Posts Tagged ‘summer camp 2011’

Another Summer has Come to a Close…

Tuesday, September 6th, 2011

Here we are in September and another summer has come to a close.  We can’t believe how fast it flew by!  It truly is a privilege for us to be able to host so many campers each summer.  We’re sad that the Summer of 2011 is already over, but excited to begin planning for the Summer of 2012.  For us, our greatest challenge is to make each summer better than the previous.  That’s a hard thing to live up to when this summer was so amazing!  Collectively, we really couldn’t have asked for a better group of parents, campers, or staff members.  We know that all of you are what makes Camp Weequahic one of America’s finest summer camps!  We can’t wait to meet those who will be joining us for the first time in 2012 and to welcome back all of our friends!  To everyone, here’s to living 10 for 2…until our next 2!

Going Gaga for Ga-Ga

Thursday, August 4th, 2011

Something you might not know about summer camp:  It breeds passionate athletes in many different sports, even ones that are little known outside of summer camp, such as ga-ga.  Although it’s not well known in America (but becoming more so everyday!), hoards of campers dream all winter about getting back into the ga-ga pit.  Many camps even have ga-ga tournaments!  Camp challenge weeks even have ga-ga challenges.  There is no doubt that campers are going gaga for ga-ga!

So what is this ga-ga?  It’s a little like dodgeball in a circular enclosed space.  Many camps feature ga-ga pits , but the game can be played virtually anywhere there are four walls or barriers.  As in dodgeball, when players are hit with the ball, they are out.  They may, however, use the walls of the ga-ga court to clear the ball.  As players are struck by the ball, they are eliminated, and leave the pit.  The last boy (or girl) standing wins.  Two primary ways that ga-ga differs from dodgeball is that ga-ga strikes must be at or below the knees and players bounce rather than throw the ball.   Also unlike dodgeball, players may either bounce the ball at other players or against the walls of the pit.  Some camps have adopted rules of play unique to their campers’ style of ga-ga play, while others prefer to stick to the official rules…What?  There are official rules?  Yep.  In fact, there is even an International Championship Tournament held annually in Europe.  More than 30 countries , including the U.S., winner of multiple championship titles, participate.

No one quite knows how ga-ga originated or where it comes from, but rumor has it that the game gets its name from the sound the ball makes during the opening play.  It’s bounced twice in the air and  the players say “ga” on each bounce.  On the third bounce, the ball is in play (some rules call for three bounces with the ball officially in play on the fourth bounce).  So warm up your ga-ga hands and start stretching.  We’ll see you in the pit!

Got Communication?

Saturday, July 16th, 2011

Parents: Camp is in full swing.  So we figure it is the perfect time to talk about the importance of maintaining good communication with your Camp Directors throughout the summer.

Camp is a big deal for your children and for you.  Whether you’ve planned a quiet summer at home or have an awesome vacation planned, we know that your top priority is to know that your children are having an amazing summer.  You can help, simply by being informative.

We’re first and foremost concerned for your child’s safety and well being.  Some of you probably wonder why we ask for photos of your children prior to camp.  It’s so that we can show them to your children’s counselors when we discuss your children’s activity preferences with them so that they can greet campers by name from the moment they step off the bus and have full knowledge of how to make their summer successful.

We can’t emphasize enough the importance of communicating medical issues.  Whether it’s an allergy to certain foods or insects, perhaps a dietary restriction, asthma, a vitamin deficiency, or wetting the bed, your camp directors need to know so that these matters can be handled appropriately as situations relating to them may occur throughout the summer.

We also want to know what your children’s interests are.  If we know your child can’t get enough soccer, for instance, we can make sure that he/she gets maximum exposure to soccer during the summer.  Knowing what your children like only helps us guarantee they have the summer of a lifetime.

Personal family matters are never easy, but if there is something happening at home—a divorce, illness in the family, academic issues, etc. it helps us to know.  Perhaps it’s a positive development.  Your child has landed a new role in a film, has made a particularly competitive athletic team, has earned a special honor at school.  Whatever IS your children’s lives at the moment they come to camp, we want to be able to channel it into an amazing summer for them.  And we’re confident we can.  Otherwise, we wouldn’t ask.  As your child’s “summer family”, we want to know how we can help them be at their best.

If anything comes up between the time you put your child on the bus or plane to come to camp and the time we put them back on the bus or plane to come home that might affect his or her summer, please call us.  We want to know what’s happening.  We want to understand how we can make your child’s stay at our camp effortless and memorable.  Even if it’s minor, if you have any reason for pause, please call us.  We want to be proactive in making your child’s experience memorable.

Going Gaga for Ga-Ga

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

Something you might not know about summer camp:  It breeds passionate athletes in many different sports, even ones that are little known outside of summer camp, such as ga-ga.  Although it’s not well known in America (but becoming more so everyday!), hoards of campers dream all winter about getting back into the ga-ga pit.  Many camps even have ga-ga tournaments!  Camp challenge weeks even have ga-ga challenges.  There is no doubt that campers are going gaga for ga-ga!

So what is this ga-ga?  It’s a little like dodgeball in a circular enclosed space.  Many camps feature ga-ga pits , but the game can be played virtually anywhere there are four walls or barriers.  As in dodgeball, when players are hit with the ball, they are out.  They may, however, use the walls of the ga-ga court to clear the ball.  As players are struck by the ball, they are eliminated, and leave the pit.  The last boy (or girl) standing wins.  Two primary ways that ga-ga differs from dodgeball is that ga-ga strikes must be at or below the knees and players bounce rather than throw the ball.   Also unlike dodgeball, players may either bounce the ball at other players or against the walls of the pit.  Some camps have adopted rules of play unique to their campers’ style of ga-ga play, while others prefer to stick to the official rules…What?  There are official rules?  Yep.  In fact, there is even an International Championship Tournament held annually in Europe.  More than 30 countries , including the U.S., winner of multiple championship titles, participate.

No one quite knows how ga-ga originated or where it comes from, but rumor has it that the game gets its name from the sound the ball makes during the opening play.  It’s bounced twice in the air and  the players say “ga” on each bounce.  On the third bounce, the ball is in play (some rules call for three bounces with the ball officially in play on the fourth bounce).  So warm up your ga-ga hands and start stretching.  We’ll see you in the pit!

The First Day of Camp

Tuesday, June 14th, 2011

Believe it or not, we are already planning our first day of camp this summer. Yes, even in the midst of a rainy and cool spring, we are thinking about every aspect of our campers’ first few hours at Weequahic.

Think about your own experiences with first impressions. They are important, right? Malcolm Gladwell, in his wonderfully thoughtful Blink, demonstrates the awesome power of first experiences with art, music, friends, and more. We want to do everything we can to make that first impression a fantastic one!

Before Campers Get on the Bus

Isn’t it nice to walk into your room, find your bed made, clothes neatly put away, and huge signs saying “Welcome!” We think it is and know, from experience, our campers like it, too!

Parents help us start camp by sending their child’s clothing and bedding to Weequahic 10 days before camp starts. Camp Trucking makes this very easy for our families. Some families in the local area will even drive the bags up to camp.

Our counselors unpack every kid in our Junior and Inter (rising 2nd through 8th graders) divisions before they arrive, tucking things neatly away into each child’s cubbies. We make their beds, which we’ve arranged specifically. Then, we make the cabin look fun and inviting for each camper.

By the time our counselors have finished these tasks, they cannot wait to see the kids!

Getting to Camp – By Land or Air

The vast majority of our campers arrive to Weequahic by bus. It’s a great way to start the experience. In fact, we always say camp starts as soon as you get on the bus!

Several of our counselors travel to our pick up areas to meet our campers and their families. They’ll be wearing our Weequahic staff shirts and will be greeting you with enormous smiles. Our counselors will be there to help campers find their pre-assigned seats on the bus.

Yes, that’s right – I assign our campers’ seats on the bus or plane. I’m not a big fan of the ‘where am I supposed to go’ feeling, especially when setting up a great experience for children. I simply find this kind of direction makes for a more comfortable start to camp.

Campers sit by age group so that new campers will have a chance to meet other campers of the same age immediately. We also place our counselors throughout the bus in order to make sure everyone is doing well. The bus will be full of songs, laughter, and even a few minutes of the camp video just before the kids arrive at Weequahic.

Arriving at Camp

Once the doors open, our counselors, having just finished a nine day orientation, are excitedly waiting to greet the kids. Campers are directed to their bunk counselors who are holding big signs with their names and bunk numbers. I’ll be at the door of each bus as it arrives as well, happily greeting each one of our campers to Weequahic.

We’ll get the kids organized by bunk in our picnic area, check them into camp, and whisk them to their bunks. Once they’ve had a chance to put their bus bags down, we head right back out for lunch or snack, depending on when they arrive, and for some fun activities that afternoon.

Our office team will be calling home to let our parents know about the bus arrivals and we’ll begin posting pictures immediately. (Hey, we know it’s stressful on the parents as well!)

We’ll enjoy some tours of camp, special activities, and a good bit of bunk bonding time. The evening is set up as a huge welcome to everyone at camp as a whole. We introduce all of the top program and bunk staff and have a great evening together. Then, we are back to our bunks for our first night at camp.

I’ll visit each bunk of boys that night to spend some time and start our tradition of ‘Two Happies.’ Kate and our female leadership will do the same on girl’s side.

Then, it’s lights out (though a light stays on in the bathroom….) The excitement around camp is palpable. The kids are excited about what their first full day of activities will hold. The staff members are thrilled to meet their new charges and start building an incredible bunk community. The directors are happy to finally be done with all the planning and ready to start camp.

The first day at camp is an important one and we do our best to make it exciting, warm, and inviting. We hope you and your camper enjoys it!

Can’t wait for camp,

Cole

10 Things to Do before Your Children Leave for Summer Camp

Tuesday, June 7th, 2011

 Things to do before Your Children Leave for

10. Complete all of the camp paperwork.  This provides the camp with valuable details about your child that they can pass onto their health center and counselors.  Knowing your children’s interests before they arrive helps the camp place them into cabins or bunks in which they’ll thrive, provide them with the best program options, and be able to supply them with any medication they may require.

9. Buy stationary, pre-address and stamp envelopes for letters home.  Many camps have specific time set aside in their daily schedules for writing home.  Pre-addressed envelopes help ease the process of sending the letters campers have so lovingly written.  This is particularly the case for younger campers.  Also, familiarize yourself with your children’s camp policy regarding camp packages to avoid disappointment that may result from sending items that are undeliverable to your children.

8. Review the camp’s packing list and make sure you have everything.  Don’t overlook things like extra socks and underwear as well as rain gear and warm clothing.

7. Review your camp’s handbook with your children.  Camp handbooks contain valuable information regarding the expectations of campers.  Emphasize that camps put such guidelines in place for the safety and well being of their campers so that they can insure everyone has the most fun possible.

6. Make your Visiting Day plans and book lodging.  Yes, it’s true that your children haven’t even left for camp yet.  But many hotels within the immediate vicinity of a camp often book months in advance.  If you’re unsure of the lodging options near your children’s camp, contact the camp office.

5. Make sure your children’s camper accounts are in order.  Some camps maintain “spending accounts” for campers.  These accounts provide additional funds for campers to take along on out of camp trips to purchase souvenirs or treats.  If you’re unclear at all, call the camp office. Keep in mind that these are often separate accounts from those that cover in-camp expenses such as canteen and laundry services.

4. Ensure you have all adequate sports and musical equipment in order:  the wheels on the roller blades are oiled, the shin pads are the proper fit, and the guitar strings have been tightened.  Just as if they are going off to rehearsal, your children’s sports equipment will receive as much of a workout at camp as it will at home.  Sending your campers with properly maintained and fitting equipment can have a tremendous affect on the success of their summer.

3. Pack.  It sounds so simple.  Yet, for camp, it’s quite the production.  Most camps strongly advise against packing any clothing that can’t withstand commercial laundry services.  It’s also wise to remember that camps often downplay the importance of physical appearance, which means leaving the “dry clean only” and “one of kind” items at home is typically a good idea.  Once you have your children’s bags packed, don’t forget to arrange for them to be delivered to camp by the designated date.

2. Review the bus pickup location and procedures.  It’s particularly important to understand what your children can take on the plane or bus and what they can’t.  Carefully review whether lunch will be provided for your children either on the trip or when they get to camp, or if you should provide packed lunches for them.  Understand the carry-on limitations, particularly in regard to sports equipment.  Finally, be on time to the departure point.  Of course, people inevitably get stuck in traffic or lost (as is particularly the case for new pickup locations), but try to get a sense of where you’re going ahead of time and leave a bit early if necessary.

1. Wish your children an unbelievable,  happy summer.  They’re going to have one!  But knowing you’re supporting them 100% just makes it that much better— particularly for first time campers.  Remind them of all the fun they’re going to have.  Let them know that you can’t wait to hear about it in their letters, and that you’ll be monitoring the camp’s website daily for blogs and photographs in addition to sending them letters and email.

So You’ve Got a Golden Ticket…Ready, Set, Go Part 3

Thursday, May 26th, 2011

Finally, we close our trilogy of camp counselor tips with one last blog dedicated to you, future camp counselors…

Get ready to build your resume!  Working as a camp counselor at a summer camp will provide you with some invaluable experience that will serve you well far beyond this summer.  Many HR Managers in lots of different fields find summer camp experience very impressive because of the level of dedication and commitment required.  Summer Camp also demonstrates that you can adapt well to new cultures, which is essential for success in many corporate environments.  In fact, many corporate executives were once campers and/or camp counselors themselves.  If you’re an education major, it goes without saying that experience working directly with children is a huge plus on a new teacher’s resume.

One final warning: As a summer camp counselor, you will act goofy, dress funny, and find yourself doing all sorts of crazy things you’d probably never ordinarily do…and you’ll have a blast while doing them.  It’s what summer camp is all about.  But what other job can you get where being an expert in painting faces, making signs, inventing outrageous costumes, and acting silly are all just part of your typical workday?

So there you have it!  A few suggestions for preparing yourself for a great and successful summer.  Have fun!

So You’ve Got a Golden Ticket…Ready, Set, Go Part 2

Thursday, May 19th, 2011

We promised a sequel and here it is: Orientation 101…

The first thing you should know about the orientation is don’t sweat it.  Yes, it’s intense.  Yes, it’s a VERY busy week and there is a lot to get done.  We know that, by the time months of anticipation for your new summer camp job to start come and you travel (sometimes for hours or even days) to get to the camp and find yourself actually there, even the most staunch start to feel the butterflies.  Remember that everyone with whom you come into contact those first few days is probably feeling the same butterflies—even returners who’ve done all of it before.  But relax.  Orientation is also full of opportunities.  Opportunities to learn more about your new surroundings, opportunities to learn more about your summer camp and embrace its traditions, opportunities to learn more about your summer job as a camp counselor, opportunities to change your mindset and grasp expectations, and opportunities to make friends.

Speaking of making friends, be ready to make LOTS of them from all over the world!  Sure your summer camp job will only last for a couple of months.  But a couple of months are plenty of time to make lifelong friends when you spend everyday together.   You may even find that you don’t need the whole summer to bond.  You’ll probably be planning vacations to visit some of your new friends during the winter before orientation is even over.

Don’t over- or under-pack.  Yes, we know that you’re going to want to cram your entire bedroom into your suitcase or duffel..  But the fact is that camp housing isn’t exactly spacious.  Most summer camps provide their camp counselors with packing lists.  Of course you’re going to want to bring a few personal items, but don’t stray too far from what’s recommended and definitely avoid packing the “DO NOT BRING” items.  In other words, make sure your camp permits camp counselors to bring outside food onto the campus before you pack a stash of Doritos and energy drinks.  It’s also a good idea to make sure you read the camps guidelines about permissible items, particularly those related to swimsuits and shoes.  Once you’re packed, inspect your suitcase one more time to make sure you remembered things that are often easily overlooked or forgotten by new summer camp counselors, like rain gear or bedding (if your summer camp requires you to bring your own).

Chances are that you’re going to get a very important email or envelope from your summer camp very soon, if you haven’t already.   It’ll have some pretty important paperwork for you to complete.  Be sure to pay attention to the specified deadlines for each form.  For one thing, you’re not going to want to be bothered with it after you get to camp.  For another, not filling it out on time may cause pesky delays in important things…like being paid!

Well that about covers the orientation.  We’ve still got enough tips left for you that we’re going to make this one a trilogy.  Be sure to come back in a few days for the final part of this series!

So You’ve Got a Golden Ticket…Ready, Set, Go Part 1

Friday, May 6th, 2011

So you’ve gotten a great job at a summer camp and are wondering what to do while you impatiently wait for June to get here…

First things first.  You found this blog, so we’re assuming you want to know as much as you can before you leave.  You’ve come to the right place! We’ve got a few suggestions for you…Actually, a lot.  In fact, since we understand that you’ve come to this site to read a blog, not War and Peace, we’re going to have to divide this into a few different parts.  But we figure that’s okay because they do it with movies all of the time, right?  So without any further delay…

Have you started checking out your camp’s blog as well as this one?   Many camps now maintain regular blogs and they frequently post blogs (like this one) intended specifically for staff members.

Check out the camp’s website, if you haven’t about a thousand times already.   Even if you visit the website everyday and spend hours staring dreamily at the photos as you imagine images of you having the perfect summer showing up on the site this time next year, dig a little deeper.  A camp’s website can also tell you a lot about the very special world that you will be part of this summer.  Many camps  have FAQ pages for staff members or special staff areas.  They give you ideas about what to bring and what to leave at home.  Some post sample daily schedules, which are a great way to familiarize yourself with how you will be spending your days.  If there are videos on the site (or if the camp sent you one), watch them.  Not only will you be ready to leave the same day, but it’s a great way to get to know the camp.

If the camp has Facebook or Twitter pages, join them.  They’re another way to keep up to date on what’s happening and, as summer inches closer, the anticipation that builds is infectious.  Many camps also post helpful information or instructions for staff members as summer nears.  Facebook and Twitter are great ways to connect with other staff members before you get to camp.  Not to worry, though.  You’ll make PLENTY of new friends during your Orientation, even if you show up knowing no one!

Prepare to work hard.  We won’t lie.  Camp is one of the hardest jobs you’ll ever have.  It’s also one that you’ll probably love the most. Every second of every day, SOMETHING is happening at camp.  It’s all a lot to take in at first, but the chances of you making it through the last day at camp without shedding a single tear and hugging hundreds of people are pretty much nil-to-none.  And you’ll probably be making plans to come back next summer before this one’s even over.

Well, like we said, we’re well aware that if you were looking for a novel, you’d be downloading the latest best seller for you Kindle right now.  So we’ll call it a day for this blog.  Be sure to tune in next time for advice about what to pack (and not) and some tips for orientation.

Camp Adventure Programs Help Campers Soar High!

Saturday, April 30th, 2011

Anyone would feel a tremendous sense of accomplishment after scaling a forty foot wall and then whizzing down a zip line or perhaps, while attached to a harness of course, taking a giant leap of faith off a perch with a great view.   But when the person is under the age of sixteen,  the feeling is unmatched.  This is the sense of elation that camp adventure programs bring to campers every summer.  Adventure is one of the most popular  programs at camp.   But what’s the point of all that climbing, jumping, and zipping around you ask?

For starters, high and low ropes courses have been used for some time now as team building event, probably the most commonly known reason for their usage.  In the case of a high ropes course, which is often at least thirty feet above ground and is sometimes as high as fifty, courage is one of the first words that comes to mind.  Quite simply put, it takes a lot of courage to shimmy up a ladder or patiently work your way trial and error up a climbing wall and then attempt to maneuver across  beams or rope of miniscule width with the ground looming below, even if one is safely secured to a harness and cables and spotted by trained professionals.  Trust is really what high ropes courses are all about.  A high ropes course challenges campers’ comfort levels and forces them to put trust in their fellow campers and camp staff, who also share in the inevitable sense of pride after successfully finishing a challenge.

Low ropes courses, on the other hand, encourage team building.  They feature such elements as webbed rope nets, trust falls and activities that challenge participants to get their entire team between platforms by building a bridge, or to move from wide cables to narrow ones.  More specifically, at camp, low ropes provide a great way for campers to bond with one another and encourage cabins to work together as a unit.

Nature programs  also often compliment outdoor programs by helping campers reconnect with nature and understand the importance of preserving the environment.  Fishing is another part of many outdoor adventure programs.  While fishing is a perfect relaxing social opportunity, it’s also a great way of increasing children’s patience level.

So it’s no wonder that these outdoor adventure programs are not popular merely for the lofty challenges that they provide, but  for the thrill and sense of pride campers feel for having had the courage to accept and achieve them.