I was nervous and excited to send my son Connor to Camp Weequahic this year. Connor’s best friend attended the camp the summer before and could not stop raving about it. So after plenty of research and discussions, we decided to let Connor spend the summer away. I won’t lie, my “mommy heart” broke a little when he practically jumped out of the car at drop off and didn’t look back, but I was pretty sure we were making the right decision. Last week, when we picked him up, I was 100% sure we had made the right decision. The excited, smiley kid who jumped into our backseat was….different.
I couldn’t pin point many differences right away, except for the excitement in his eyes and voice when he talked about all of his new friends and cracked himself up remembering inside jokes and hilarious conversations with his new buddies. One of the main things I noticed when we got home was how helpful he had become. Without me asking, he would make his bed, take his plates to the sink, offer to bring in the groceries or even simply ask if he could get us anything from the kitchen since he was going that way. I noticed a new sense of thoughtfulness when he came back. Not that he was heartless before by any means, but I definitely noticed a change in his willingness to help others and think of others before himself. As the days passed, my heart exploded with joy to see him excited to email, chat and FaceTime all of his new friends. He went to camp a little reserved, and came back social and confident. I loved seeing him interact with his peers, I loved seeing how he was truly listening to what others had to say, and how he felt confident contributing to the conversation.
Just today, he told me he was going to try out for soccer tryouts at school, a sport he had never played before camp. He said he was encouraged to try it at camp and played it almost every day while he was there. As a mom, I am blown away at what positive changes have come from sending my son to camp. I knew he would make friends, try a new activity or two, and learn to live both independently and with a group, but I had no idea about the social skills, character development, relational growth, and boost in confidence that spending just a few weeks away could create.
Any parent that is even thinking about sending their kid to camp should stop thinking right now and sign them up. Not only will you enjoy a few kid-free weeks of relaxation, but when your kid comes home, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at everything they’ve learned, and more importantly, who they’ve become.
Camp Weequahic changed my son for the better, and we are both looking forward to the growth and changes that will happen next summer at camp!
Attending Camp Weequahic can be a wonderful experience for a child. Apart from being a fun place, camp teaches some important lessons of life. A child learns to do things on his own without realizing it. However, parents note healthy changes in the child as he/she learns to polish shoes, making their bed, and pack their school bag among others.
Summer Camp: An Experience of a Lifetime
It may sound over the top but children remember their summer camp experience for life. There are camps where senior alumni members come and share their camping experience. These occasions are nostalgic as senior members who attended the camp once or twice remember the virtues of life they learned there.
Children attending summer camp enjoy the unique, pleasant environment for multiple reasons. Making new friends is one benefit. It is not an understatement that children make friends at a camp, but since they share similar experiences and activities, they are likely to remain friends. There are cases where children from different schools and locations became friends, joined activities and shared routines throughout the camp. After the camp, they share contacts and remain in touch.
Don’t Over Caution Your Children
Worrying occurs naturally when your child is away for a day, let alone for three or six weeks. What parents must not do is to over-caution children. Parents must keep faith in the camp administration that they will take care of their child. Parents must not restrict the child neither must they emphasize them to follow the school schedule. It has been observed some parents also restrict their children to stay within the community or schoolmates. In some cases, acts of racism are also observed. It should be noted a summer camp is run by experienced professionals who know how to deal with children with odd behavior. Set the overcautious attitude aside and let your child enjoy the experience.
No Harm in Maintaining a Healthy Routine
It is all right to remind the child of his daily routine, such as brushing their teeth twice, washing hands before eating, and getting proper hydration. To protect skin, use sunscreens or lotions/creams to keep sunburns away. To keep bugs away, use skin lotion or spray insecticides, particularly when outside the camp at nighttime. Being away from home doesn’t mean children are free to do as they please. Ask them to sleep early as they do at home during school days. Maintaining a healthy routine is never a bad thing,
Summer camp can be a lasting experience for children and parents alike. Children overcome shyness and gain a great deal of self-confidence when they are away at a summer camp. Not to forget the happiness and the pleasant memories they are likely to cherish for life.
“Healthy Competition” is a term that is often used at summer camp. While they also offer a wide selection of niche and hobby type activities, traditional summer camps focus heavily on sports. The emphasis, however, is more about encouraging campers to be active and improve their skills. This is not to say that campers do not participate in sports matches. In fact, many camps not only facilitate game play through intra camp leagues, but inter camp leagues as well. Thus, “healthy competition”, as it is used at camp, is an expression to describe contests with positive encouragement, regardless of the outcome, and not merely a synonym for “no competition.”
Po Bronson, co-author of Top Dog: The Science of Winning and Losing believes that the camaraderie that results fromh healthy team competition encourages children to learn at a faster pace and alleviates the stress of learning a new skill or attempting to improve existing abilities on one’s own. Another aspect of camp competition that makes it healthy competition is that it’s limited in scope and time. It takes place only as long as camp lasts and does not extend beyond the camp environment. This, according to Bronson, is a key element of “healthy competition, “In finite games, you compete and then you let it go, and you have rest and recuperation – that’s actually really important for kids,” said Bronson. “It’s the continuous sense of pressure that is unhealthy for them.”
The stress of not making a team or of underperforming is not a pervading force in camp athletics. Says Bronson, “What kids do need to learn is losing is not that big a deal. They need to learn to lose and go ‘Oh, whatever,’ and move on and keep playing…You want to get them to turn up the work ethic in order to win.” At camp, losing is not a big deal, because every summer is a new summer–new tryouts, new teams, and new possibilities. The constant rearrangement of groups also helps campers shrug off losses. Another day brings another activity and a new group with which to compete. A loss in one activity does not translate to a closely monitored record that eventually defines a team and, sometimes, individuals. The teams are constantly changing and so are the competitions.
The break between summers also makes growth measurable for campers. When children constantly train and participate in a sport, it’s more difficultfor them to see themselves improving, even when they are. The ten month gap from one summer to the next provides campers with the time and distance necessary for improvements to be noticeable. The distinct parameters of camp that restrict it to a single season—summer—also remove the constant pressure of advancing skills as quickly as possible so as to always be able to perform at peak level. Every summer is a new summer–new tryouts, new teams, and new possibilities. As a result, campers tend to maintain a healthy attitude about camp sports, which makes them naturally receptive to the idea of genuinely healthy competition. At camp, it’s not so much about winning and losing as setting goals and measuring one’s progress from summer to summer.
“What kids need more than anything is not to win or lose but a close race, a fair competition where everyone feels like they’ve got a fighting chance,” says Bronson. “Where everyone feels like they have a fighting chance” is exactly what summer camp is, and why it’s an environment naturally conducive to healthy competition.
We recently read an article on the American Camping Association website entitled Who Are Your Campers? The article included a rather interesting illustration of statistics about children today. One of the pieces of data that most caught our eye was the statistic about children and media. According to the illustration, children today spend, on average, 7.5 hours with media. One of the key points of summer camp has always been the greatly reduced exposure to technology. It’s recommended that children sleep 8-10 hours a night, which leaves 14-16 hours left in a day. That means that approximately half a normal day for a child involves the use of media or technology of some kind. Even schools are focusing on transitions to electronic based curriculums. In contrast to the considerably less media exposure of previous generations, it’s easy to assume that summer camp must be practically culture shock to modern children who.
Although many camps offer activities, such as video and photography programs, the noticeably fewer technology options at summer camp leave campers with a considerable hole to fill. This is where athletics come into play. There is no shortage of sports at Camp Weequahic, and campers quickly become very involved in both their intra and inter camp teams. The lack of outside distraction allows them to focus on athletic performance. Although it’s not about winning, per say, for the majority of campers, an astounding number of them voice pride in the improvement of their skills since last year or vocally share their objectives for this year with coaches and counselors over the first few days of camp. They clearly come with goals, which suggests that, contrary to what one might assume, campers actually anticipate a break from media outlets and look forward to it enough to take the time to outline ways in which they hope to improve themselves during their summer camp experience.
Summer camp used to be thought of as an escape to fresh air and nature from urban jungles. Perhaps it still is for some. It seems, however, that it has just as much become a respite from technology and the emphasis on social media that has overtaken the lives of contemporary children. Campers spend time at camp focusing on qualities of life that have taken a backseat to technology in recent years: the value of face-to-face communication, spending time outdoors being active, working toward personal goals in improving skills in sports or hobbies. This is one way in which the motivation for coming to summer camp may have changed but the hoped for end result is still the same. This also is what keeps summer camp a timeless option for filling children’s summers.
1) It’s close! We are located within a three hour drive of Philadelphia, New York, and only slightly longer from Boston, Baltimore and the Washington D.C. area. Sending our children “away” to camp is one of the true blessings we can bestow upon our children, but let’s be honest its tough on us parents. Choosing Wayne County gives every parent the additional reassurance that we can get in our car and be at camp in a short period of time.
2)Diversity. The camps of Wayne County draw campers from all over the United States and abroad. Many camps attract children from Philadelphia to Paris and from Los Angeles to Long Island. This diversity of campers allows children to come to camp and express their interests and meet kids with similar traits from all over the United States and world. This does not even mention the staff. Camps in Wayne County hire staff from all over the United States, Europe, Australia, South America and Africa. Basically your children will be exposed to staff from everywhere other than Antarctica during their summer at camp.
3) The Programs! If you choose to send your child to camp in Wayne County, there is certainly a program that is best for them. From the child who is looking for an individual program tailored to his or her self while still getting the “typical” summer camp experience to the very traditional program with structured bunk scheduling and individual choice hybrid. There is also a unique sports league within the camps of Wayne County that allow children that so desire to participate in teams that travel to other camps in a competitive model.
4)Create Lasting Memories! So many of our campers because of their diverse backgrounds leave camp with “friends for life”. We often hear campers say they “live 10 months for 2”. This is the true mission of every camp I think. To leave our kids free to develop and create relationships that are the type that will “last a lifetime”
If your child regularly spends a half hour in the cereal aisle of the supermarket choosing his breakfast cereal or takes the better part of a day debating whether he wants to go to the movies or have a play date with a friend, there is a somewhat underrated and under appreciated aspect of sending your child to summer camp that you may want to consider. Camp helps children learn how to make decisions.
For many campers, sleepaway camp is their first real experience away from their parents. They find themselves faced with decisions every day, some of which are traditionally made by their parents. Camps, for instance, often offer campers several different dining options each meals. Without their parents there to tell them to eat salad because they don’t like tuna or pasta, children find themselves faced with the decision about what to eat. This sounds like a small thing, and in the scheme of larger things, perhaps it is. However, it’s not an exercise without long-term benefit. Once children understand the decision is theirs, they tend to get adventurous. As a result, many will try—and be surprised to realize they like—foods that they might not have tried at home if steered toward safer choices by us parents who, let’s face it, sometimes choose the path of least resistance if for no other reason than to maintain peace. The sense of adventure gained also carries over into their daily activities.
Most camps programs are designed around camper choice. While the level of choice varies from camp to camp with some giving campers exclusive control of their daily schedules while others plan part of the day and allow campers to choose a couple or a few activities, campers are still faced everyday with choosing at least some of their daily activities. Making such decisions forces campers to consider whether it’s better to stick to a tried and true activity that they love or try something new. While some campers are inevitably more adventurous than others, the ability to make decisions without the pressure of peers or parents and in the open, accepting environment of camp at which being adventurous is not only accepted but encouraged, children learn to choose what they want rather than what they feel that others want for them. Again, this may seem like a relatively small accomplishment in the larger scheme of growing up, but many books about success emphasize that the children who grow up to become the most successful adults learned early to understand what they wanted and how to make the choices in life that would help them achieve their goals. Additionally, when children know what they want, they’re able to be more assertive in pursuing goals and voicing when they’re unhappy.
So if you’re tired of perusing the aisles for the second, third, and fourth time while your child tries to decide between Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Cheerios or are frustrated about not being able to make evening plans because your child can’t decide what he wants to do, consider sending him to summer camp where he can get a crash course on learning to make decisions on a daily basis.
During our conversations with families, we often hear “My child loves to play sports but is not terribly competitive. How will they fit in at Camp Weequahic?” We also hear, “My kid ONLY wants to play team sports” or “My child does not like any team sports. Are they going to like camp?” They are great questions because they allow us to explain the type of camper who thrives at Weequahic.
In a word, children who get the most out of Weequahic are ‘zestful.’ (We used to use the term ‘engaged’ but, having read Paul Tough’s great book on children, we think ‘zestful’ is a much better descriptor!) This describes boys and girls who are into lots of different activities, excited to build friendships, and who love to play.
Most of our girls select a wide range of activities from fashion design and cooking to team sports to waterskiing. Similarly, our boys will choose a wide variety of activities – team sports, woodshop, rocketry, skate park, climbing, cartooning, tennis, and more. (Just about everyone enjoys tubing and jumping in the lake!)
Some campers choose to focus on a specific area, such as gymnastics, the arts, adventure and nature, or competitive team sports. While we have a large offering of competitive sports and events within the Wayne County Camp Association, being on a team is completely voluntary and open to everyone interested.
We do allow some specialization, we want to make sure our campers try a few things they don’t get to experience much at home (maybe a hike or building something in woodshop or getting up on water skies for the first time).
We are excited to offer our campers the opportunity to build their perfect summer in a setting that encourages a zestful approach to life!
Raise your hand if this sounds familiar…
Your child comes to you and says, for what seems like the billionth time, “Ask me more about camp.” It’s now December and you’ve heard some of the stories so many times that you can actually recite them along with her. You wonder what odd but amusing little story your little one has managed to scour from the back of her mind that somehow involves the solitary five minutes of summer camp about which you haven’t yet heard. While you’re doing this, your child only grows more impatient, “Go ahead. Ask me,” this time becoming so excited that she hops up and down a couple of times and appears to be choreographing her own little “ask me more about camp” dance, which somewhat tops the bemusement of the time she sang for you to ask.
You can’t resist her enthusiasm because you think it’s great to see her this excited about anything other than the latest episode of iCarly, so you cave and wait for her mile-a-minute relay of some cute story about that time she held hands with six friends and they all jumped off the water trampoline and made a really big splash, which was really funny because it made so many waves that it almost tipped over a paddleboarder nearby…No, really it was SO funny! Or the time they went on the nature walk, and it started raining, and they were trying to hurry back to camp, but they slipped in the mud…THAT was the funniest! You’re still trying to get the stains out of the shirt she was wearing that day, but you get an image in your head, having seen the photographs of your child and her friends covered in mud the camp posted on its website, and knew from the ear-to-ear grin that she was obviously having the time of her life, and you have to chuckle because, yes, it’s funny.
Your child starts a new story about a soccer game and how her friend had really wanted to score a goal all summer at camp but really wasn’t that good at soccer, so she blocked another player so the friend could try to score. And you realize that even though you might get asked to quiz her about camp a few hundred more times before the line turns into “I can’t wait to go back!” you don’t mind because you realize that hearing about little moments like this is nice. Not only did your child just have the time of her life, her enthusiasm in sharing her experiences with you adds great value to your decision to send her to camp because not only is she having fun but she’s learning valuable life lessons.
Have you noticed subtle pleasant but odd changes since your children returned from summer camp? Have you peeked into your son’s room and noticed that he made his bed? Were you tempted to take your daughter’s temperature the other night because she volunteered to clean up her room? Maybe they just seem calmer or are better about sticking to routines about which you went hoarse more than once preaching to them before you put them on that bus or plane headed to their favorite summer zip code. Perhaps they’re better about saying ‘thank you’ and ‘please’ or spend less time all out at war with each other over little things like the remote control and whether they’re going to watch The Voice or Modern Family. Did they really mature that much at summer camp?
Not that you’re complaining. It’s a nice, unexpected bonus. When you initially enrolled them for camp, you were thinking it would be good for them to spend their summer working on arts and crafts projects, learning how to sail, going swimming, doing the silly things that kids do at camp, and playing sports instead of using up your entire cell phone data plan during twelve hour texting marathons or playing the Kinect so much that you can no longer tell whether you’re watching a video game or an actual television program. You thought, ‘Maybe they’ll even make a few new friends.’ But, oddly, it’s the smaller things they seem to be bringing away from their summer camp experiences that you find yourself enjoying the most.
Sure, you read all about the benefits of sending children to summer camp before you decided to send them. But you didn’t allow yourself to actually have expectations that your children would come home friendlier, more dutiful, more flexible, able to manage their time better, and generally happier–in short, more mature. Those are the special changes that you enjoy seeing and that make summer camp that much more valuable your eyes.
A recent article in the New York Times examined a father’s struggle with his daughter’s choice to forego a summer internship to spend the summer working at her former summer camp. Upon first hearing of his daughter’s choice, the father was concerned that the camp counselor experience would not ultimately prove substantial on a resume. However, upon further consideration, he concluded that the internship experience was overrated. Based on statistical data, those who have intern experience do not secure jobs any faster than those who do not, and the well-rounded experience his daughter would gain while working at camp added to the benefit of being able to delay the start of an “office job.”
Even before entering college, former campers who’ve become too old to attend camp decide to enter their camp’s counselor in training program. As the college student who was the subject of the her father’s New York Times debate, many parents of former campers find themselves wondering about the benefits of counselor assistant programs versus a year off from camp, teen tours, or a more traditional summer job. In addition to providing a very good transition from the role of camper to staff member, counselor in training programs are a great foundation for college.
College is a clean slate for students. When students leave high school, they also leave behind their reputations and accomplishments. Like college is a place at which students have the opportunity to demonstrate that they attained the skills to succeed in college through high school, counselor assistants or counselors in training have the opportunity to demonstrate that years of being a camper have given them the skills required to be a good staff member. As part campers, part staff members, they have opportunity to take initiative and show responsibility by performing some of the duties of a camp counselor. In doing so, they also gain entry level work experience. They are accountable for performing up to the standards set by their camp leadership, they report to multiple supervisors at various levels, and by nature of working twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week with children, they must perform jobs responsibilities with immediacy.
A counselor in training or counselor assistant program is also a great way to help teenagers choose a college. Since counselor assistant or counselor in training groups tend to be smaller than other camp age groups, the smaller setting can help students decide whether they prefer a larger college with more students, like those of their younger camping days, or a smaller, more intimate setting like that of their counselor in training or counselor assistant group. Living at camp is also time away from home that helps those thinking of college determine whether living away from home in a dorm setting or living at home while attending a local college is more to their preference.
Ultimately, regardless of whether a former camper decides to do a traditional internship once he or she gets to college, a year or two spent as a counselor in training or a counselor assistant could help build some of the most helpful tools for making some very important, life impacting decisions regarding college and work.