Month: December 2010

Home Visits with Cole

Delta Airlines loves me. No, I won’t make it into their in-flight magazine anytime soon but I’ve flown so much in the past few years that I fear my car can just about steer itself to the airport.

While I don’t care for airport food, my ‘off season’ travel is certainly worth it. The planes and the people who fly them get me to where I REALLY like being: in the home of a family interested in Weequahic.

Of all the off season duties, home visits are easily my favorite. The time spent with families in their homes is invaluable. First of all, the nervous excitement of the kids is endearing. “Who is this guy with the picture book and why is he asking me to sit next to him?” they wonder. By the end of our time together, I hope they get a better idea of who I am and what the camp is all about.

Their parents also have their own questions. I know every parent I meet as I walk in their door is thinking “Can I trust this guy? Will he keep my child safe? Will he be honest with me?” They are very large questions that have to be answered. I admit I really enjoy answering all of them.

Home visits usually happen at the kitchen table or the living room couch. (That said, I’ve also met at roof top restaurants, soccer games, and the occasional Starbucks.) Seeing everyone in the family, including the pets, gives me a good snapshot of the child. Are there musical instruments lying around? Sport equipment? Is she wearing a dance uniform? Does that shirt means he’s a Jets fan? What are the siblings like? Is the child leading the conversation or nervous as can be? Every bit of information I can get is useful.

Why do I visit the homes? There are a couple of reasons. First, I’d want to know who the person in charge of my child’s community is before I send them off for 3 or 6 weeks. Building trust with the family, both initially and over time, represents one of my major goals.

Secondly, I need to know as much as I can about our new camp families, especially the camper. Since I personally build every bunk community at Weequahic, knowing who a child is and in what situation he or she would thrive in is essential. Additionally, learning more about the parents – whether they have camp experience themselves, their major concerns, etc. – allows me to tailor each visit and relationship.

Third, there is no better medium in which to answer questions about the camp. Sure, I’m happy to speak on the phone and we’ve got lots answers on our website. However, getting together, face to face, allows the questions to flow more effectively. (I’ve even written about a few questions that might help!)

Finally, I want the camper to know someone when they get off the bus. That first day of camp is incredibly exciting and satisfying to me. Seeing the campers get off the bus with their wide eyes, nervous grins, and (hopefully small) knot of nervousness in their stomach is simply a wonderful experience for me. I’ll be there greeting them all day!

So, if you are thinking about a home visit, please call or write. I’d be thrilled to meet you and answer any questions I can. See you soon!

Cole, Camp Director

If I could go back to camp. . .

If you’re a summer camp alum, and you had some extra wishes lying around, would you use one to go back to summer camp? If you could go back today, what would you do?

We asked and you answered, on Facebook and on Twitter.

Here’s some of what your fellow camp alums had to say. We challenged them to finish this sentence:

If I could go back to Camp, I would:

…have to take my husband with me (from the Camp Nurse 91-92)

…sort dirty laundry in HQ!!!

…eat sloppy joes

…coach our 7th grade girl’s softball team to victory…again!!!

…wear warmer clothes…lol…oh and hike

…Find out who really lived in that House that we all thought was Haunted back in the sixties. Anyone remember that house?

What would you do if you could go back to camp today? Use the comments section to let us know!


Camp All Year Long!

We are proud of our ‘no tech’ policy at camp. It allows our campers and staff to focus what’s important – the interactions with each other that can only happen at camp. That said, tech is certainly not all bad.

Believe it or not, camp doesn’t end with the buses heading home on August 10th. Sure, there won’t be 300 Weequahic maniacs enjoying Olympics, roasting marshmallows, or singing (shouting, really) songs for another 10 months in Lakewood, PA. But, thanks to modern tech, the Weequahic community continues to thrive throughout the year.

I’ve just enjoyed four reunions in Florida (Hollywood, Palm Beach Gardens, Orlando, and Boca). As I type this out, I’m on a plane headed to Los Angeles, CA to have a reunion and meet new families. We’ve got more get togethers coming up in New York and New Jersey soon as well.

The phone has certainly been useful in getting these events up and running but the internet has really made it easier. We’ve started to build a thriving Facebook community with parents and our older campers. Twitter has also been useful, especially when I visit areas around the country. This blog is helpful in spreading the major messages of Weequahic: gratitude, courage, and great staff, among others.

The get togethers are certainly not just ‘camp created.’ I often hear of our younger campers getting together with others in the local area for playdays. Some are even teammates on soccer teams. At the Boca Raton ice cream reunion, I heard all about the plans of some of New Jersey and New York campers to come down to visit south Florida. One of our Boca Raton CITs is actually heading up to NY in December (and I don’t think it’s to see the snow….)

A final way we keep campers, parents and staff up to date with news from their friends is through our newsletters. We collect a lot of great information – such as Miss Katz making it to the cheerleading national championships a few weeks ago! Keep an eye out for the next one in January, everyone. (And keep us posted with news!!)

We do everything we can to keep our community tight, exciting, engaging, and fun throughout the year. Thankfully, with a great collection of nice kids from all over the planet (and a little help from technology), it’s easier to do than ever before. See you next summer!

Cole Kelly, Camp Director