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