Month: December 2011

Three Steps to Joy

As school lets out and families spend time together at the end of each year, we spend a lot of time wishing ‘Joy’ to one another.

It is a joyful occasion, is it not? Parents who work hard throughout the year take a few moments to relax and connect with their children. Kids are thrilled to be out of school for a few weeks and look forward to the celebration of their family’s holiday.  The tv is full of messages of good tidings and cheerful holiday music plays through most speakers.

All of these joyful tidings made me remember what a mentor once said about true joy. He told me about three major points concerning true joy that I’d like to share with you.

First, if you want to be joyful, surround yourself with joyful people.

That is one of reasons I love camp so much. At Weequahic, one of the defining themes of our staff interviews and training rests on joy – how much counselors have and how willing they  are to express it. The best staff members may not be the most talented singers, hockey teachers, or bunk cleaners. They are, however, always the most joyful.

So, how do you handle those ‘joy suckers’ around you? My friend suggested to be kind to them but just don’t hang out with them. Makes sense to me!

Secondly, true joy comes from devoting your life to something larger than your own personal happiness.

Tony and I were just talking the other day about our most memorable coaching experiences. Both involved helping a young person achieve a level of athletic competence they didn’t think possible. The look on their faces when they did something they never thought they could do was priceless. There was complete joy in their faces and manner. That was the best reward we could have received!

Our bunk counselors and campers see this every day at Weequahic. Bunks that truly come  together becomes an ‘us’ rather than a collection of ‘me’s.’ And that is when the magic really starts to happen.

By the way, did you know that those who devote themselves to their own personal happiness never truly find it? It will always remain out of reach.

Finally, he told me that joy will always be in spite of something else.

I love this point. Camp, as much as we would like to make it so, is never perfect. There will always be a few bugs, a meal that is not as good as mom’s, or an evening activity that is just not your favorite. However, if you are waiting for the conditions to change in your life for joy to arrive, you’ll wait a mighty long time.

Karl Barth said “Joy is a defiant ‘never the less!’ It’s not contingent on circumstances. If it is, we are all in trouble.”

Sure, we can be upset by something. However, this moment of sorrow should be temporary and our primary attitude should be that of gratitude and joy.

So, this holiday season, I wish you the happiness which comes from joyful friends and families, being a part of something larger than yourself, and the recognition that, despite the bumps in life, joy is an attitude you can choose to adopt daily.

Happy holidays, all!

Cole Kelly


It’s a Camp Thing

If you have children who attend sleepaway camp, work at a sleepaway camp, or know anyone who attends or works at a sleepaway camp, chances are that you’ve heard this at least once in your life: “It’s a camp thing.”  For those of you wondering what that means, here’s an exclusive look inside the world of sleepaway camp and exactly what constitutes “a camp thing”.

We’ll begin with a definition.  “A camp thing” is an experience or tradition that is unique to summer camp.  It’s also actually “camp things” rather than a singular “thing”, since there are a host of experiences exclusive to the summer camp environment.  Have you ever taken part in a competition, spread over several days, that divides the entire camp into two teams and requires contestants to do such things as cover their heads with shaving cream so that a teammate can attempt to make cheese curls stick to it, dress in crazy team colored gear that includes the crazy garb combination of tutus, mismatched socks, and face paint, or passed buckets of water down a line in a race to see who will fill their container first?  Nope?  Do you know why?  It’s “a camp thing”.  Ever sat alongside several hundred other people around a campfire while you watch friends and staff members perform crazy acts, sing songs or participate in games?  Nope?  Yeah…it’s another “camp thing”.

In case it’s not obvious, “camp things” happen every day at camp, from that first moment when you get off the bus and see your camp friends and your new counselors holding your bunk signs for the first time to the last when you’re saying ‘goodbye until next summer.’  Camp things are being part of a league sports team, whether it wins or loses, going on a special trip out of camp to get ice cream, performing rituals and eating s’mores around a campfire, sitting with your friends at cookouts, taking part in the traditions that are unique to each and every summer camp, and understanding the feeling of being part of a camp family.  Camp things are having sleepovers with your bunk  or having a venue in which you and your camp friends can pretend to be a rock band, DJs, or magicians.  Camp things are that special inside joke that your friends  share all summer, end-of-the-summer trips out of camp, sing-a-longs when you’re arm-in-arm with your camp friends.  And hugging some of your best friends while singing your camp alma mater and watching candles burn or fireworks explode, knowing that you might not see them again until next summer, is definitely the most precious of “camp things”.  If only everyone could experience “a camp thing”…

The Great Pumpkin Challenge Results

I’m thrilled to show off the winners (and honorable mention designees) of this year’s Great Pumpkin Challenge. The pictures came in from all over the US and France and we were thrilled with the participation. Congratulations to our winners and thank you to everyone for entering this year!

Can’t wait for camp,


All Around Winner–Matt M.

Goofiest Winner–Alyssa K. for “Ox”

Campiest Winners

Shayna B.                                                                             Jasmine S.

Scariest Winners

Isaac B.                                                                                  Sophie M.

Honorable Mention

Molly G                                                                       Gabi S.                                                   .

…and Zach A.