Month: July 2013

A Whole New World

At one of America’s Finest Summer Camps, a first year camper, upon stepping off the bus on arrival day for the first time, immediately exclaimed, “I’ve been waiting for this moment my whole life!” The awe of that young camper at that moment was very reminiscent of the scene in The Little Mermaid in which the young mermaid Ariel finds herself on land for the first time and, with her new legs, begins experiencing a whole new world.  She is mesmerized by the smallest human things—flatware, trinkets, and mirrors.  For young campers who finally get to come to camp for the first time after sometimes waiting their “whole lives,” there is a sense of wonder in being in a new place with different people and things.  They are surrounded by literally dozens of activities that perhaps they’ve never tried and, sometimes, of which they’ve never even heard.  Like Ariel the mermaid, they sometimes hear about the world of camp from older siblings for years before finally getting to experience themselves.  With that newness and the adventure of being in a place one has dreamed for a very long time comes a sense of openness and a willingness to try new things.  New campers often want to try EVERYTHING!

And why not?  What better way to discover which things one loves than at summercamp, an environment in which many new campers are away from their parents for the first time?  There is no sideline pressure from over-zealous parents and coaches at camp sports.  There are no teachers to mark right from wrong.  Instead, new campers are surrounded by supportive counselors, staff, and friends, many of whom are also first time campers and that natural empathy creates an atmosphere conducive to bonding and the formation of lasting friendships.

As campers maneuver the new world of camp, they share like experiences.  Whether big, like taking on a high ropes course for the first time as a cabin  or bunk, or small, like learning how to bait a fishing hook, learning what camp is all about becomes the foundation for the transformation of the new world of first time campers into the special world of camp. Because the menu of camp activities constantly expands and evolves, there is a perpetual newness to the summer camp experience.

What Makes a Great Counselor at Weequahic

We have been thrilled with our Camp Weequahic staff and have been excited to get so much positive feedback from our camp families. Many have asked about the qualities we look for in a staff member. Here’s a good list (but not a complete one!)

  • Patience
  • ‘Other’ focused rather than ‘me’ focused
  • Fun
  • Concerned with physical and emotional safety above all
  • Engaged with the kids on their level at all times
  • A person who advocates for their campers while keeping the bigger picture of camp in mind.
  • Gracious
  • Polite
  • Chooses their attitude daily
  • Courageous
  • Someone who manages their energy well
  • Excited and able to teach in a specific area
  • Fantastic role model
  • Excited to give up two months of their summer in order to make life long memories and a leave positive, lasting impression on
  • children.

We are excited to welcome new staff to our community each summer. These new staff members normally come through word of mouth referrals and have to go through several rounds of interviews, background checks and our nine day orientation before working with our campers. We are thrilled to welcome them to our community and help them build the type of experience that makes campers never want to leave!

Letters Home

Before texting and skype, before emails and faxes, there was a tried and true method of communication called ‘letter writing.’ Putting pencil to paper was one of the most effective ways to communicate for a long time. All that is needed is a piece of paper, an envelop, a stamp and a little bit of effort – no electricity required!

At Camp Weequahic, we certainly enjoy the benefits of technology. Our parents see up to 300 pictures a day. We base our fun and rather intricate daily program on an online data system. We keep in touch with our trips with cell phones and walkie talkies. However, when it comes to our campers connecting with parents at home, we are big time traditionalists.

Campers are required to bring a letter to dinner two nights a week. Their letter is their ticket into
the meal and, yes, we do make sure there is something written in the envelope! Of course, the campers can write as much as they’d like.

While it certainly takes longer to arrive home, these letters become treasured pieces of family lore. We have many times witnessed Mom and Dad bringing out their old camp letters to read when meeting our director, Cole. These letters bring out several laughs and helps prepare the next generation.

We at Weequahic are happy to hold on to a great deal of camp tradition. Regardless of where technology is taking us, we writing letters is as important as Color War to the tradition of camp. Happy writing!