Month: November 2016

The Beauty of Camp Weequahic



Chelsea takes the subway to school every morning.  Justin spends his weekends hanging out downtown with his buddies. Evan can walk to movie theaters, restaurants, and museums from the apartment where he lives. These city kids spend most of their year surrounded by concrete, honking horns and tall buildings. And that is why they, like so many other kids from big cities, really look forward to coming to camp for a change in their environment.


Camp Weequahic is located in one of the most beautiful areas of the country. Tucked away amongst tall trees, gorgeous lakes and on acres and acres of sprawling green fields, this camp is the definition of natural beauty. When you’re here, you can really connect with nature and breathe in the fresh mountain air.


The lakes are a cool and refreshing place to spend the summer, whether is it fishing, swimming, stand up paddleboarding, water skiing or sailing. The view of the lake changes throughout the day and gives off a different feeling depending on when you are there. In the morning, the lake is a quiet and peaceful place to wake up to. In the afternoons, it is an exciting, water playground where campers jump, splash and play all day. And then in the evenings, the lake is a quiet and peaceful place to reflect and unwind. City kids may not get to experience such natural beauty in their everyday lives, making the beauty of camp even more special for kids who don’t get to see it very often.


Waking up to a view of tall forest trees and the mountains is a nice change for kids who are used to the hustle and bustle of a big city.  The natural beauty of camp makes for the perfect backdrop to pictures that campers are sure to treasure forever. Waking up each morning and breathing in the crisp mountain air is good for the heart, mind, and soul!


Being immersed in the beauty of the mountains is a welcome and unique experience for many campers.  Spending the summer learning to appreciate the outdoors helps campers do the same when they return home. Instead of coming home from school and sitting in front of a computer screen or TV, campers head outside to enjoy nature just like they did at camp.  They learn that they don’t need to be attached to phone, TV or computer to have a good time and that real relationships trump online relationships every time.


Being in the middle of the woods exposes campers, especially those who have grown up in big cities, to things they normally wouldn’t see and experience back home. They learn to find excitement and joy in nature, and it awakens something in them that the city just can’t.


Kids like Chelsea, Justin and Evan benefit greatly from a change of scenery and the chance to connect with nature. Spending time outside has been proven to improve vision, encourages social skills, reduce stress and give kids the vitamin D that they need. Who knew spending all day outside at camp is actually good for kids?!


Whether they grew up in the suburbs or in the middle of Times Square, kids love escaping to the mountains, and spending their summers on the lake, in the mountains and surrounded by nature.


Boundary Lessons

While living in Athens, GA during the ‘off-season’ keeps me a little warmer, it also makes for a lot of travel. When I can, I make a trip up to Camp Weequahic to check on our winter projects and spend time with our maintenance team. It’s a treat to see the guys and think about all the new projects we preparing for the kids.

My most recent trip to camp reminded me of an important lesson.

The Snow Drive

Let’s the set the scene: it was a dark and very stormy night. I mean that literally – snow was img_7926plummeting down driven by a hard, gusty wind late in the evening.

A trip that normally takes two and a half hours from NYC was stretching into it’s fourth hour. And, those normally dark country roads were all the more interesting because of the unplowed snow. Because of all the snow, I could not see the edge of the road – on either side!

With six miles to go to get Weequahic, I was running out of mental gas. Then, something great happened. My tires found the center lane ‘boundary bumps.’

These marks are regular gouges taken out of the exact middle of the road. If you accidentally stray toward the opposite lane, your tire makes a very distinct rumbling sound. It wakes you up quickly to the mistake and reminds you to get back to your side.

This was exactly what I needed. Since there were no other cars on the road and I was traveling way under the speed limit, I put my left tires on those boundary bumps. After 20 minutes of a slightly loud and bumpy ride, I made it safely to camp.

The Need for Boundaries

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Yes, boundaries include putting on your helmets and guards!

Boundaries are important. They keep us safe and point us in the direction we need to move. While they are important for adults, they are even more important for young people.

Some families are concerned about that our choice-based program is too open, too free. When it’s explained that girls are playing only with other girls in their same age group while the boys are doing the same elsewhere, they start to see the boundaries. When we explain that each kid is individually tracked throughout the day, families get more comfortable.

We believe in boundaries at Weequahic, ‘walls’ if you want to call them that. But, they are walls of a playground. And, we spend an enormous amount of time choosing and training the staff who mentor and re-direct our campers who need it.

Whether it’s teaching someone how to recognize the effects of their actions, opening up to new friendships, or being grateful, our boundaries help to guide and instruct. The result of these thoughtful and firm boundaries is a community that is kind, open, and engaged.

The Take Away

You’ve got boundaries in your life. Some are really useful like the bumps needed to make it safely toScreen Shot 2015-10-26 at 2.50.36 PM home or guidance that patiently and kindly directs you to better action. Some boundaries, which keep you from reaching your full potential or dampen your creativity, are not good and need to be battled with courage.

Learn to question the boundaries around you and take stock of their true meaning for your life. If you want a life without limit, make sure to mind the right boundaries and break through the bad ones. Have a great weekend!

The Importance of Play-Based Learning at Camp


With hundreds of different activities, sports, events and things to do at Camp Weequahic, it is no surprise that campers spend a large portion of their day at play. Whether you’re playing on the soccer field, on the lake, on the stage or in the pool, there is never a shortage of playtime at camp. But there is more to play than just having a good time. When kids play, they learn, and when they learn, they grow. For campers, it may feel like a summer free from learning or education, but they are learning a lot while they play.


Studies show that when young children play, whether it is with blocks, cars, on the playground or in a sport, they are doing a lot more than having fun. Play sparks their imaginations, which helps to improve their problem solving skills and encourages creativity. Being able to play alone helps kids feel independent, while playing in a group helps kids with important values such as sharing, compromise, taking turns, patience and flexibility. More physical play, like running, jumping or dancing helps kids with their balance and coordination, and boosts their confidence. Play is the main way that kids explore the world, and is essential in their social and emotional development.


At camp, kids spend all summer playing, and therefore spend all summer learning. They may not realize that participating in crafts is teaching patience, hand-eye coordination and appreciation for the arts, and they may not realize that team sports is teaching them cooperation and communication. It may not be until they get home and others begin to see a change in their personality or character that they realized they learned a lot at camp. They may search their brains trying to pinpoint a moment when they learned a certain thing, and most won’t be able to. Learning through play can be a subtle process, which is also why is it so effective.


Play based learning is just as important as academic learning. Kids spend all year behind a desk, looking up at a teacher who is spitting out information. If they are lucky, they will get one or two teachers to use a more hands on approach to learning, but as the students get older, play and exploratory learning becomes less and less common. After spending all year filling their brains with facts and figures, a summer of play is something most kids look forward to. Some will spend their summers in front of a mind numbing computer screen or watching endless hours of TV, which does nothing for their developing minds. Kids who spend their summers running, jumping, trying, failing, laughing, communicating, climbing, making, singing and exploring learn so much more than those in front of a screen. They learn about the world around them, about their peers, and most importantly, about themselves.


The importance of play cannot be stressed enough when it comes to the growing minds of kids. Young kids are like sponges, and soak in information from all areas of their lives. Spending the summer at camp gives them a chance to learn differently than they do all year, and studies show that what kids learn during play may stick with them longer than listening to the same information through a lecture. When they do it themselves, when they touch and see and feel and experience something, they will remember it.

Campers play all day, which is why they love being at camp. While they are playing, they are also learning, which is why parents love summer camp. Academic learning is a vital part of childhood development, but play works on a child’s brain like nothing else can, and the best part: they don’t even know it’s happening.