Month: August 2018

Innie or Outie?

During the last few gasps of summer, the boys and I hit the local pool for some fun in the sun. Our pool does not have the same great view of Sly Lake that we enjoy at camp but it’s still pretty nice.

After throwing Luke and Jack around a bit, I took a break by the side of the pool. As two little neighborhood boys skittered by, I couldn’t help but overhearing their conversation:

“Yours is an ‘outie.’ My belly button is an ‘innie.’ Yours is cooler than mine….”

Ha! It’s a conversation I remember having a similar conversation with a buddy forty years ago. With our boys starting school, my thoughts drifted to their groups of friends. It made me think of ‘innies’ and ‘outies’ from a social standpoint. Of course, that got me thinking of camp, specifically about how we train our staff.

Kate comes up with all sorts of games for our staff to play during Orientation. They think it’s all just for fun… at first. And, not surprisingly, most of the games start in the form of a circle.

Circle One

One of my favorites has all of the staff form a couple of really big circles. Each has about 50 staff member standing shoulder to shoulder, facing inward. Two staff members are picked out at random and we tell them to try and get in the circle.

Well, those two normally do everything they can – jumping, trying break through, sliding underneath legs, etc. The circle members, without being told to, normally do their best to keep the ‘intruder’ out.

This is a pretty normal response. If you were ‘in’ the circle, you’d probably get a little competitive and think, ‘They aren’t going to get into the circle by me!’

But is that the point of game? No, the point was for the person ‘outside’ to get inside the circle. What if they just walked up, tapped someone in the circle on the shoulder and asked, “Mind if I come in?”

How many times have you seen someone do everything they can to try to get ‘in your circle?’ The more outlandish things they try, the more annoying they become, right?

But what if they just walked up and said ‘Hi. Mind if I join you?’ You’d probably be more likely to let them, wouldn’t you?

Circle Two

Another circle game has the staff get in groups of five. They exchange names, answer a few goofy questions, and laugh a bit while getting to know one another.

Then, for some random reason, we pick one staff member to leave the group. Whoever is tallest. Which staff member has the longest hair. Whoever traveled the furthest to get to camp, etc.

They are literally cast out and told to find another group. The four remaining in the group are asked to remain silent.

It’s tough seeing those people wander about trying to find a group of four to join. The limit for each group is five people so there is always a lot looking around for a new crew. They are searching for a group, wandering the room, not knowing if and when they’ll find a new group.

We do this once or twice before we introduce a wrinkle: having your name called out. This changes everything.

Rather than the groups of people remaining silent while some person searches for a group to join, the group of four start actively calling the wanderer’s name. ‘Sarah, come join us.’ ‘Drew, over here!’ ‘Scrappy, we need you!’

Totally different experience, isn’t it? That simple change – from silent to calling – makes all the difference. It’s always better being called, invited, than not, right? All it takes is for the group to start looking outward and having the courage to call out.

Your Circle

One of the great things about our summers at Weequahic is the circle we form together. It’s big, it’s inclusive, and it’s really fun. The challenge for you back home is to actively decide what type of circle you’ll have and/or how you’ll try to enter other circles.

Almost every ‘circle’ you’ll see will be facing inward towards each other. And they should – it’s fun to be with your friends. However, it’s equally important to sometimes open up the circle to add more people… as long as they make the circle better.

It’s also important to sometimes completely turn the circle so that you are facing outwards, arms open and out-stretched.

That’s how we want camp to feel when our campers get here – counselors shoulder to shoulder, arms stretched out, reaching and smiling towards the on-coming campers. It makes for a great start.

You can do the same with your friends and possible-friends back home. You’ll have an ‘outie’ circle that way… and it’ll be pretty cool.

Have a great start to the school year!

The Push and Pull of Connection

There are lots ways to think of the word ‘connection.’ You can talk about connecting to someone on the telephone, joining two transistors, connecting to the wireless. You can also talk about connecting with other people.

The first set of connections is mechanical – you plug pieces together or type in a few commands and you are connected. With humans, though, it’s a lot more emotional and it requires being in the present moment, together.

Not too long ago, to connect with someone across the city, state or the world, you had to make an expensive phone call or send a letter that would take well over a week.

Campers, you don’t know that world. Each of you were born into a world with literally instant communication with anyone, anywhere in the world. Rather than having to make individual connections like your parents did – phone call by phone call, letter by letter – you have group chats, Instagram broadcasts, and snapchats.

But, while you can connect with more people more easily, I wonder if you are less connected to your peers as your parents were to theirs? A lot of recent studies find you are not.

It seems that with the rise of connection over social media, we are being pushed further and further away from each other.

The Pull of Camp

Thankfully, for six glorious weeks each summer, we change that dynamic.

The individual social media ‘push’ turns into a camp-wide ‘pull’ of connection.  We connect not only to those around us but the very moments in which we live. We spend more time focused on life ‘where our feet are’, rather than being distracted by anything else.

Two pretty impressive people had something similar to say about this need of connection. Albert Einstein talked about one thing he absolutely knew: we are here (on earth) for the sake of others. Mother Teresa talked about it in a slightly different way.  She said, “If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.”

At Weequahic, we get to practice this idea of belonging to one another. It’s a such a small community, we remove (almost all) technology, and we get to simply life and laugh and learn together. We make beds, share chores, play on teams, applaud the actors, and frolic together all day. It’s magic, isn’t it?

So the question is this: How can you take some this magic back home when your camp friends feel forever away?

Connection Back Home

Here are a few ideas on how to connect back home like you do at camp:

Idea #1: First of all, take a break from social media, Fort Nite, and other tech. Instead, go and do something with your parents, your siblings (yes, I said it!), or your friends. Play a card game, take a walk, throw a ball, build legos, cook something…. The key is to do something that requires you to interact face to face rather than with your thumbs.

Idea #2: Keep a gratitude journal. You talked about it every night at Weequahic with your counselors. Why not do it at home? Get a small notebook, place it by your bed, and jot down your happies from that day every night before going to bed. Want extra credit? Share those thoughts with your parents. It helps you be more in the moment and realize what’s really important in your day.

Idea #3: Sit with someone new at lunch or reach out to some you’ve not met yet. Yes, I know it’s hard from a social situation but it is no less important. When you get to know people outside ‘your circle’, you stretch. When you stretch, you grow.

I’m sure you can take a few moments and come up with some ideas of your own. The key is to make the effort… and that takes courage and the right attitude. So, for the week ahead, do some pulling with those around you. Have a great week!

The 5 Coolest Things About Night Time At Camp

There’s something magical that happens at camp when the sun goes down at Camp Weequahic. Of course, we have the fun and excitement of our evening activities. Yes, there is so much more that sets the scene for some of the fondest memories of the summer.

Here are the five coolest things about night time at camp:


When the sun goes down and the moon rises over the camp, the entire vibe changes. What was just a high energy playground of fun and adventure turns into a calm, peaceful retreat in the mountains. And away from the city lights, the stars shine brighter than you could ever imagine! Just picture sitting with your fellow campers, searching for shooting stars and admiring the overwhelming majesty of the nighttime sky. Campers and counselors enjoy sitting their everyday chairs and finding constellations in the sky. Not only is it a great way to relax and unwind after a busy day, but it’s also an opportunity for exploration.


The campfire is a traditional part of the Weequahic experience and brings campers together unlike any other part of camp can. The bright reds and orange flames dancing against the black sky create an intimate and exciting environment in which campers can talk, sing, roast marshmallows, be silly and make memories. A campfire is a place where campers can reflect on their day, where they can share their adventures and stories with other campers, and where they can feel connected with nature. Many campers say that campfires are their favorite part of camp, as it was a special way to end the day.


There’s nothing more endearing than watching a camper experience the magic of fireflies for the first time. Fireflies put on a illuminated show for campers as they make their appearance each night. The laughter and excitement that comes from catching one of these little creatures and examining them up close is an experience that many campers have for the first time at camp. These bright little flying bugs turn night time into a light show!

Night Time Sounds

While many of the nighttime aspects of camp can be seen, there is something to be said about the unique sounds of camp at night. From owls calling in the distance to the songs of crickets and the crackling of the fire, certain sounds will stick with campers forever. These sounds, many of which can only be heard once the noise of the day has faded, serve as a soundtrack to the summer nights that campers will never forget.

Bunk Time

As the campground settles down and busy campers head back to their bunks, more memories await. Bunk time allows campers to have quiet conversations with their bunkmates and share stories and details about their lives. This low key, quiet time is a great way for campers to connect with each other without the distractions of the day. This time gives campers a chance to journal or do some self-reflecting, prepare for the next day or simply get some much-needed rest.

A summer at Camp Weequahic is packed with fun, new adventures, new friendships, and excitement all day long. But when the sun goes down, the fun doesn’t stop. Campers love night time at camp because it brings a whole new feeling and vibe to sleepaway camp. Each night, campers fall asleep with images of campfires and fireflies dancing in their heads and wake up from a good night’s rest ready for another day of fun.