Category: Campfire Conversation

Woodworking

Attention Matters

To what do you attend the most? In other words, if you were to divide your day up into little blocks… say 30 minutes a block for 48 blocks a day… how would they be filled?

If you are a ‘typical’ Weequahic camper (which means nothing other than you are aspiring to be a fantastic human being), you fill:

  • 18 blocks with ‘sleep’
  • 14 blocks with ‘school’
  • 1 block with ‘eating’
  • 4 blocks with ‘homework’

That means you’ve got 11 blocks left – about 5.5 hours. Now, considering the average young American spends more than 7 hours a looking at screen for entertainment purposes, you probably spend a good bit of those remaining blocks playing a game, watching a video or something else.

Your Blocks

How are you spending your time? Are you giving your attention to a screen, to a book, to a friend or something else? ‘Giving’ is the correct word. You get to choose… once you become aware of it actually being a choice.

That’s the funny thing with today’s screens. They are incredibly good at demanding your attention. The graphics are incredible on the games. When I started playing, ‘Space Invaders’ was equal parts fun and annoying. Same with PacMan and ‘Pong.’ It’s so easy to give your attention to the games that are prevalent now for hours.

When we give our attention to that kind of entertainment – games, social media, videos, etc. – what are the consequences? There are some good ones: connection with friends, being up to date with the goings on in culture, possibly learning something useful.

What could be some of the negative consequences? There are a lot that scientists, parents, and kids have reported. What do you think? When you look at your ‘block’ list of a day, does how you fill it up engage you, leave you curious or connected to others? What does it do to your ability to attend to hard things?

Can’t Wait for Camp

As we move closer to camp, I get more and more excited for our kids and staff. They are inching towards a time when their waking hours are filled with friends, real world connection, laughter and thoughtful moments. A time when the only bells you expect announce a meal or activity change. When a ‘beep’ means the golf cart is coming by rather than a message just landed.

There are consequences of that, too. You’ll miss what is happening in cyberspace right now. It’s ok – you’ll catch up. You’ll also fill up your soul with everything you’ll need for year ahead. A summer at camp – can’t beat it. See y’all soon!

PS – Parents, there is a great podcast on this topic with Bari Weiss and Johann Hari.

A Useful Change

We’ve so enjoyed running summer camps over the past twenty summers. Seeing the kids learn and grow has been a blessing. And, after years of thinking about it, Kate and I have decided to show some courage and follow our true passion.

We are turning Camp Weequahic into a standardized test preparation mecca!

Rather than waterskiing or bouncing on the lake toys, we’ll be focused on the finer details of trigonometry. Instead of cooking in Top Chef or creating in Ceramics, we’ll dive deeply into the Latin roots of vocabulary. In lieu of Weequahic Basketball, Soccer or Football League, our campers (‘students’ may be a better word?) will spend time developing strategies for the ‘if a equals b’ questions and preparing for the writing prompts.

We are so excited about this change as it helps our campers reach the peak of what middle and early high school life should revolve around: preparing for a test!

A Few More Updates

Campfire will still be a great thing and will happy every Friday night. Instead of focusing on building community and exploring our (old) values of gratitude, attitude and courage, we’ll host an academic quiz bowl led by guest proctors from around the world. We’ll make s’mores as long as there is time. (Oh, and our new values: study, study, study!)

Speaking of which, bedtime will have to be a bit earlier – 8:30pm for everyone. Studies show that rising by 6am and getting right to academic work is best for our 15-year-olds so we are going to make everyone enjoy the same routine. And you’ll need your rest. Twelve-hour days of test preparation will take a lot out of you.

Oh… and we’ll (finally!) have some changes to Canteen. Gone will be those flavorless skittles, Swedish fish and slush puppies. We all know they aren’t good for you. They’ll be replaced with brainwave increasing raw carrots, freeze-dried kelp and cabbage smoothies. Finally! Food that is both tasty and good for you.

The Ultimate Goal

So, in short, everything we are going to do at camp this summer and for all summers going forward will revolve around what matters most: your ACT or SAT score.

Sure, being a well-rounded person who acts gratefully, who has the power to choose your attitude and who builds courage in small ways daily is… nice (I guess). But that’s not what life is all about. People like that don’t make the world a better place.

We all know the marker of a great human, one who builds community and trust and is most successful in life is their standardized test score. So, we are going to do our part.

Ah… six glorious weeks of test prep… CAN’T WAIT!!

Photo by Nguyen Dang Hoang Nhu on Unsplash

PS – Happy April 1st!

The Arts Studio

Keep Growing

I had the opportunity to be in Paris last week seeing families. While it was all about seeing families, I got to spend a bit of Tuesday in the Musée d’Orsay. I don’t know much about art but I know this: the beauty contained in that building and the stories told on canvases are inspiring, breath-taking and worth the trip.

While the subjects and styles were incredibly diverse, I noticed a common thread. While reading the explanation markers next to the works or listening to the audio tour (yes, yes – I’m a total nerd), most of the painters were paying tribute to past masters or works that had influenced them.

It didn’t matter if I were looking at a Manet, Van Gogh, Courbet or Degas… all of the painters produced works that had been influenced by those before them.

Building

We are always building on top of those who went before us. Dr. King studied those who had come before him – Jesus and the disciples of the New Testament all the way to Gandhi – as he developed and led the Civil Rights movement. The developers of YouTube, Instagram and Snap all built upon the code and ideas which had previously come into the marketplace from others.

Camp is the same. Tradition is certainly important. And change must be embraced… as long as it is growth rather than decline. 

At Camp Weequahic, we’ve learned from other great spaces for children and staff. We’ve taken ideas from books, boutiques and even banks. Kate and I learned from those who came before us, women and men who were generous with their time and knowledge. People like Jancy Dorfman and Scott Ralls, legends of camping, were happy to share. 

Our most recent generation is teaching us as well. Our college-aged staff keep us young and engaged with the current trends. They bring their own experience from other camps and walks through life. New ideas which they share continue to keep Weequahic moving forward while remaining grounded in our mission of creating amazing.

Let’s Keep Learning

So, to the past masters, thank you. And to all those who continue to bring ideas to our table, keep them coming. We can’t wait to see the art we create together!