Category: Summer Camp

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!


A group of dads and 8th grade boys and I were talking a bit last week. We were focusing on how to protect against the challenges that culture throws at us… and the challenges we throw at ourselves. 

One young guy asked a question about the seven ‘deadly’ sins. It was a phrase I’d not heard in a while so we looked them up: pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath and sloth.

These were first discussed in the 6th century. The idea was to name the ‘foundational’ challenges (or sins) that lead us humans to other challenges. If we knew what the bad things were, the thought went, we could defend against them.

All are pretty self-explanatory. Thinking of yourself too much (pride), being jealous of others (envy), getting really, really angry (wrath), having that 4th… or 7th cookie (gluttony),etc. But, being the overbearing camp director that I am, we started going through each one. 

About three quarters of the way through, another young man looked up and said, “It seems like most of these could be categorized as ‘wanting.’ I want too much food, too much entertainment, too much money.”

It was a great insight by an 8th grade guy. But what came next was even better. 

The Antidote

One of the other dads in the group looked around, smiled and asked, ‘If most of these problems start with wanting too much, what’s the antidote? How do you stop it from getting going?”’ 

Without batting an eye, the young man responded, “Probably being grateful for what you have.” 


This principle applies as much to an 8th grader as it does to a business tycoon as it does to a writer. In fact, I recently heard a story that brought this idea home. 

Kurt Vonegurt wrote about an experience he and fellow writer Joseph Heller had together. While at some big party in a fancy house, Vonegurt looked at Heller and said, “Joe, how does it feel knowing that our host made more money yesterday than your book, Catch 22, made in its history?” 

To quote the rest: 

And Joe said, “I’ve got something he can never have.”

And I said, “What on earth could that be, Joe?”

And Joe said, “The knowledge that I’ve got enough.”


That’s a hard thing to do in this day and age. It’s soooo easy to find examples of what you don’t have – more things, more recognition, more free time. Culture is set up around us to egg that ‘wanting’ onward. 

And, frankly, some of that wanting is a good thing. You want to better yourself and the circumstances of those around you. You want justice for those not receiving it. You want and work towards understanding. 

For many of us, there comes a moment when you simply forget to be grateful for that and those which are in your life because you are so focused on wanting ‘more’… whatever that ‘more’ is. That marks the point of diminishing returns, the downward slide. 

At some point, there has to be enough. Because striving towards things that don’t fill you up in a way that makes you and your loved ones better will start to do damage to you and your loved ones eventually. Mr. Heller knew this. The young man around the table knows it as well.

What is Enough?

Now, ‘enough’ will seem to be different for you at different times. What is enough in middle school is different than in college or when you are a parent. The funny thing is that it is really not that different at all. In a letter to his wife, Abigail, President John Adams said it best:

The longer I live, the more I read, the more patiently I think, and the more anxiously I inquire, the less I seem to know…Do justly. Love mercy. Walk humbly. This is enough.

Works for me and probably will for you, too. Have a great weekend. 

(Full disclosure: I was battling ‘pride’ myself around that table. The young man who had the insight and answer above is a Weequahic guy through and through.)


It’s Starting

Before we get too deep into this, I want to be totally honest about two points.

First, I’m an optimist. The glass has always been not only half full of water, but totally full. (Because it’s got air in it.)

Sure, I’ll see the realistic side of things, too. That’s a big reason why we did not open last summer. Could we have hosted camp? Yes. But the unknown was too great at that point. Which leads me to the second point.

Our three boys have been in face to face schooling since middle August. One of the boys was ‘contact-traced’ for a week but, otherwise, we’ve had no problems with COVID-19. In a school district with more than 8,000 students, the highest weekly positivity rate has been .49%. We’ve averaged closer to .14% throughout the year. 

We mask when we go into a store. We keep our distance from others. And, because we are getting ready for summer, we read and ask questions and study everything that comes out of the CDC and the National Institutes of Health concerning COVID.

Based on everything I’m reading – plus the fact that the Governors of both New York and Massachusetts have recently said they’ll be opening camps this summer, we’ll be ready to go. Especially since Pennsylvania is already in the ‘green’ phase!

Let’s Go to CAMP!

Our kids need it. (So do our parents!) We’ve learned a lot of lessons through this experience and one certainly is the absolute need for kids to be outdoors, connecting with friends, and exploring new things.

Another lesson is that camp can be run safely, especially with testing before arrival, upon and 6 days in, social distancing of pods, mask wearing, having most activities outside, and keeping good hygiene going.

(By the way, you can see how we are approaching things here.)

Are we ready to say exactly what we are doing across every aspect of camp? Not yet. Though we’ve spent (literally) 12 months planning for it, we’ve still got four months between now and our campers’ arrival. There will be some changes, modifications and fine-tuning of the plan.

And, I must give some props to the entire industry and especially our friends in the Wayne County Camp Alliance. Everyone is pitching in to share knowledge, ask questions, and learn together. We’ll all be ready for this summer, all the more so because we’ve prepared together.

Let’s Start Planning Now… Together

Weequahic, it’s time to start planning in earnest for a fantastic summer. Most of our camper forms are available on your CampMinder account. The Campanion app will be a very useful tool for you for the spring and coming summer. Please download it to your phone or other mobile device.

We’ll be hosting monthly conversations on our private Weequahic Families Facebook group starting this Sunday at 8pm est. I hope you’ll join us and ask as many questions as you can. If you don’t do Facebook, let us know and we’ll send you a link to the video to watch elsewhere.

Answers about traveling to camp, our activity choices, and a few other details will arrive as we move through the Spring. So will a few new ideas… and some pictures of our new floating Water Park!

As always, please don’t hesitate to call or write anytime. This is all we do and we love talking with you.

Ah… let’s go to camp. See you this summer, if not before!