Camp News & Blog

Skate park at Camp Weequahic

Influencing the Future

Last week, I talked with you about questions. Two of those questions – ‘Where am I going?’ and ‘Do I have what it takes?’ concern the future. You are taking stock of how things are right now and doing your best to envision a future ahead.

The hard part about the future is that we can’t predict it. Who would have predicted our online campfires, physical distancing, and fear caused by this outbreak? When we think about the future, because we are positive people, we normally think about improvements to the life around us.

And, why wouldn’t we? As a human society, terrible poverty has fallen dramatically. The advances in science and medicine has been astounding. People are thinking more and more about helping those around them as well as the earth itself.

We can’t predict the future. But, we can influence it.

Hope Isn’t Enough

If you want to become the best singer in your school, you would envision that future first. How it would make you feel. Being up on stage having finished an amazing piece and hearing the crowd roar their approval. As you think about that wonderful future, you hope you’ll get there.

If you want to become the best baseball player in your league, you’d imagine diving catches, sharp base hits, stolen bases, and cheers from the stands. When you think about that wonderful future, you hope you’ll get there.

But hope is not enough. If you want to get from wherever you are to where you want to go, you’ve got to make some changes. And change can really hard. It normally means giving something up or changing your focus or modifying your behavior.

What’s Important?

One of my favorite teachers spent some time with me one day after a practice. I was upset – things were not going as I wanted them. He asked me where I wanted to take my golf career. To college, I answered.

“Great,” he said, “that’s a wonderful goal.” And then he started asking me how I spent my time.

How many hours a day are you sleeping? Studying? Reading outside of school? Spending time with your family? Practicing? Playing video games? (Yes, there were video games all the way back when I was a kid, too.)

He wrote all of my answers down. I was always honest with this coach – I knew he had my best in his mind and would support me no matter what.

“Ok, here’s how many hours a week you’d sleep. Here’s how many hours of studying…” and on down the list. It turns out, I was spending as many hours playing video games as I was practicing golf. (And both were more than I was studying….)

“Cole,” he said, “I’ve always found that tracking how I spend my time and my money is the best way to see what’s most important to me. Do you think spending as much time playing video games as practicing your short game will help you become a college golfer? Do you think sleeping in every weekend will help you draw closer to your family or your faith?”

He smiled, told me to make another 50 short putts and head home. I got the message and changed my behavior: more time reading, more time practicing, and about 10% as much video games.

Handling Disappointment

That story in my life ended as I wanted it. I changed enough behaviors and beliefs in order to play golf in college. I gave up a lot, too, but the relationships and memories I gained were more than worth the trade.

But what happens when we can’t influence the future to our liking? What happens when things out of our control go wrong, go against what’s most important right here and now for you?

Well, everybody handles disappointment and grief differently. Some people get to work. Others get sad. A few get mad. Most of us, though, go through a whole range of emotions. And, you know what? That’s completely ok.

We are supposed to. Believe it or not, it’s actually good for you to feel those things and even better to, when you are ready, talk about them with someone you love and loves you back. These emotions won’t be minimized or excused away. They need to be confronted, talked about and processed. Like all things in life, the only way out of those feelings is going through them.

This Too Shall Pass

When I think about disappointment and loss, I often think of King Solomon’s ring. If you aren’t familiar, King Solomon was thought to be the wisest king of Israel. Legend has it that one of his rings had a saying that was true no matter the situation: this too shall pass.

Let me break down that sentence a bit: This – whatever is happening right now – will change into something else. We can cheat in cards and in video games but there is no cheating time. ‘Too’ – everything changes. The more you fight the change, the harder it will be on you. A better way is to be like water and flow with it, carving your own channels over time. ‘Shall’ – not maybe, not possibly, ‘shall’ – it will. ‘Pass’ – move on, pass by, change.

This sentence is really useful when things are going great. It’ll keep you humble. It’ll remind you that things change and you’ve got to change with it. Do you think Weequahic had to change much as we grew from 120 kids to 750 in 8 summers? Oh, yes, we have to change every year.

It’s also an important sentence to remember when times are scary or dark or troublesome. Those times will pass. We don’t know when, but they will. There is hope in that message.  

Our Decision Making Process

Speaking of changes, let me address the very large elephant in the room. Many of our friends in Wayne County cancelled their summer sessions today. I know the decision was terribly hard for them. While we respect their decision, we have not yet made one about Summer 2020.

As I said in my email earlier today, safety is our most important concern. And this concern involves our campers social and emotional health as well as their physical health. Being cooped up for so many weeks is hard on our kids. Camp, I believe, could be a wonderful respite for them.

We read the same headlines that you do. They are certainly concerning. We’ve been reading studies. We know that while a very small portion of children have been affected, there is a much lower risk for them. Could sleeping in a bunk increase the possibility of spreading a virus. Yes. AND, if we can test everyone before they arrive, keep our staff at Weequahic for two weeks prior to camp, and keep everyone at camp the whole time, we may be able to mitigate that risk.

We’ve been talking with our camp doctors a bunch – I think they are actually tired of hearing from me. There have been multiple conversations with many others in the field. We’ve been on testing calls, research calls, and more.

We are still waiting for guidance from the American Camp Association. Some of that has come out today. The rest will be out over the weekend. We are waiting to hear from the State of Pennsylvania’s Department of Health. I’ve heard news from them will be coming out ‘in days.’

When and How We’ll Decide

Kate and I feel obligated to do everything we can to provide our campers and staff a safe summer. We’ll continue to dig and learn and think creatively. If, after reading through the guidelines, we feel we can’t make Weequahic great and as safe as possible this summer, we’ll let you know. If we feel we can, we’ll do that too, in a very detailed manner.

We want camp for our kids and our families and our staff. We just need a little more time to see if we can make it all work. Thanks for being patient, flexible and hopeful with along the way.

Camp Weequahic sleep away camp in Pennsylvania

Dear Weequahic Families,

Hello all. I hope this note finds your family well. As promised, I wanted to give you a monthly update on our thoughts about the coming summer. As the situation continues to unfold and change daily, we still do not have any definite answers about Summer 2020. 

can tell you our year-round team has never had a busier April. We have been interviewing and hiring, planning and preparing, reading and listening. We continue to work alongside the CDC, American Camp Association, Pennsylvania Department of Health, and our friends in the Wayne County Camp Alliance to gather information, update our safety protocols and plan for a safe summer.

Decision Timeline & Suppliers

We hear recommendations will be put forth by the CDC, ACA and our local state agencies as early as this week. We have also heard this information could arrive in late May. The only common theme has been this: everyone wants camp to happen this summer, safely. We feel the same way!

We will continue to be patient, hopeful and flexible. We have spoken with CampTrucking, PackMyRx, and Amerasport and have found they are assuming the same posture. While we are happy to receive your forms now, we can also prepare everything should we receive them by mid-June.

I hope you will join us in being patient, hopeful, and flexible as we move through May. Definite plans for this summer should come into focus over the next four to five weeks. We hope to be able to offer a concrete plan – taking every possibility into account – no later than the first week of June.

Keep the GAC Going

In the meantime, we hope you will join us for some online fun at our Weequahic Families Facebook page, connect with camp friends across the world and continue to help our campers practice the values for which you chose Weequahic: showing gratitude, choosing our attitude, and building our courage.

Of course, please do not hesitate to call if you have questions. I would be happy to speak anytime. Now, more than ever, I cannot wait for camp!

Cole
Cole Kelly, Director
cole@weequahic.com • 570-798-2716

Speaking from the Heart

At Camp Weequahic, we talk a lot about ‘courage.’ It’s one of our three main values for one very good reason. To quote Maya Angelou:

Without courage we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can’t be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest.

It’s good when you are generous and kind to a friend. It’s even more so when you treat someone you don’t know. What’s the very best? When you treat everyone that way, consistently – even those people you don’t like or feel like you shouldn’t.

Doing so takes courage. It requires us to be uncomfortable and, possibly, afraid of the consequences.

Learning a Lesson

When I was a senior in high school, I got a lead part in our three-act play. I was known at school as the preppy, conservative golfer. The young lady playing the female lead – and my character’s love interest – was a liberal, artsy, ‘rebel’ in my opinion. We both got some grief from our respective groups about having to work together. I was not happy… and neither was she.

We were neither generous nor kind to each other over the first few weeks. Then, grudgingly, we started to appreciate one another. On the final night of actual show, we stood on stage accepting the applause while holding each other closely. We had become good friends who appreciated each other, despite our differences.

I often think back and wonder how much better the play would have been had we both had the courage to be kind and generous to each other.

The Heart of Courage

The word courage is an interesting one and one that is linked very closely to the ‘Heart of Weequahic’ video we showed right before this campfire talk. The best person I know of to speak about this is Dr. Brene Brown:

“Courage is a heart word. The root of the word courage is cor – the Latin word for heart. In one of its earliest forms, the word courage meant ‘To speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart.’ Over time, this definition has changed, and today, we typically associate courage with heroic and brave deeds. But in my opinion, this definition fails to recognize the inner strength and level of commitment required for us to actually speak honestly and openly about who we are and about our experiences — good and bad. Speaking from our hearts is what I think of as ‘ordinary courage.’”

Isn’t that great? I love how Dr. Brown drills down to the essence of things and puts these big ideas in such a way that we can apply them to our lives right now.

Ordinary courage is having the courage to speak honestly and openly about who we are and our experiences. It’s also about listening and accepting the gift of someone else doing the same.

My Heart Right Now

I’ll take a moment and speak from my heart.

These last five weeks have been the most difficult of my camping career. The uncertainty is the worst part: will the Pennsylvania Depart of Health allow us to open? What will the American Camp Association and CDC guidelines for summer camps require? How will our campers, families and staff members handle this experience and the decisions for this summer? Will we start on time, a few days or weeks late, or not at all? What will this do to our campers, our families, our staff, our camp and our full-time team?

I go through these incredible swings of emotions every day: I get a piece of news that leads me to think we are going to start on time and think this will be the most incredible summer ever. A few hours later, I get another piece of news that puts doubt into my heart.

Kate, Sue, Dana, Scrappy, Cammie, Jerry, John and I make plans, and the more plans, and then more again. Everything we are doing right now centers on two things: safety and flexibility. Thankfully, our suppliers feel the same way. Both Amerasport and CampTrucking will offer full refunds if camp doesn’t happen. The ACA is allowing medical forms to be filled out within the past 24 months. PackMyRx – our new camper medication fulfillment company – would send the medications home rather than to camp.

This Summer

Will we open? I don’t know. Are we planning to open? ABSOLUTELY! Are we coming up with a ton of ‘just in case’ plans? Of course. We’ll all know more in the next three weeks. As soon as we know which plan we can put in place, I’ll let all of our families know.

One other piece of my heart to share: thank you. Speaking on behalf of the team, I’m so grateful for the support, patience and love our families and staff have shown over the past several weeks. We know y’all want camp. We know that you all know that we want camp. We are going to do everything in our power to put have us all back safely at Weequahic this summer.

Whatever happens, I know our Weequahic family will face the situation with a grateful outlook, an intentionally chosen attitude, and the ordinary courage required to share our hearts. We all love you. Be safe, patient, and hopeful. We’ll all get through this… together.