Tag: camp weequahic

Camp Weequahic Pennsylvania Sleep Away Camp

Mac’s Lessons

It’s been a few weeks since we lost our dog Mac. The outpouring of support has been heartwarming and greatly appreciated. As I said in my earlier post, he was a damn good dog that we are going to miss greatly. And, he left us with a number of important lessons that I wanted to share.

Flawed Can Be Perfect

When Kate asked me 11 years ago if we should go ‘look at a puppy’, my response was no ever goes and just looks at a puppy. “No, this one has already been promised to a breeder out in California,” she responded. So, I relented. We loaded the young Kelly boys into the mini-van and off we went.

Of course, once we got to the breeder, Sumo (as Mac was originally known due to his ample puppy-girth) was now available. He’d been found to have a ‘defective’ internal part. It was not something you (or Mac) would ever notice. It wouldn’t affect his life in anyway. But the breeder in California didn’t want him because he was ‘flawed.’

Well, he certainly turned out perfect for us.   

Be Excited to See… Everyone

Arriving home from trips visiting prospective families, I knew I would get a nice ‘welcome back’ from Kate and the boys. But Mac’s tail-wagging and smiling and barking routine was fantastic.

He didn’t save that just for me. He was excited to greet everyone: our UPS driver when she arrived at the front porch, Assistant Director Sue upon her daily stop by our home office, Kate’s parents when they dropped something off or came for dinner, and the families around the neighborhood.

Everyone got a wag and a sniff from Mac. Sometimes they even got a tooth-baring smile. It didn’t matter if he knew you for years or it was a first time. While some would say that was just Mac wanting some attention, I’d ask this question: ‘But did his greeting make you feel good?’

Of course. It’s always nice when someone is excited to see you.

Discipline = Freedom

When I grew up in Georgia, dogs were allowed to roam the neighborhood. (Fine… insert the crotchety-old-man music here.) My first dog would go off for gallivants without a care. She’d always return, sometimes days later and normally with a new friend in tow.

Today, dogs are much more contained. They are always on leash when out and, if in a yard, sit behind a metal or electric fence of some sort. I can’t help but feel sad for these pack animals who were built to roam. But most don’t have the discipline for such freedom.

At camp, Mac had the run of the place, no leash and no fence required. Why? Because he had demonstrated a lot of discipline during his time with us. He didn’t eat off the table. He didn’t run after cars. If we asked him to sit or stay or get down, he would.

Let’s be clear: this discipline did not come naturally or easily. Kate and I (but mostly Kate) spent a great deal of time training, walking, correcting and caring for Mac.

Over time, he learned that because of the discipline he showed in many little things, he would gain freedom to move about camp as he wished. And, his continued discipline demonstrated around the kids and staff of Weequahic kept that freedom open.

This is the same with us. If we are disciplined with our eating or exercise or money or impulses, we’ll have more freedom to enjoy things both now and in the future. But that discipline, while vitally important, doesn’t come easy. It takes a lot of training… and a bit of love.

Lessons from a Dog’s Life

Mac certainly taught us more than just the lessons above. Some lessons he tried to teach never quite took. For instance, we like the video drone more than he did. And, we’d rather not try to get a fish off a hook with our mouths. Both seemed to work well for Mac, though.

The biggest lesson is one of companionship. To Mac, we were part of his pack, his tribe. He didn’t talk, he didn’t put a hand over the shoulder or give advice. His simple presence was enough. And maybe that’s enough for all of us.

Have a great week, everyone!

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.

It is OK to Act Your Own Age – How camp allows kids and young adults to enjoy being young

Many first time parents are guilty of rushing their babies from one milestone to the next, pushing them to sit then crawl then walk, while seasoned parents have learned to appreciate each step and understand how fast each stage flies by. As kids grow, they too can find themselves wishing their childhood away, always wishing they were older and on to the next stage of their lives. In this fast-paced world, kids are hurrying through the most joyful times of their lives in pursuit of freedom and independence, and before they know it they’re paying bills and reminiscing about “the good ‘ol days”

 

Camp strives to meet kids right where they are; to embrace their innocence, their goofy-ness, their awkwardness and their curiosity. Camp is a safe place for kids to act like kids without the fear of being judged. Camp Weequahic is serious about fun, and has become a place where kids can be fully immersed in childhood play. Instead of taking selfies and worrying about where they fit in with their peers, they are chasing lightning bugs, judging belly flop contests, singing songs around a fire, and putting on shows. They are being kids, which is exactly how they should be spending their summers.

 

And kids aren’t the only ones acting like kids. Camp counselors come back year after year because of the freedom and joy that comes from being at camp. Camp counselors use their summers at camp as a way to escape the rules and restrictions of adulthood and embrace their inner child. They play games, dress up, sing songs and fully engage with the campers every day. They use this time to free themselves from the ridged expectations of their everyday lives and participate in the activities that make them feel like a kid again.

 

The school year is full of schedules, deadlines, and commitments that can sometimes overshadow the importance of play. With clubs, sports, family obligations and school expectations, kids can bogged down with responsibilities that takes the fun out of being a kid. Although a healthy balance of work and play is vital for growing minds, the summer should be a time where kids can relax a little and enjoy this fleeting time of their lives. As adults, we know how fast this time goes, and we should encourage the children in our lives to spend as much time as they can playing, laughing, getting dirty, trying new things and being silly. And that is exactly what Camp Weequahic aims to offer each and every camper.