For those who have never worked at a summer camp before, there are many questions to ask and ideas to consider about life at a summer camp, but at Camp Weequahic, returning staff can put all worries to rest about what it is like to work at the most special summer camp this world has to offer.
For starters, working at a summer camp is all about helping kids grow and become better individuals and one of the most rewarding aspects of working at camp is the ability to watch all sorts of talented kids grow and master what they love. More often than not, the staff returns to see the campers they have helped, anticipating all the potential within them for another summer at camp.
Along with the campers, all the staff members look forward to spending another summer with friends they have met from all over the world. Camp Weequahic nurtures friendships not just for campers, but for staff as well, and Camp Weequahic is a place that allows people to strengthen friendships with people from Australia, South Africa, England and any place imaginable.
Because of all the people staff members are able to work with, Camp Weequahic is the most positive working environment, everyone is happy to spend another day of the summer with their co-counselors and campers. It never really feels like work because you always have that much fun wherever and whatever you’re doing at Camp Weequahic. With all these positive elements of working at Camp Weequahic, it’s no wonder so many staff members return each summer to once again feel the magic of Camp Weequahic, a place that is truly worth the ten for two.
As a parent, I find myself falling into the trap of wanting my kids to “grow up” too quickly. In my more impatient moments, I find myself thinking, “Why can’t they make/do/think/etc. like I can?” Why can’t they grow up?
And then I see one of the greatest coaches of all time talk about the importance of attitude and joy and the consequences of college kids acting like 12 year olds.
Which reminds me – my boys are young! And, while I’ve taught them what it means to make good decisions, treat others kind, be thoughtful of others feelings, know and how to stand up for what’s important, they are still kids and they are supposed to make mistakes.
They aren’t grown ups and that’s a good thing. A very sweet story from Fredrik Backman illustrates this point beautifully:
“Tell me about school, Noahnoah,” Grandpa asks.
He always wants to know everything about school, but not like other adults who want to know if Noah is behaving. Grandpa wants to know if the school is behaving. It hardly ever is.
“Our teacher made us write a story about what we want to be when we’re big,” Noah tells him.
“What did you write?”
“I wrote that I wanted to concentrate on being little first.”
I like that. And, it helps me explain the gift of camp. We want our kids to concentrate on being kids before anything else. They’ll grow up soon enough and we’ll have done our part in equipping them for that growth.
But what does that mean? At Weequahic, we think it means:
Our campers get to play. They turn off, unplug, and engage with other kids who want to do the same. The get to explore with no expectations other than their safety, adventure without knowing the end result, and laugh without a care.
This leads to….
These big words really just means ‘figuring things out.’ You get your hands dirty. You sweat. You get confused and then break it apart and try again. Then, you figure it out and that knowledge is yours… forever. And, it not just about doing things – its about emotions and handling missing home and everything else. (This is where independence starts to blossom.)
This is helps and is helped by….
Making new friends
The more our campers get excited about something, the more likely they are to get connected with kids doing the same thing – they want to learn together. They want to build community. They want to reach out and trust and explore with others who feel the same. PLUS, they are surrounded by mentors excited to guide, prod, and team along the way.
This leads to….
Here’s the thing we don’t realize all the time: Courage is a muscle that is built with use. It’s not about being ‘unafraid.’ Being uncomfortable is the only time we can practice courage. And, the more friends/support we have around us, the easier it is to build those courage muscles.
Higher levels of personal courage allows us to be a peace with ourselves, more comfortable in our own skin.
This leads to…
It’s pretty simple: grateful people are happier people. And, it actually takes some courage to express gratitude since it might make you feel awkward the first time or two you do it. It takes even more courage to live by those grateful words. But the more we do, the more we get to experience….
Wonder and Joy
This is the final step in that ‘what do we campers out of camp’ chain. If they’ve played, learned without knowing it, made some friends, built their courage, and started practicing a grateful outlook, the are MUCH more likely to live with wonder and joy.
So, are these 21st Century Skills? Well, I think they are. We’ll still need to be able to cook our meals, change a tire, etc. But, with the rise of automation and technology, we’ll need to prepare our kids to become adults with these important skills. And, to me, camp is a great place to get them rolling.
Can’t wait to get everyone to camp! With GAC, Cole
Each summer, over two hundred men and women arrive at Camp Weequahic to prepare for an incredible experience. Hailing from literally around the world (17 countries and 22 US states at last count), these mostly college aged adults have chosen to spend their summer doing something different differently.
Let me explain….
What we do is pretty simple to explain: we run a residential summer camp for girls and boys ages 7 to 16.
How do we do it? That’s an easy but more involved conversation. The answer involves our structured-choice program for the kids, the way we interview, hire, and train our team, the great traditions and Evening Activities, the Dining Hall experience, what to do on trips off camp, and so much more.
We have a team of eight people who work for 10 months planning a 2 month party and then take another 10 days to get everyone else up to speed. It’s not rocket science but it’s pretty involved.
Why do we do it? Well… that’s the special answer. And, it’s the answer we delve into from the first moment of our 10-day staff orientation. It’s also the answer we finish with the night before the kids arrive. It’s the most important thing to clarify and embrace as it is at the core of everything we do.
What’s the answer, you ask? You’ll have to be a staff member to find out. But, I’ll give you a hint: it has a lot to do with creating an amazing experience for everyone we meet through gratitude, attitude and courage….
Getting Ready for Orientation
Team members should arrive with an ‘open for anything’ type attitude ready to be challenged and engaged. We put our newest team members into odd situations, fun situations, hard situations and everything in between.
We focus on the ‘why’, teach our expectations and policies, practice those in real world situations, and laugh a lot together. We help each staff member ‘sharpen their own saw’ and then work with everyone to create a community that is supportive, friendly, fun, safe, and adventurous.
What we are preparing for?
The kids! (And, frankly, each other!)
We have 450 campers from all over the US and larger world arriving at camp on June 24th. Two thirds will be heading home on July 15th and the next awesome batch of 250 kids arriving on July 17th.
We want our campers to be surrounded by people who will, first off, keep them safe both physically and emotionally and secondly, who are excited to show them how much fun can be enjoyed in our community.
The better a community we create with one another as a team, the better an experience we can provide to our campers, their families back home, and our team at camp.
Sure, it’s fun and it’s usually the most challenging job anyone has ever had. The more we work together and support one another, the easier and more fulfilling it becomes.
The End Result
Remember when I said our staff arrive ready to do something different differently? Spending your summer caring for, teaching, and leading young people changes our team members. It requires selfless action and that’s not something that gets celebrated a lot any more. That’s why it’s different.
Camp impacts our staff just as much as our kids. It opens up their world, shows them the enormous influence they can provide, and reinforces the notion that happiness comes from serving others.
What does ‘differently’ mean? That’s the ‘why’ and the ‘how’ that we’ll teach you at Weequahic. We can’t wait to show you! Let me be the first to welcome our Summer Staff of 2017. Travel safely to camp and get ready for AMAZING!