Posts Tagged ‘kids summer camp’

Put on Your Swimsuits, Goggles, and Sunblock–It’s Time for a Swim!

Posted Sunday, March 27th, 2011 by

Almost every camper will name his or her waterfront area as one of the best parts of camp.  Many camps are built on lakes and their waterfronts play a crucial role during the summer, not only as a place for swimming but as a gathering place and the perfect backdrop for outdoor evening activities.  Learning to swim at summer camp is a rite of passage.  But learning to swim not only provides a great foundation for building camp memories of sunny days spent at the waterfront, it has lifelong benefits as well.  

Of course, there are the much acclaimed physical and mental benefits of learning to swim that we all know.  It’s a great low impact exercise that is suitable for almost everyone, which makes it an ideal part of a regular fitness regime.  It’s also not age restrictive.  Rather, it’s an activity that can be enjoyed for a lifetime.  The fact that muscle strength is also greatly improved as a result of pushing oneself through the water goes without saying.

Swimming also improves coordination, emotional well being, concentration, and social skills.   In fact, it’s the largely social aspect of camping that likely makes it such a positive and popular part of the camping experience.  The relaxing atmosphere of a pool or waterfront area provides the perfect setting for children to let down their guards and enjoy the type of casual conversation that builds and strengthens friendships.  When combined with the sheer fun of the activity, it’s the perfect setting for building memories.

Camp waterfront locations are extremely active and full of almost endless possibilities for campers experiences.  There are often several activities taking place at once, which is why camp Waterfront areas are typically generously staffed with well trained, fully certified lifeguards who complete an extensive and rigorous training program prior to the start of camp.

The pool area is not merely a place for swim instruction at summer camp but fun activities such as  synchronized swimming competitions in which campers have fun using creativity and teamwork to choreograph a musical number that combines dancing and swimming.  Pool parties are popular evening activities at camp, complete with music and plenty of opportunity to socialize.    

Even more adventure can be found on larger lake areas that, in addition to swimming beaches, also often have water toys, such as trampolines, rock-its, and climbing rocks for campers to enjoy.   Since these areas require campers to pass a swim test prior to being able to use them, they provide fun and attainable goals for campers: first, to pass the test that allows them to swim to these special areas, then the challenge of climbing the wall or walking the plank.  Camps also incorporate their waterfront areas into their special event planning.  Water games and pirate themed treasure hunts are just a couple of ways that water play is used creatively in camp programs.

Swimming at camp takes on a new level of excitement when included in camp activities–such as decathlons, apache relays, and Olympics or Color Wars–that give campers the opportunity to use their swimming skills to rise to a challenge.  Many camps also compete in swim meets through their inter camp leagues.   Whether racing against other campers or a time clock, being able to apply their swimming instruction in an engaging way and seeing firsthand how they’ve improved has been a moment of pride for many a camper.

So the next time your child regales you with tales of the waterfront at his or her summer camp, remember that it’s not just summer memories that they’re gaining from their swimming experiences, but lifelong skills.

Do You Know the History of Camping?

Posted Thursday, March 3rd, 2011 by

Do you know the history of camping? Most people don’t and it is too bad. It’s an interesting story and I’m happy to give you my take on it.

Back in the early 1900’s, several individuals and families, seeing the swelling slums in the northeastern cities, began to think of ways to get kids back to nature. Striking out from New York and Boston, these camp pioneers found pieces of land with lakes, trees, clean air, and a lot of space on which to build the first ‘residential camps’ in the US.

Mostly school teachers and coaches, these early camp leaders built relationships with families who chose to send their children to camp. The founding purpose of camp was to provide an environment of wholesome activity in which the values of independence, teamwork, gratitude, and community were transmitted, both overtly and subtly, to children.

Looking back at over 100 years of organized camping, I think these early professionals were on to something. Camping is nolonger just for children from the northeastern major metro areas, though they still make up a large proportion of campers. Camp has spread across the country and world and now is a big part of lots of peoples’ lives.

There are a lot of reasons why camping has thrived over the years. The main reasons, at least in my opinion, are the relationships built between campers and the staff at camp, being a part of something special, and the skills (physical, psychological, and emotional) that are developed. When you combine value-driven adults who are eager to lead with campers excited to learn, grow, and build new friendships, you’ve got an incredible start for creating a remarkable camp experience.

Can’t wait for camp!

Cole Kelly

Director, Camp Weequahic

Competition at Camp Weequahic

Posted Thursday, February 17th, 2011 by


You may have heard the Weequahic directors and year round staff were college athletes. It’s true. Well, Cole played golf at Virginia, so he was almost an athlete! Between the four of us, we’ve coached baseball, soccer, and golf at the NCAA Division 1 level for more than 20 years.

So, Weequahic must be a pretty competitive place, right?

Wrong.

Our focus is activity and skill development, rather than outcome. Competition is a wonderful tool for developing teamwork, community, and communication. It also helps determine areas for improvement. In essence, when done correctly, a little competition can really help a camper.

Weequahic is a part of the Wayne County Camp Association. Among its other duties, the WCCA organizes tournaments throughout the summer for our 31 associated camps in almost all of our activities. From swim and track meets to flag football, basketball, baseball, hockey, and lax games, we have just about anything a camper could want. We will even take campers to local USTA tennis tournaments so they can compete with kids from all over our region. While we have fun with a little competition, we are BIGGER believers in fun, skill development, and play.

If a camper wants to play on one of our teams, he or she simply needs to raise a hand and say ‘I want to be on the team.’ Once campers commit, they are good to go, regardless of their skill level. And, as long as they are supportive of their teammates and putting forth their best effort, they’ll play!

With one exception, we do not have tryouts at Weequahic. We require tryouts for tennis only because league rules restrict tennis rosters to eight players. If more than eight campers want to play, we hold a ladder tournament to determine the roster.

That said, sports competition is not for everyone. That is why we have incredible aquatics, adventure, and arts programs including things like Magic, Skate Park, Robotics, Radio, Music and more.

Not all of our camp competition, however, is relegated to WCCA events. What summer would be complete without a Color War type of competition?

Campers in our first session enjoy Tribals, a four team multi-day spirit competition. Vying for the “Deed of the Land”, campers play, sing, cheer, and laugh as they compete in spirit competitions in which everyone adds value to their Tribe. Campers in the second session enjoy Olympics, a five day competition between Army and Navy teams that dates back to our founding in 1953.

So, whether you are an athlete who wants to improve or an artist that is thrilled to explore the creative side of camp, Weequahic has something fun to offer. See you at camp!

Cole

Start Here: Find out More About Camp Now

Posted Monday, February 7th, 2011 by

If your child is dreaming about camp, it’s not too soon to make a choice for summer 2011! Many campers are counting the days until they can return, anticipating seeing friends and staff, and looking forward to another super summer. Others are wondering about camp for the first time. For everyone, there are a number of resources and ways to find out more about each camp.

Here are a few suggestions for choosing which camp is the best fit for your camper:

1. Talk to friends and family who have already been to camp. One camper recently chose Camp Weequahic to follow in the footsteps of a cousin and a friend. Since the seasoned campers had a wonderful time and could not stop talking about their adventure, the new camper decided to go and experience things for herself. Other first time campers go to camp with a special friend or cousin who is also a first-timer. Some campers follow in the footsteps of an older relative and start a new generation of alumni—so, make sure to ask for suggestions from family and friends who may have been campers!

2. Watch camp videos, attend an information night (or both), and it will be easy to visualize the fun ahead. It often helps to picture the experience and imagine a specific setting. Campers can watch a video more than once and report that the video often gets them “hooked”. They start to see themselves at camp. A home visit is also a great way to make personal contact with actual campers and staff.

3. Explore each camp website to find out what’s distinct about that camp, check faqs and read firsthand accounts. You’ll find links to social media conversations and get a feel for each unique location. The websites are also a good place to check out changes and additions from previous years—there’s a lot going on.

4. For questions about homesickness, safety, how to tell if your child is ready for camp or more, read previous blogs that are packed with information and answers. If you’re wondering, someone else is probably wondering too!

5. If you’re planning for Summer 2012, make arrangements to visit camp this year. You can tour Camp Weequahic during the summer. Throughout the summer, Camp Weequahic your child can also sample the Weequahic experience through the Camper for a Day and Camper for a Week programs. Camp Starlight offers tours, as well.

6. Always remember that there are no dumb questions. Make a list and don’t feel that you can’t ask. Now is the perfect time to communicate with camp staff before camp is in full swing and fun is in full gear!

A Camp Weequahic parent recently shared with us that after seeing camp pictures, she immediately felt jealous and wished she could go too. That summer, her daughter’s first letter from camp arrived asking if she could stay 6 weeks instead of the 3 she had signed up for! Those first instincts from looking at photos online and a little research had helped find a perfect fit. Moral of the story: You don’t have to go far to find out more about camp. Don’t be surprised if the process turns out to be a lot of fun—everything about camp has a way of being that!

Do you have a story to share about selecting a camp with a friend or relative? Who would you choose to take to camp?

Camp: Future, Past and Present

Posted Monday, January 24th, 2011 by

Whether your Holiday Season has ended or is about to begin, summer camp season isn’t far away! In fact, on December 8th 2010, next year’s campers wore their camp shirts in numerous cities to mark the 200 Day Countdown To Summer. If you’ve never gone to camp, it may be difficult to understand what drives this passion for camp all year—but campers know that camp is contagious, FUN, and essential! The camp experience helps children develop into well-rounded adults in enormous and complex ways, and that’s really important—but having FUN and intense youthful experiences is how it all happens. That’s the brilliant combination of camp. The experience includes serious AND hilarious moments—often simultaneously! The whole experience is much like the two sides of a single coin, or the double-faced image of Janus, the Roman god who can see into the past and future at the same time—and the origin of the name for the first month—January.

The serious side of camp includes feeling part of a unique community, identity development and participating through the years to make irreplaceable memories. If you don’t understand why camp is such an important American institution, in 1998 Ira Glass and the This American Life radio program attempted to investigate the topic—#109 Notes on Camp. The program addresses why people who love camp say that non-camp people simply don’t understand what’s so amazing about camp and attempts to bridge the gap of misunderstanding between camp people and non-camp people!

It also highlights how fun, tradition, stories, community and being human are all part of identity development at camp. With his signature quirky style, Ira assembled more “truth is stranger than fiction tales,” where real campers tell stories of camp in days gone by and explain why the camp experience is so special. Hundreds of campers responded to his call for stories and the program shares a selection, so if you’re interested in history and interpreting American culture, you’ll find the reminiscences fascinating. Just remember that all camp experiences are not like the stories told—the point of the program is to illustrate the intensity of the experience! It ends with campers talking about becoming camp alumni and how their camp experiences won’t ever be forgotten.

As we all know, time passes and our camp years are limited by the fact that we’re only children once. It’s easy to feel briefly melancholy at year’s end as time waits for no one, but of course, December also means that the promise of a new year is around the corner! In January, we’d like to continue looking backwards and forwards while thinking about camp and we’d especially love to hear from camp alumni. What’s the funniest thing that happened to you at camp? How did camp contribute to your adult life? We’d like to hear about the memories you hold dear and close to your heart, or what you wish for campers next year? If you’re counting the days until camp starts, what are YOU planning?

For now, “Happy New Year” to everyone and let the countdown to Camp 2011 begin!

Deb

Thanks for the images quinn.anya and megawheel360.

Letter from Camp

Posted Friday, January 7th, 2011 by

Dear Mommy and Daddy,

Have you ever dreamed of adventure?! Have you ever wondered what life would be like in the Poconos? Have you ever wanted to do awesome sports, eat great food and live in fantastic cabins (great for relaxing)? The best place to be is Camp Weequahic!

Did you know Camp Weequahic offers more than 10 sports? Wow!!!! I can do a lot of water sports like swimming, tubing, wakeboarding, fishing, and waterskiing. I can also hike, do archery, gaga, soccer, gymnastics, roller hockey, track, football, and more. Camp Weequahic is the perfect place to learn and find a new favorite sport! But if I do so many activities I’ll need a good meal.

Weequahic is a marvelous place to find delicious foods! I can dig my fork in a plate full of salad. Or maybe twist my fork in a plate of spaghetti. Or maybe try a soft warm pizza. And for dessert: chocolate chip cookies, cookies, brownies, and more. And on my birthday, I get a big homemade cake to share with your cabin mates. After a long day, I’ll probably want to head down to my comfy cabin for some well-deserved rest.

Comfy cabins with roomy beds and a beautiful bathroom, Weequahic has it all! I can share a room with all my friends my age and have a fantastic game of cards. My roomy beds are comfy and just like at home, not stiff or too mushy but just right for me! At evening time I can plop down in my bed then take a breather for the night.

Weequahic is the best summer camp I know! From sports to food to cabins with my friends! It’s a fantastic place to spend the summer break! “Please Mommy and Daddy let me go the best place that I know!”

Love,

Your Favorite Loving Daughter Shani (YFLDS)

The Heart of Camp/Caring for Kids: Staff and Counselors

Posted Tuesday, December 14th, 2010 by

Thanks for the image JacobEnos.In an earlier post, we discussed one of the primary concerns parents have about summer camp – will my child be safe? This week, we wanted to talk about the people who care for our kids at camp and keep them safe; how they are chosen and trained to do their jobs. When you’re putting the care of your children into other people’s hands, it’s important to have confidence in their caretakers. At Weequahic, not only does every person who works at camp have to love working with kids, they all also have to be good at it and have the skills to be a success.

Building a good staff begins with selecting the right personnel. We focus year round on finding, recruiting, and selecting the best qualified counselors to live and work with the children. Most of our head counselors, group leaders, campus leaders and department heads have been with their camps at least five years, and some have returned every summer for 20 years! All are professionally-trained educators and coaches who have proven their ability to instruct a particular activity. The counselors, who have the most direct contact with your camper, have all completed at least their first year of college (with many further on), and go through a rigorous interview and selection process, and reference and background checks. We recruit counselors from over 100 different colleges around the country and many fine universities throughout the world. Just over half of the counselors return from year to year, with many only ending their counseling careers when they graduate college and move on to real-world schedules (no more free summers!)

Of course, selecting the right people is only the beginning of the process of creating a successful staff. The counselors must also be trained and oriented to the camp’s particular processes, schedules and procedures. To do so, all staff must complete a week-long Orientation. We are especially lucky to have large groups of former campers who return to be counselors. They know the camp traditions and songs, and, more importantly, they remember what camp looks like from the point of view of the campers. At Orientation, they can share their experiences with new staff members and serve as ambassadors for our particular mission and traditions.

The seven-day day Orientation is filled with training in individual responsibilities, working with the campers, and of course, health, safety, and emergency procedures. Such intensive training ensures that counselors aren’t just up to speed with the programs but also child development and the best techniques for working with kids in the cabins. We bring in outside speakers to provide info on contemporary issues for schools and homes as well as advanced skills for working with other people’s children and those responsibilities.We also meet with counselors and go over each individual child’s information and specific issues that might arise over the course of the summer. By the time the campers arrive, the counselors have a great understanding of every child in their care, gleaned from information from the director’s meetings with parents, the camper’s profile information forms, and past years’ knowledge of returning campers. Even the group and campus leaders know the children well, since they are mostly veterans who watch the children grow over time. Orientation is fun, and the trainers work hard to create a feeling of unity and team amongst the staff.

Beyond the formal week long Orientation, over half of the individual activity instructors (waterfront, rock climbing, mountain biking, etc.) come to camp early, with key staff and counselors often training three weeks prior to Orientation. Counselors who are responsible for specific program areas are also trained to write lesson plans and taught how to execute a fun and instructional activity period. Each attends an entire training day devoted to teaching kids their particular activities and making it fun. Finally, every camp staff member is well-trained in general safety procedures and first aid, with additional courses and certifications dependent on counselor responsibilities.

All this training and teamwork that begins in Orientation quickly spills over into a great summer for the kids. But the seven days of Orientation before camp starts is just the beginning. Camp staff attend weekly meetings and trainings, and everyone receives ongoing support from their supervisors on a daily basis. Without a well-trained staff, no camp can have a successful season. The right people – people who love children and are good at working with them – create the foundation for a terrific summer of experiences and memories for the most important people on campus, your children.

Susan

Thanks for the image JacobEnos.