Tag: lessons from summer camp

Keeping Kids Safe at Camp: What Every Parent Needs to Ask/Know

Even when you are right there next to your child to offer comfort, care and treatment, accidents and injuries can be difficult to deal with. So as we prepare our kids to go to summer camp, it is important to ask some questions of the camp and prepare our children well. That way, everyone can rest assured they are having a summer of fun and making memories to last a lifetime in a safe environment.

We’ve discussed many issues parents need to consider when choosing a camp, enrolling their child and sending them on their way on this blog. As parents are making decisions on sending their children to camp next year, here is a list of things to ensure are in place as you get your family ready for a summer away:

  • Camp is accredited by the American Camp Association. This requires camps to follow certain guidelines, including counselor to child ratios and other safety procedures.
  • Camp requires staff safety training.
  • Camp has emergency contact information for your child.
  • Camp has been notified of any medical conditions and/or allergies your child has. Be sure to be specific when you communicate with the staff. Let the camp know the specific name of the condition as well as warning signs and steps to take to help your child. Click here for an ACA article on administering medications at camp.
  • Camp has provided written health protocols and policies.

Beyond physical safety concerns, ask how the camp deals with homesickness. We’ve talked about that topic on this blog as well and will also be discussing staying connected in an upcoming post.

Just as the camp can have multiple safety policies and procedures for kids, it is also important for our young ones to learn how to stay safe independently. So take the time (repeatedly) to ensure that you and your child

  • Know what’s safe and what isn’t. Review the camp’s handbooks for rules of conduct for campers. Review these with your child before he or she leaves for camp.
  • Understand which kinds of behavior are acceptable and which aren’t. Breaking the rules can put others in dangerous situations.
  • Have good hygiene practices. Cover sneezes and coughs with their elbows (not their hands) and wash hands frequently.
  • Know when to notify a staff member and ask for help. Not every bump and bruise requires medical attention – make sure you and your child knows which is which. Camp Weequahic has a health center with nurses present and a doctor that is on campus or visits daily.

These are all fairly simple ideas to keep families safe and camp is no different. If, as parents, we do our research, read the parent handbooks and camper manuals, ask all the right questions and talk with our children, everyone spends the summer relaxing, being cared for and as safe as possible. For more information, visit the ACA website and read more about this and other camp topics on their parent pages.

Thanks to [email protected] and cjc4544 for the photos!

Susan

A Whale of a Lesson

Have you ever heard of Humphrey the Humpback Whale? Before our campers (and many of our staff) were born, Humphrey’s odyssey held our nation’s attention for many, many days.

Humphrey, as his name suggests, is a humpback whale. Getting turned around one day chasing plankton or following a misguided hunch, Humphrey found himself in San Francisco Bay. A few days later, he was in the Sacramento River. If you are trying to get to Sacramento, it’s a great plan. Just not it if you are whale.

Rescuers and researchers tried everything they could think of to stop Humphrey’s progress up the river. He escaped traps, ignored the pleading, and continued his meander up river all the while showing signs of physical distress and confusion. Thankfully, one researcher had a great idea.

With the help of the US Navy and a local boat owner, Dr. Bernie Krause started sending out whale calls through the water. (If you’ve not heard them, they are really interesting!) Within no time at all, Humphrey appeared. The astounded rescuers had called to Humphrey and he came to them!

Taking the boat with its whale calls down river, Dr. Krause and his team led Humphrey out to the San Francisco Bay and then to the Pacific. It was a great rescue that captivated the nation that actually advanced science. We found out it takes a whale to speak to another whale.

That’s a lesson camp teaches every day. In this age of video games and iPhones, PSP’s and tweets, we mustn’t forget one of our most basic requirements: It takes people to speak to other people.

Great camps surround children with great mentors and develop a community in which everyone is valued and cared for. At Weequahic, finding and training the best staff possible is, along with safety, our most important priority. The more interested, exciting, patient, and prepared a staff, the more likely it is for our campers to have an extraordinary experience. This, I might add, also provides the staff with an incredible experience as well!

If you know of someone interested in joining a community of people who want to provide an extraordinary experience for campers, please ask them to apply here. We’d be thrilled to speak with them!

Hat tip to Chuck Hodges (and Humphrey) for the story.

Cole Kelly, Camp Director

Growing Up Global

As parents, we often hear predictions about the necessity for our children to prepare for a new and “global” world. While some people explain that the roots for global interactions were planted centuries ago, current electronic and transportation technologies make people across the globe even more connected and interdependent. So how can we prepare our children and give them experiences to help them become globally literate?

Of course, travel is an obvious way to help children increase their cultural currency, but going to camp also helps foster global thinking and skills in specific ways. Summer camp is a place where children from around the world and different parts of the United States connect with each other, build lifelong friendships, try new things and practice living together. At Camp Weequahic for example, campers have recently travelled from France, Spain, Switzerland and Venezuela to join in the fun. On average, about 5% of campers come from outside the United States but wherever your child departs from, they can benefit from the diverse mix of kids at camp. They can practice a language and will definitely learn about different customs with daily interaction and time to soak it all in. Most importantly, they will learn how to respectfully engage with people with different views, who may not approach everything the same way.

In her book, Growing Up Global:Raising Children to Be At Home in the World, Homa Sabet Tavangar says that the first step towards developing a global outlook requires “embracing the mind-set to make a friend and be a good friend.” Making friends means practicing universal qualities like empathy and respect, and building lasting friendships at camp is a huge part of the total experience. Counselors and staff are trained and at the ready to help campers grow in this area, build new skills when necessary and model caring for others. Tavangar explains that versions of the Golden Rule, or “treat others as you wish to be treated,” permeate all cultures and faith traditions and elaborates on these in her book. When children embrace the universal values of caring for each other, they employ humility, curiosity and compassion which then leads to making true friends—and that’s what makes a world citizen.

So, wherever we go in the world, it’s the experience of breaking down the elements of diverse cultures and seeing what makes them similar or distinct, that prepares us for relating to each other. For kids, a baby step towards negotiating new cultures can be overcoming the fear of new foods or being away from home at camp where things are “different”—after all, every camp, and each year, has it’s own special character or culture. For example, many campers bond over the issue of learning to like new foods and it’s that kind of experience that prepares children for the future.

Growing up global is not just about preparing to do business in the world economy. It’s about having the comfort and desire to connect with the Kenyan dad who coaches a local soccer team, a Turkish neighbor with distinct fashion style or an American who expects consistent electrical power! Ultimately it’s about being curious about differences instead of afraid of them and valuing making friends with the diverse people we meet. Psychologists link friendship to an individual’s health and ultimately to the ability to survive—so friendships are key to feeling at home in our individual skins as well as feeling at home on our planet.

Our experiences at summer camp are a key component in raising globally aware and confident children. The friendships and lessons learned at camp will last long after camping season ends as campers continue to expand their horizons, stay connected with friends across time and geography and find their life’s passions. How do you plan to raise global kids and make camp a part of their preparation? Have you read Growing Up Global or used any of Tavangar’s suggestions? We’d love to hear how camp contributed to defining your world view!

Deborah-Eve

Thanks for the images Horia Varlan and woodleywonderworks.