Tag: lessons learned at summer camp

Gratitude, Attitude and Courage: The Weequahic Way

Every family wants their camper to have an incredible time at camp. Building relationships with campers and staff members from all over the US and world, enjoying activities they only get to try at camp, and being a part of the camp spirit and traditions certainly allow for fun.   We want more for your child, though, than just a good time. We want to make a difference in their lives. And that is where our values of Gratitude, Attitude and Courage come in.

Gratitude: ‘A gracious heart is a happy heart.’ We have heard this from a number of philosophers and teachers through the years and know it to be true. Therefore, we spend a few moments each evening thinking about our day and expressing at least two moments that made us happy.  That expression of gratitude encourages us to be more thoughtful about ourselves and others and requires us to take a moment to be thankful each day.

Attitude: The only aspect of our lives over which we have complete control is how we react. Attitude, therefore, is a chosen outlook on life and we remind our campers of this fact often. Choosing the type of attitude you want to present to the world, and yourself, is one of the most important realizations our young people can come to at camp.  We develop this habit through the modeling of our counselors, gentle reminders throughout the day, and creating a community of fun for all.

Courage: We don’t talk about the courage needed to save someone from a burning building. Rather, we focus on the courage it takes to complete the small, every day actions required to be a good person. Standing up for yourself or another, trying something new, being polite when it’s hard to do so – these are the small courageous actions of good people.

Coupled with the independence gained by living away from their parents in an incredibly fun and intentional community, our campers leave Weequahic with a deeper appreciation of Gratitude, Attitude, and Courage. It is our hope this will only aid them in their paths to being people of good character, which benefits not only themselves but everyone who comes into contact with the Weequahic Way.

Three Steps to Joy

As school lets out and families spend time together at the end of each year, we spend a lot of time wishing ‘Joy’ to one another.

It is a joyful occasion, is it not? Parents who work hard throughout the year take a few moments to relax and connect with their children. Kids are thrilled to be out of school for a few weeks and look forward to the celebration of their family’s holiday.  The tv is full of messages of good tidings and cheerful holiday music plays through most speakers.

All of these joyful tidings made me remember what a mentor once said about true joy. He told me about three major points concerning true joy that I’d like to share with you.

First, if you want to be joyful, surround yourself with joyful people.

That is one of reasons I love camp so much. At Weequahic, one of the defining themes of our staff interviews and training rests on joy – how much counselors have and how willing they  are to express it. The best staff members may not be the most talented singers, hockey teachers, or bunk cleaners. They are, however, always the most joyful.

So, how do you handle those ‘joy suckers’ around you? My friend suggested to be kind to them but just don’t hang out with them. Makes sense to me!

Secondly, true joy comes from devoting your life to something larger than your own personal happiness.

Tony and I were just talking the other day about our most memorable coaching experiences. Both involved helping a young person achieve a level of athletic competence they didn’t think possible. The look on their faces when they did something they never thought they could do was priceless. There was complete joy in their faces and manner. That was the best reward we could have received!

Our bunk counselors and campers see this every day at Weequahic. Bunks that truly come  together becomes an ‘us’ rather than a collection of ‘me’s.’ And that is when the magic really starts to happen.

By the way, did you know that those who devote themselves to their own personal happiness never truly find it? It will always remain out of reach.

Finally, he told me that joy will always be in spite of something else.

I love this point. Camp, as much as we would like to make it so, is never perfect. There will always be a few bugs, a meal that is not as good as mom’s, or an evening activity that is just not your favorite. However, if you are waiting for the conditions to change in your life for joy to arrive, you’ll wait a mighty long time.

Karl Barth said “Joy is a defiant ‘never the less!’ It’s not contingent on circumstances. If it is, we are all in trouble.”

Sure, we can be upset by something. However, this moment of sorrow should be temporary and our primary attitude should be that of gratitude and joy.

So, this holiday season, I wish you the happiness which comes from joyful friends and families, being a part of something larger than yourself, and the recognition that, despite the bumps in life, joy is an attitude you can choose to adopt daily.

Happy holidays, all!

Cole Kelly


Camp Tools for School

Well campers, it’s time for school. I know you’d rather be at camp – so would I! However, it’s time to leave your camp gear at home and head off to the classroom. Butjust because you are going to school doesn’t mean you’ll leave everything behind. Here are a few suggestions of tools you learned at camp that you should take to school every day.

Confidence! You just spent a lot of time away from home this summer. You made friends with campers and staff from around the country and world. You helped mold your own daily schedule into something you’d love. You swam in a lake, tackled a climbing tower, got up on stage, created pieces of art, and laughed until your belly hurt. Weequahic showed you that you have what it takes to be a success and revealed the path forward. This confidence will be huge in your day to day at school. Use it!

Community! When you look back on your time at Weequahic, I bet you’ll think mostly of what went on in the bunk. You, your bunk mates, and your counselors spent a whole lot of time building a fun, caring, and welcoming community. It took patience and commitment. Watching everyone hug (and even shed a tear) on the last day of camp, I know it was worth it. So, think of what you’ve experienced in building a bunk community and take it to your classroom. You can help be a leader in building a great community at school.

Character! At Weequahic, we stressed to you that it’s your daily actions that matter. The big and little things you do everyday show who you are. While others may listen to your words, you’ve learned that they’ll imitate your actions. So choose your actions wisely! Remember: little by little, character is built every day. Take what you’ve learned at camp and show everyone in your classroom and school what a person with great character can do.

You learned so much this summer – how to water ski, climb, create a radio broadcast, project your voice, cook, etc. More importantly, you gained independence, built character, created a community, and increased your confidence. These aspects of learning at camp will help you every day at school and beyond.

Rest assured that while you are in the classroom improving your knowledge of math, writing, history, science, and more, we’ll be hard at work preparing camp for another fantastic summer of laughter and learning. Have a great year at school. Study hard, do good, and stay excited for camp!

Cole Kelly