Tag: summer camp

Our neighborhood

Our Neighborhood

On my way home last week, I watched Midway, a movie about a major World War II battle in the Pacific.  Throughout, the director showed both sides – the  US and Japanese –  in an honorable way. In fact, the director and producers dedicated the film to the sailors from both sides at the end of the movie.

The film reminded me of the many wars fought throughout time on this small planet. They were waged for different reasons: power, resources, influence, retribution, etc. The one common factor: one set of humans and their tools against another set of humans and their corresponding tools.

We humans are now locked in another battle. This one, though, is different. Rather than it being against each other, it’s all of us against something that doesn’t care where we are from, what we look like, what car we drive, etc. COVID-19 can affect us all.

Being Neighborly

A teacher once taught a lesson about loving our neighbors. He did so in dramatic fashion, making a member of a despised culture the ‘hero.’

Here’s the short version: A man had been beaten up, robbed and left for dead. Many people who were well thought of in ‘their neighborhood’ walked by, excusing their lack of lending assistance for multiple reasons. Then a member of a despised culture stopped, showed mercy, humility, and love by helping the man and setting him up to be healed with no thought of repayment.

The punchline: the person from a despised ‘neighborhood’ had been the true neighbor. He’d loved the injured as he did himself regardless of anything else – race, creed, color or religion.

Our Neighborhood

How big is your neighborhood? At camp, we’ve got a fun bunch of us. But if we compare our camp with all the camps in the US, it’s a very, very small neighborhood. 

Our Earth is pretty big, right? It’s measured at 24,901 miles around the equator. However, when you compare the Earth to our solar system, it’s pretty small. Compare it to our larger galaxy, it’s smaller still.

For comparison sake, it would take you about 45 hours to circumnavigate the Earth on a plane. To get to Pluto and back, it would take 25 years and a really big rocket ship. To edge of our galaxy and back? That’s currently estimated at 220 million years.  

So, when you compare it to the larger context, our Earth – our neighborhood – is pretty small. Mr. Fred Rogers touched on this a lot over his many decades of service. He didn’t care what you looked like, where you were from, or what was in your bank account. You were his neighbor and he treated you with kindness, patience, respect, and love. Period.

In other words, we are all neighbors. And, until we find life off world, we are the only neighbors we’ve got.

Our Current Battle

In case you haven’t noticed, there is a virus in the neighborhood. We’ve got to work together to stamp it out.

A powerful politician once admonished his ‘troops’ not to let a crisis go to waste. Whether you agreed or not with his politics or timing is irrelevant. This is one such crisis but not in the terms he meant.

This is not an opportunity to place blame. It’s an opportunity to realize that all of us in this tiny little neighborhood are in a fight against something that threatens us all. The good news? There are very simple and powerful ways to defeat it.

First, remain calm and patient. We humans have gotten through much worse. Secondly, wash your hands really well. If you aren’t sure how, here you go. The third is stay away from other people as much as you can for the time being, especially if you feel crummy.

Campers, we are most worried about those with challenged immune systems and the elderly. It would be neighborly of us to do our best to reduce the spread of this disease any way we can. (Here’s a great infographic that explains things well to young and old people alike.)

Weequahic Neighbors

So, while this time is certainly strange for us, it’s also an opportunity to remember that we humans, despite our differences, are all neighbors. Let’s decide to be good ones for each other.

Heck, if enough of us work at this long enough, maybe everyone will start acting the same way. When that happens, our Earth will feel a little bit more like a summer at Weequahic. Talk with you next week.

Something Old, Something New

I recently enjoyed looking over a map displaying the oldest, continuously operating business in each country. As someone with Irish roots, I’m happy to report ‘Sean’s Bar’ has been pulling pints since 900 AD – the third oldest business in the world! I’ve not visited it yet but I plan to the next time I’m on the Emerald Isle.

The map reminded me of a dinner I enjoyed with my younger brother many moons ago. He was spending a year abroad, studying Italian in Sienna, Italy.

I have three distinct memories of my first day with him: the ribollita at a small café outside Il Palio, the after affects of my first (and last) espresso and eating dinner in his apartment… which was older than the United States of America!

Camp – Past and Present

When you put into that context, Camp Weequahic is not old. Founded in 1953 by Mr. and Mrs. Al Lustig, Weequahic grew steadily over the ensuing decades. The camp weathered many financial storms over that time with rising interest rates, an epic flood or two and many other challenges.

Not many communities or businesses have lasted as long as Camp Weequahic. Kate and I are proud to be holding up the torch that was so ably started by the Lustig and Seffer families as we move Weequahic into the future.

There is a lot that is new at our old camp: a new website with a fancy virtual tour, new videos, and more bells and whistles. We’ve got a new waterpark being installed soon. The Health Center has a new exam room and medical storage facility. The oldest boys (finally!) have a new bathroom.

And yet, with all the new, it doesn’t change the majesty and importance of the old. The Tribal and Olympic competitions end the sessions. Campfire is enjoyed every Friday night. Our counselors and staff do all they can to care for our campers… who come to have a blast.

These traditions were started long before Kate and I arrived and will continue (we hope) long after we’ve retired. There is usefulness in good traditions, those that bind us together in positive ways and create a feeling of being a part of something larger than yourself. And, there are some traditions that have outlived their usefulness. (Campfire behind gymnastics, anyone?) As many have said before me, without change, there is no growth. 

So, yes, there is some old and some new at camp, just as there is in your life. We are excited to keep that balance rolling on through at Weequahic. 

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.