Tag: summer camps

What’s happening at camp right now?

How would you describe the essential elements of a summer camp? Do the adventures of spending days with peers, learning new skills, trying new activities, bonfires and skits, great counselors— all the fun of the whole experience— first come to mind? These are definitely important elements of summer camp from a camper’s perspective, but there are a lot of other elements that have to be in place for a camp to be successful year after year. Have you ever wondered what it takes to set the scene and develop communities where good times can take place? I have.

The camp experience is part of the heritage and culture of the United States, and for generations, American families have sent their children to camp—about 10 million children last year alone! As you can guess, each camp has it’s own story and distinct cultural and physical environment, so each camp experience is unique.

The ACA is the professional organization tThe American Camp Association (ACA) is the professional organization that educates camp owners and directors in the administration of key aspects of camp operation, program quality, and the health and safety of campers and staff. The ACA also establishes guidelines for policies, procedures, and practices when running a camp. Of course, Camp Weequahic is a fully accredited member of the ACA. Each year, camp professionals gather for a national conference to discuss their work. Last year’s conference title alone, 20/20 Toolbox: Tomorrow’s Camps, Today’s Realities illustrates how camps are focused on creating the very best experiences for today and also into the future.

The staff at Camp Weequahic works all year to make sure that facilities are maintained and prepared for when camp is in session. There are so many details to take care of— from making sure that buildings are cared for, to improving camp facilities, adding or updating equipment and ensuring that health and safety codes are met. Camp owners and managers also have to keep up with changing demographics and expectations from their clientele. So long before campers arrive, camp staff are learning about new practices, meeting up to date regulations, putting current ideas into practice and working towards providing the best of the best. There are activities and events to plan, qualified counselors to recruit, ideas for even more fun than last year to implement and new campers to meet around the country. As camper’s needs and tastes change over the years, camp staff are dedicated to making each year as special as the last–and while traditions are an important part of camp life there is lots of room for fresh programs too.

At Camp Weequahic, we have instituted a Total Choice Program, allowing our campers to develop their own individual summer experiences. Our motto: Your Summer. Your Choice! Each Weequahic day will provide a balance of program periods where campers have the opportunity to explore their own interests through daily choices. This exciting approach to daily programming will make it more interesting for our campers and allow for even better skill instruction led by top NCAA former athletes and current coaches. In addition to the exciting program changes, we have renovated our bunks with new bathrooms and new beds and cubbies. Our facility has also been expanded with the addition of a new Skate Park. It’s out-of-sight!!

Deborah-Eve

Thank you for the images Horia Varlan and Photocapy.

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.

Camp Weequahic — The Three-Week Camp with the Full Season Experience

“The greatest asset of Camp Weequahic is that we have put together a full traditional camp experience and power packed it into three-weeks,” says Cole Kelly, Camp Weequahic’s co-director. The camp runs two three-week sessions (June 26-July 17 and July 21-August 11 in 2010) and you’ll be amazed at what they manage to to squeeze into a mere 21 days. Campers get to experience two-day specialty camps with guest instructors; participate in county tournaments in eight different sports; go on off-campus trips; and take part in special events (backwards day!) and evening activities. Families also have the option of sending their kids to both sessions for a total of six weeks of camp. To make the super-six option completely stress free, there are activities at camp for those staying over the break. “It’s an amazing summer, whichever option families choose,” says Kelly.

Location, Location, Location

Camp Weequahic is nestled on 100 acres in picturesque Lakewood, Pennsylvania, which is located just 2-1/2 hours from New York City. “Our central location allows us to be the gateway to children who want to come from around the country and around the world for a great camp experience,” says Kelly. Children fly into JFK from all points foreign and domestic and are met at the jetway by camp staff and escorted to air-conditioned motorcoaches for the ride to Lakewood.

History and Tradition

While campers have access to the best of the best in today’s camping world (more on that later), the camp staff and campers never lose sight of the long, storied tradition of the camp, which goes back more than five decades. The camp was established in 1953 and it’s recreation hall walls are covered with plaques from the past 50 years of camp olympics. The camp motto, “Where Caring is a Tradition,” is still the guiding principle of all things Weequahic. Nothing takes a back seat to creating a supportive and caring community for campers, Kelly says.

Choice

Ideally, summer camp is a place where there is always something new and different and something special for everyone. At Camp Weequahic, choice rules. “We have 50 different activities for campers to experience, and everyone is encouraged to try new things and improve their skills at old favorites,” says Kelly. Whether your child wants to move up to the next level in tennis, master the newest sweet water skiing trick, or cook a gourmet meal, Camp Weequahic provides top-notch professional instruction in all their core areas. There are six activity periods throughout the day and every camper gets to pick their activities for at least two of those periods. (As the campers get older, their number of choice periods increase.) Weequahic also features cutting edge facilities, including a brand new roller hockey rink, gymnastics center and outdoor adventure course with climbing walls and a zip line. (Makes you want to enroll yourself, doesn’t it?)

Unfortunately, we moms (and dads) can’t enroll ourselves for all the fun Camp Weequahic has to offer. But if you’re interested in finding out more, you can take a virtual tour on the camp’s website by clicking here, and you can get in touch with camp staff, including Cole Kelly and his wife Kate, who serves as co-director, by sending an e-mail to info@weequahic.com.

All photos courtesy Camp Weequahic

Susan