Camp Friendship, Where Have You Been?

It seems I’ve been slacking. We have been back from our Tri-State Conference for a week and I’m just now sitting down to tell you how it went. Sam our Assistant Director, Sherri our Registrar, and myself the Marketing Director headed out to Atlantic City for the annual Tri-State ACA Conference. Let me simply say we had a great time. We met with some old friends, made some new friends and attended some great sessions. Great speakers such as Dr. Wendy Mogul author of “The Blessing of a Skinned Knee” and Erin Gruwell educator and author of “The Freedom Writers Diary” took some time to speak to us during the four day event. It really was an inspiring event but this is not the part that’s important to our camp families the important part is that we learned a ton and we are back with a million new ideas to make camp even better.
program/activity ideas to incorporate with some old favorites this summer. If I know   Sam she’s been planning some new and fun activities since the end of last summer but now she’s really ready for anything.

Did I mention we saw GIANT snow flakes in Atlantic City!?

 

 

 

 

 

 

This summer will be the first summer we require our new staff to start their training prior to their early arrival at camp. This is something we are very happy and proud of doing this year. Our staff members will be working on a series of tests to prepare them for what to expect and what we expect from a camp counselor. This is all on top of the on camp training they will receive prior to their arrival at camp. While this little project has been in the works prior to our visit to the conference this is something that was reinforced by other camps. We all expect great things from our staff members, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Our Registrar has been looking into way to streamline our registration and online registration process and we are certainly making some headway in that area. We hope to have some news before registration opens for our 2010 summer.

Well in the spirit of keeping short and to the point let me close by saying that we are very excited for the upcoming summer. We have a large amount of high quality returning staff and we are all ready to make this one of our best summers ever.

Cris

The Power of the Experience

Chuck and I just returned from ACA National Conference. ACA stands for American Camp Association. Each year hundreds of camp professionals, educators, child psychologists and business partners gather together to share knowledge about issues related to camps and youth development. This year the conference took place in Orlando, Florida. The theme of the conference was “The Power of the Experience”. The speakers included Ned Hallowell, M.D., Psychiatrist and author of 14 books, Peg Smith, CEO of American Camp Association, Pat Williams, Senior Vice President of the Orlando Magic NBA Team and many others.

At the conference I was reminded once again that the experience our children can have at camp is indeed very powerful.

I personally worked with children for almost 20 years. I’ve been teaching in different settings, such as schools, athletic clubs, afterschool programs, camps. In my opinion the most impact we can make on children today is by having them attend camp, which is without a doubt the most natural environment a child could experience, free of stress, pressure, and overwhelming technology.

Just consider the following things:

-Did you get to perform on the stage and receive an overwhelming cheer and applause from 300 people when you were 7 years old?

-Do you remember feeling a great sense of accomplishment for mastering a real skill in just a one week period? If you attended a camp you would remember making bowls from raw clay on a pottery wheel, then glazing and firing it and having a complete art project in just one week? Now, what about mastering canoeing, learning to fish or picking up on new tricks from your basketball instructor.

-Can you remember a time when on the same day you could meet people from 5 different countries and learn that they are different but they are so cool that you definitely want to be their friend and maybe even become a life-long friend with someone from France, Russia, Japan or Mexico?

-Do you remember a time when you felt shy or scared or homesick but you had kids just like you and friendly counselors to help you overcome those feeling and become a more confident person. They are the ones who helped you climb a 30 feet wall or make it through another day at camp without missing your home or included you in a game or a project when you were too shy to ask.

CAMP is a POWERFUL EXPERIENCE! I can relate to this on a personal level too. My daughter Nika was five last summer when she spent a few weeks at camp. In the fall she started Kindergarten and I was very pleased to have her come home on the first day and tell me how much she enjoyed her first day at school. She told me about new friends she made and the teacher she liked so much and the activities she did. Then I asked her: you didn’t feel homesick or scared or shy on your fist day? Then she said: Mom, why would I? I just spent my summer at camp.

When I talk to other parents who think about sending their kids to camp I hear the comments about the cost and the state of the economy and the expenses it would involve… then I think to myself that the value of camp can’t be measured by the dollar, it is an important investment into your child’s all- around development as a successful and confident person. So I encourage you to BELIEVE in the POWER of CAMP!

 

 

 

Preparing for Camp, Part 1

For many children, attending some type of camp every summer is as natural as going to the pool or eating an ice cream on a hot day. Camp offers kids a lot of opportunities for growth. Socially, they learn how to work as part of a group, communal living skills (at resident/overnight camps), how to make new friends, conflict resolution, and many other invaluable skills. Personally, there’s a unique element of “structured independence”, where they can feel free to make certain decisions and choices, in a safe and supportive environment, allowing for personal growth. The benefits of camp are many, and we hope that you are considering sending your child to summer camp this year if you haven’t already.

For the first-timers, parents of those children and teens who are going to have their first away from home experience this summer (or even the first time at a new camp), there are some things that you can do prior to packing up the car and heading to camp that will help guarantee a smooth, rewarding experience for both you and your camper.

First, from the very beginning, involve your children and teens as much as possible in the process. They should be an integral part of the decision to go to camp in the first place. Every child develops at a different rate– some will be ready to head off to camp almost as soon as they’ve mastered the art of walking, and others will be reluctant to leave home until their teenage years. Forcing a child to attend a sleep-away camp who is just not ready yet might lead to an unpleasant first experience that they will be reluctant to repeat. If your child is anxious about being away from you, perhaps start small, with overnight stays with friends, day camps with a one-night stay-over, or half-week overnight camps with a buddy or two.

Once you have made the decision and the commitment to attend an overnight camp, don’t stop talking with your child about the camp they will be attending. Talk positively about all of the fun things that they will be doing. If you went to camp as a child, speak to them about all the wonderful experiences that you had while attending camp, and all the friends you made. It’s important when you’re discussing camp to be realistic as well…camp isn’t a theme park, and if they haven’t spent much time outdoors, a traditional overnight camp will be an adjustment on that front as well. Encourage them to ask any questions that they might have, and often a pre-summer visit to tour the camp is a good idea. As the time to depart for camp draws near, involve your campers-to-be in the aspects of preparation for camp; going with you to purchase supplies such as sunscreen and bug spray, making a packing list, and then packing together. In the meantime, as camp nears it may be that you are having more anxiety yourself than your camper is, and that is very common. We often find just as much if not more “campsickness” from our parents than homesickness from our campers.

It’s very important to not let any anxiety you may have pass to your camper prior to attending camp. Remind yourself that you have chosen a quality camp with a good reputation, caring and supportive staff, and that camp is an invaluable learning experience that your child deserves to take part in. Avoid saying things before camp such as “if you aren’t having a good time, we will come and get you,” as this will allow your child to feel as though they don’t have to actually try to adjust to the camp experience. Also, saying things that indicate that parents, siblings, or pets will have a hard time adjusting to your camper being away from home may lead to your child feeling guilty for being away, which certainly won’t allow them to become fully involved while at camp.

While the first significant amount of time away from home and away from loved ones can sometimes be challenging for children, it is an important step in their growth and development, and can and should be very positive. If you prepare both yourself and your camper for their first camp experience, you are both much more likely to have a smooth adjustment, and your camper is likely to have a wonderful and unforgettable time away from home…one that they will hopefully want to repeat again every summer!

*Original Article found on our Winter 2009 Newsletter, written by Sarah Holder.