Advance Your Game!

Iboy playing tennisn our last blog “They just keep going and going,” we talked shop about the variety of sports activities and clinics Camp Friendship offers. Today, let’s talk tennis. We offer a fantastic tennis program instructed by Alina Ackenbom. Alina

has not only been our tennis director for 17 years, but she has proven her talent for instruction by creating a clinic that improves tennis strategies, while allowing members to have a blast playing together. These members may not know it, but they are developing good fitness habits and gaining health benefits as well.

So you may ask yourself, what are some other benefits tennis clinic can provide for my child, other than allowing them to have an enjoyable experience and making friends. Well, according to the USTA website, tennis has a variety of physical and mental health benefits. Tennis improves speed, flexibility, and improves cardiovascular fitness. Also, because lessons require self-motivation and determination for improvement, children develop a good work ethic. Now that we have the health section covered, let’s move on to the fun stuff!

This past week, I interviewed one of our determined CF tennis clinic members, Keegan, who raved about Alina’s ability as a tennis professional and coach. Keegan discussed that not only does he have a blast playing tennis, but he knows he is receiving excellent training! Within this training, Alina provides instruction to improve stroke productions, footwork, conditioning and matching to prepare players for tournaments. While this clinic is great for players of ages 7 to 16 who are looking to improve their game of tennis, no experience is required! Alina makes sure that there is no more than 16 players per clinic so each member, whether experienced or a newcomer gets the personalized instruction they need. As Keegan pointed out, Alina and her staff also make sure their program is fun! They play different ball games and match plays to keep their players’ adrenaline going. They even get numerous water and snack breaks so members can socialize and get the fuel they need for a good performance. To see what our tennis clinic is about, watch our video “Get your game on.” So work hard, play hard, and have a fantastic Camp Friendship time!

They just keep going and going!

young boys playing lacrosse“Gosh, I wish I had that much energy!” Let’s face it. No matter how much we may try, we are still amazed at how active children can be without seeming to get tired. The energizer bunny comes to mind; it just keeps going and going! This is exactly why we at Camp Friendship like to provide active games and sports activities that are not only beneficial to children’s health, but are great fun!

boy jumping on mountain board

Let’s talk about some of these activities! Campers can enjoy everything from mountain biking on our crazy, exhilarating trails, to soccer on our wide-open games field. We even have sports clinics for gymnastics, waterskiing and tennis. Lacrosse is another crowd favorite. Many campers this week had never even played the game before, and the instructor laughed, “Remember to pick up the ball. This isn’t hockey!” However, with a few more training instructions and words of encouragement, the excitement on the players’ faces showed when they were able to pick up the ball and pass it to a fellow team member. I then came across some campers enjoying mountain boarding down a massive hill. Some sat on the boards while racing down slopes, whereas one junior camper worked up the courage to try a few jumps on stunt hills. With each activity, there is sure to be some wipeouts and grass stains, along with lots of laughs and a feeling of accomplishment.young girl climbing a latter rope

So what exactly are our sports clinics and athletic activities giving our campers other than the opportunity to run, play, and release all that energy? After researching the site Better Health Channel, we have our answer! Did you know that only 6 out of 10 children between the age of five and 14 participate in sports outside of school? Or that sports and physical activities improves coordination and balance, promotes healthy bone growth, not to mention it gives children confidence. So whether we encourage our campers to use their balance in our intense ropes course, or work up the confidence to try a game of badminton, we at Camp Friendship are confident that we are providing activities to keep our kids healthy and happy.


Hey, this is me!

girls having fun at summer campWith our first week of camp under way, Camp Friendship has many new faces. Matching the names to these faces can be a challenge for both staff and campers alike! So we like to play some ice breaker games to help our campers get to know one another in a unique way that doesn’t involve the use of technology as discussed in our last blog, “Where did all the mud pies go?” Sometimes it is as simple as moving around the room doing hilarious handshakes, to one of my all time favorites, “Insanity.”

If you haven’t already guessed it, the point of insanity is to act like you have lost your marbles. This game challenges campers to think outside the box and embrace their goofy side. We first tell the campers to go to their cabins where their team must retrieve twenty items. The more random the items are, the better! Then it’s time to start the competition between the teams. Staff members reward points while our campers perform tasks such as, “bring an item with a hole in it while crab walking to your judge.” We even have them bring the item via human chain, which our campers thought was hilarious. Each camper gets a turn to do a task and explain to the judges why their team chose what they did.

“Insanity” is great because it not only allows each child to show off their personality and funny side, but it allows other campers to see it! While each member has the opportunity to share his or her own ideas, they must work together as a team to succeed in the end. We at Camp Friendship are fully aware that each child is unique and has their own set of talents, which is exactly why we like to play games such as insanity so each camper has the opportunity to say, “Hey, this is me!”

Where did all the mud pies go?

Girls laughing at camp“Danny! I told you it’s time for dinner! Now turn that video game off and come sit down and eat. Danny, are you listening? Danny! “

Have you ever felt exasperated while trying to pull your child’s attention away from video games, a computer, or their cell phone? Maybe asked yourself, what happened to all the mud pies? We live in a world of technology, so it is most likely you have. While fighting zombies or texting friends can be really fun, these activities in excessive use can have harmful effects on our youth.

In the article, “Children, Technology, Problems, and Preferences,” teachers at ColumbiaBoys having fun playing soccer University shared their study discussing the negative effects texting and social media sites can have on children. Authors Barry Farber et. al. divulged information from the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project in 2011. Of teenagers that use the Internet, 80% from the ages 12-17 use social media sites. Some negative effects of the increase in the use of social media sites include: sleep deprivation, Internet addiction, and social anxiety.

The American Camp Association supports the idea of moving away from technological interaction. The ACA suggest that children need to develop social skills such as leadership, communication, and participation in order to cultivate relationships with their peers. We at Camp Friendship believe peer relationships and the ability to learn and care for one another is important, so we offer a great deal of options for our campers to develop their social skills without the use of technology.

Boy playing in the sand This past week, we allowed our campers to escape the world of technology through the weaving of bracelets, the exhilaration of mountain biking, and the warmth of the summer sun. Our campers did everything from playing soccer to playing with clay. Not only are they molding a clay pot, but they are making friends with campers from all over the world. In a sense, we have our own community at Camp Friendship. We support our community members in our weekly campfire skit presentations and our nightly group activities. Children learn what it is like to work as a team. We encourage our children to embrace not only their own creativity, but their peers’ creativity as well. Therefore, the ability to listen and effectively communicate is a must for all of our activities. We as staff build self-esteem and self-importance, and we strive to have our campers do the same for each other.

In Loco Parentis

kids having fun while running

“In place of the parent.” That’s exactly what “In Loco Parentis” means, and our staff at Camp Friendship takes this idea very seriously. We are well aware that parents have entrusted their children with us, and we take pride in being a well-prepared staff and confident, responsible caretakers. During these past few weeks, the staff has been hard at work training and preparing for the many campers that will soon be arriving at Camp Friendship. We are getting down to business learning certain protocols and procedures that need to take place, as well as getting ready to give our campers a great, exciting summer.

Counselors learning first aid at camp

Camp supervisors sing a catchy song they created to help staff learn first aid procedures.

Camp Friendship knows that parents want their children to have fun, but most importantly, be safe as well. We take pride in the fact that we are accredited by the American Camp Association ( and have been since our founding in 1966. This means that we have met over 300 health & safety standards that were required of us, surpassing what’s required by the state. Also, a majority of our counselors are first aid certified so we can handle a variety of situations. To help us learn some of these standards, supervisors put on a skit this passed week and acted their way through different scenarios. This activity was very entertaining and it helped us retain the information in a unique way. It is important that we know how to make the right decisions so we can stay calm and in turn keep our campers calm and safe.

Kids having fun at camp

Not only are we trained in being responsible caretakers during our campers’ stay, but we know how to have fun. A lot of fun! The staff had a blast during training because we actually got to do the activities that our campers will get to participate in this summer ( Everything from singing and dancing, to our ritual campfire presentations, to playing an epic game of “Capture the Flag” was on the day’s event’s list. Some of us dressed up to get into character, while others spent time to practice very unique dance routines. Every one of us had a fantastic time during these activities. We can’t wait to share the good times with this summer’s campers…so hurry up and get here!


Packing Tips for Sleepaway Camp in Virginia

We can smell it in the Virginia air, summer camp is almost here! Campers and parents, you must be getting excited. I know we are! A summer at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, who wouldn’t be excited?

You might not be excited about packing for sleepaway camp. It can be overwhelming, especially for first time camp goers (and their parents!!!). We’ve tried to make it a little easier for you by compiling this list of packing tips and reminders! We encourage past campers (and parents) to chime in (y’all are the pros)! We’ll add your tips to the list!

Camp Clothes:

  • Remember that items may return damaged (or not at all), so don’t worry if clothing and shoes are old! Most important is comfort. Label everything!
  • Yes it’s summer, but maybe the nights will have a chill in the air? Make sure to pack a pair of jeans and a sweatshirt for the evening!
  • If you pack anything extra, bring a couple extra pairs of underwear, and socks!!
  • Think of the activities your child you may be participating in when packing. Be sure to have proper footwear. Sneakers, boots, etc..
  • Remember to pack a hat, bandana, headband (or all 3) to help protect from the sun, as well as sweat!
  • Consider the possibility of a summer rain show. Throw in a rain jacket, or poncho.

Other Misc Items:

  • The sun will be shining, it’s summer after all! Be sure to pack enough sun screen, lip balm with SPF, and sunglasses. (Remind your children to reapply sun screen after swimming!!)
  • Along with the sun, summer is also time for the bugs to be a bitin’! Be sure to pack some bug spray as well.
  • Include books, a flashlight, puzzles, and other small games for cabin time. (Think of group games, like mad-libs, etc.) Also include self-addressed envelopes with stamps for a quick letter home!
  • Include a comforting item that helps your child feel secure. Maybe a family photo?
  • Avoid sending valuable items that could be stolen or damaged.

Packing Tips:

  • Zip-Lock Bags are helpful to keep small items together. Plastic bags are useful to hold laundry or wet items! Try rolling your t-shirts and placing them in labeled bags to keep things organized, save space, and sneak in an extra plastic bag!
  • Prepare a bathroom kit. Include toiletries and shower shoes!
  • If you are packing items that are breakable, try stuffing them inside thicker, cushioned items.
  • Be sure to label everything!
  • Take inventory of everything going in the bag.
  • Include a copy of the list in the bag. When it’s time to pack to come home your child will know everything they should be packing up!
  • Start packing early!

Of course, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us! Happy packing! We’ll see you soon.

5 Reasons to Send Your Child to Sleepaway Camp in Virginia

Campers at Camp Friendship in VirginiaAre you still on the fence about whether or not to send your child to sleepaway camp? Summer camp is great for so many reasons (and we’ll get to those reasons later in this post).

Let’s start with a little about us. We are conveniently located between Washington DC and Richmond, in Palmyra VA, at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains and are looking forward to another great summer here at camp! And, the good news, we still have a few spots open for new campers! So, jump the fence and register your children for a session at Camp Friendship!

Here is a quick rundown of 5 reasons to send your child to sleepaway camp!

1. Build Self-Confidence: Camp can seem overwhelming, especially to first time, young, shy campers. But, summer camp is actually the best place for your child to come out of their shell and develop a new self-confidence. We create an encouraging and supportive environment in which your child will feel comfortable trying new activities!

2. To Learn Responsibility: At summer camp, children must learn to make decisions for themselves, such as what activities to participate in. Children also must learn to be responsible for keeping their cabin clean, and following a schedule. This learned responsibility carries over into their daily lives at home and in school as well.

3. Social Interactions: In today’s digital world, children are learning to communicate through a box…text messages, email, chat, etc. At summer camp, technology is removed, and children are able to gain the social skills needed to succeed later in life.

4. Lifelong Friendships: There are no other friends like summer camp friends. Sleep-away camp allows your children to form bonds with children they may have never had a chance to meet. Through shared experiences and adventures, your camp friends become your extended family!

5. Unforgettable Memories: Every summer at Camp Friendship we strive to create the most amazing camp experience for our campers. Camp is a place for experiences, growing, memories, friendships, and most importantly FUN!

If you are still unsure, contact us today and speak with the camp staff. We are here to answer your questions, and address your concerns.