Session 8A- May the CF force be with you!

Sunday
A long time ago, in a camp not so far far away… we began the epic week that we know as 8A! After check-in, all of our new campers met their counselors and cabin mates and settled straight into camp life. We had dinner, international flag raising and then headed to opening campfire where we saw the long-awaited comeback of the act ‘YES!’ performed by 12-year CF returner Ben and Junior Boys superstar Jay! Some stayover campers also took to the stage and we had a brilliant ukulele rendition of Ed Sheeran’s ‘Castle on a Hill’.

Monday
And they’re off! Our campers have begun their first day of activities and we can see a lot of smiling faces. We had beautiful weather which made free swim very popular and the ice creams from snack bar went down a treat! Thankfully the sunshine stuck around and made our evening cookouts that much more enjoyable, especially for Riding Camp who partied at the lake and our senior villages who chilled at the pool.

Tuesday
Today our campers get to continue with their activities; mountain boarders get to ride the bigger hill; mountain bikers can head out on the more difficult trails and archers get a full hour of shooting. In the evening, our juniors got to run around playing chip cup (a tactical water fight!) and the seniors got to dive down Slip N Slide! Be sure to check out the photos on your CampMinder accounts!

Wednesday
Mid-week at camp and it started with glorious sunshine! We managed to get all of our five activities in before the rain (more commonly known as liquid sunshine at camp) started to fall. This meant our senior campers’ evening activity changed to a hilarious quiz night and juniors getting to play in an awesome dodgeball tournament.

Thursday
By Thursday all of our campers are showing how good they’re getting at their activities; archers hitting bullseyes, fencers perfecting their technique and tennis pros playing some pretty tense matches! Everyone was looking forward to the evening activity- the dance! The theme was ‘The Greatest Show at Camp Friendship’, all things circus! The campers were given colored wristbands to gain entry to the big top; mid way through the dance however, something strange happened… Luke Skywalker appeared! Then Leia, then Darth Vader and even R2D2! Random characters appearing and acting out a dramatic storyline? It can only mean one thing… COLOR WARS! The campers looked down at their wristbands and found out which team they were on! It’s safe to say it was difficult to go to sleep after all that excitement and knowing that tomorrow was going to be the ultimate day at camp!

Friday
Rebels, the Empire and Droids… Star Wars is our Color Wars theme this week and wow did our captains find the force! The lake events were awesome, with watermelon relays, sinking some canoes and some of the best interpretative dives ever created at Camp Friendship! Favorite moments included Luke finding out who his father was and falling off of the high dive in shock! What we love about Color Wars day is that sportsmanship also earns you the same amount of points as actually ‘winning’, so the chants and cheers are heard all over camp! After a much needed rest during village time, it’s on to the S tar Wars relay. We start at the lake and end up at the lower fields for the incredible rope-burning fires, everyone participates and it’s pretty epic! The last stage of the day is at the drama theater for the team songs, dances and floats. This is where our campers can get creative- black team’s dance to a Star Wars remix was absolutely phenomenal! 

As if all that isn’t enough for one day, we then moved to our closing campfire. This is where we discovered the winner of Color Wars 2018… Droids, yellow team! What a day and what a way to finish session 8A. Campers: in the words of Yoda… amazing, you were.

Session 7A- Sunshine, Soccer and so much S’more!

Sunday
The gates are open, and in come our campers for week seven! It’s a great week to be at Camp Friendship: we have our annual soccer game with Triple C as well as our second horse show of the summer. As always, we had our opening campfire on Sunday evening with some very funny acts from counselors and stayover campers. Junior boys created a skit called ‘The Interview’ which had everyone in fits of laughter!

Monday
Rise and shine campers! With over 35 activities on camp, our campers get to learn many different skills and try loads of new things. After a full day of free swim, snack bar, cabin time and five activity periods, you would think we’d be done for the night… not so! Our evening activities began – juniors had loads of fun with Slip N Slide and our seniors played Capture the Flag!

Tuesday
Soccer shirts, chants and banners at the ready! The 2018 Camp Friendship VS Triple C soccer match has arrived! Arts and crafts is busy today creating signs and flags for the game, our kitchen staff are preparing an all-camp cookout down at the lower fields and our soccer and dance teams are starting to get just a little bit nervous! Our day ran as normal up until 5:45pm, when we moved to the soccer field for the event everyone had been waiting for.

After eating our hotdogs and burgers, we welcomed Triple C onto camp and got settled ready to watch the match unfold. Both teams were phenomenal; the game had to go to extra time and then penalties! Right at the end, Triple C managed to score the last penalty and won the game. Our team were amazing, as well as our fierce dance team who performed the half-time routine!

Overall, a great evening was had by all and our campers are the best supporters in the world!

Wednesday
After all the excitement yesterday, we had some sleepy campers this morning! It was fluffy waffles and bacon for breakfast (there are definitely worse ways to start a day) and then off to Day three of activities. Everyone enjoyed resting up during cabin time and junior girls prepared decorations for this evening’s dance: ‘Glitter and Glow!’ Neon glow sticks, glitter face paint, even a handmade disco ball, Camp Friendship campers sure know how to light up a dancefloor!

Thursday
Today our campers continued learning in their five activities, as well as spending more time with their newly-found friends during village time and free swim. The juniors got to dress up their counselors in ‘CF’s next top counselor’ using trash bags and imagination! Seniors moved to the gym and played Noodle Hockey variations, the hungry hippo round was a favorite!

Friday
Friday always brings mixed feelings to camp, we have loads to look forward to; our last full day of activities; finishing up projects we’ve been working on for the whole week and of course closing campfire. However, tomorrow means it’s time to go home and that can be bittersweet. Camp fire was certainly a great way to end week 7, we had glee perform ‘Titanium’, dance and drama showed us their amazing skills and lots of campers were getting up on stage to make us laugh out loud. It’s crazy how much we’ve squeezed into one week, hopefully we’ll see everyone next year for summer 2019!

Session 5A: Virginia My Second Home

Sunday

Today we met all of our new campers for Session 5A, which means we’re already over half way through our summer season! Time is really flying, but this week showed just how special and lasting a mere six days at Camp Friendship can be. Campers that meet on Sunday go home with new best friends on Saturday, with newly-discovered skills and maybe even a new love for a life away from technology… maybe!

We started off the way we always do with our opening campfire; highlights included the Junior Boys’ ‘Magical Frisbee of Camp Friendship’ and the original song written by some of our previous counselors, ‘Virginia My Second Home’.

Monday

We raised the American flag on Monday morning and then began a full day of activities. We have our newly added ‘Land Sports Ultra!’ running this week- campers get to try lacrosse, rugby, ultimate frisbee, gaga ball and many more sports all throughout the week. In the evening, each village had their weekly cookout. Hamburgers, hot dogs, taco skillet and s’mores all round!

Tuesday

Tuesday started off sunny and bright as everyone headed off to their activities. We have some incredibly talented campers with us this week, arts and crafts is full with amazing portraits, paintings and pottery projects! Later in the day we had some lovely liquid sunshine (known elsewhere as ‘rain’) which meant us combining activities and giving everyone the chance to try something that isn’t normally on their schedule. Evening activities ran as normal, juniors got to try ‘Minute to Win It’, a fast-paced game that presents a new challenge every minute. Our seniors took part in Mock Olympics and represented their country while competing in epic battles such as ice skating using paper plates as skates!

Wednesday

Another camp day and everyone is mastering the skills they are learning here. We had loads of fun during free swim and snack bar, as well as some much-needed chill time in the cabins. Wednesday also brought us the incredible ‘Hoedown of Horrors’ dance night! We had zombie cowboys, spooky scarecrows and a headless horseman! I think Wednesday night was the most people we’ve ever had on the dance floor for ‘Cotton-Eyed Joe’, led by the fantastic Riding Camp counselors!

Thursday

As we near the end of Session 5A campers are already talking about next year, “Will you be coming back?” “Will you be my counselor again?” “Maybe we’ll be in the same cabin again!” It’s amazing to see how much our campers end up meaning to each other after just six days. Aqua Zumba (a 2018 addition to our activities) has proven so popular that even our director team took part today! No matter who you are, there’s always time for a bit of fun here at camp. This week Volleysquare has become camp’s new favorite game. We’ve played it in the pool all week and then moved it to Overlook Hill for the seniors’ evening activity, Slip N Slide! Our juniors headed to the lower fields for an intense and very funny game of Powder Fairies.  

Friday

We begin every Friday with a musical breakfast, including a compulsory ‘Cotton-Eyed Joe’ flashmob dance for Riding Camp. Today is the first Horse Show of this summer. Our Equestrian staff and campers work tirelessly to put on a show for the parents and showcase the skills they’ve learned over these 2 weeks. The show came together brilliantly and everyone was very proud of our campers and their horses! The evening brought us our closing campfire; we had many skits from campers this time around, as well as some funny counselor acts! Knowing that tomorrow will bring a lot of goodbyes makes everyone sing our Friendship song a little bit louder. Session 5A, you’ve been a blast!

Session 4A – Let me see your Funky Chicken!

Sunday

Session 4A started off with a pretty amazing campfire: we performed some classic skits including  ‘If I Were Not A Camp Counselor’ and ‘1,2,3,4′ also known as the ‘Funky Chicken’. A memorable moment during this performance was Gary (our SV2 Supervisor from Ireland) dancing around the stage like a leprechaun trying to find a pot of gold! Our new campers learnt how to ‘Jigga’ and give a ‘standing O’ (short for standing ovation).

Monday

Mondays are always exciting at camp – it’s the first full day and our campers get to try out their schedule of activities for the first time. During free swim and snack bar, the campers got to spend some time with their new friends, both in their cabins and from other villages. In the evening, every village had their own campfire and cookout and then it was time for bed to experience another full day of activities tomorrow!

Tuesday

The sun is shining today at camp! Aqua Zumba (one of our new activities this year) has proved massively popular, with two full classes running this week. We can’t wait to try it during Family Camp this summer. The juniors took part in ‘Camp Friendship’s Got Talent’ for their evening activity, where each cabin performs an act for our judges: Balthazar the Wizard, the Dairy Queen (our Junior Girls supervisor in a cow onesie!) and Spiderman! Our senior campers joined together for an SV3 pool party which involved music, inflatables, pool noodles and lots of smiling seniors!

Wednesday

Half way through our week and our campers are progressing nicely in their activities! Our performing arts areas are working on campfire skits for Friday and Glee club is creating a spooky Friday 13th themed mash-up for us. Evening activities were Pool Olympics for our junior campers (biggest splash, smallest splash, most creative synchronized swimming routine!) and a Noodle Hockey tournament for our senior campers.

Thursday

Thursday marks our weekly dance night at camp. This week’s theme was ‘Back to the Future’, where campers and counselors could come dressed as a caveman from the past, or maybe an alien from the future! We also had Marty McFly turn up from the actual film, hoverboard and all! We danced the caveman conga, as well as rocking out to ‘Johnny Be Good’ and of course all the other camp favorites we love.

Friday

It’s Friday, and everyone is getting their friendship bracelets finished to give to their new-found buddies; our media students are finishing up their photography and video projects so they have something to take home and our sport-lovers are making the most of their last day running around playing ultimate frisbee! Our evening activity is of course our closing campfire where Glee got to show us their amazing monster mash/ ET mash-up and the dance classes received standing ovations when their hard work paid off. Our Equestrian campers are lucky enough to enjoy another full week of riding, with the much anticipated horse show coming up on Friday of next week. 

At the end of each Friday night campfire, we celebrate our 5-Year Campers by welcoming them on stage for a giant high five and a well-earned 5 Year Pin. We also sing our bittersweet song ‘Linger’ which shows just how much camp means to everyone that comes to their home away from home.

‘Mmm-mm, I want to linger, mmm-mm, a little longer, a little longer here with you…’

Planning for Camp 2018

In the circus of life, parents are the extreme jugglers: constantly juggling fireballs, curveballs, meatballs and more. As a local business that works one-on-one with parents and their children, we know that you put a great deal of effort into not dropping the ball.

While many of you are still recovering from a jaded January and a far-from-festive February, we want to help you avoid a manic March by offering the following advice when it comes to your child’s spring and summer breaks – start planning now! As the year marches on these holidays loom ever closer, and it’s time to consider the options available to you.

It is our opinion that the time kids spend away from school shouldn’t be filled with meaningless activities. We see this time as an opportunity for children to continue learning, to have meaningful interactions, and to gain new experiences that will continue developing them into the best possible version of themselves. We know that as parents you want the best for your kids, which is why we highly recommend the summer camp experience. While it is your job as a parent to make a decision, it is our job as youth development professionals to make that decision as easy as possible.

Why Camp?

There’s a common saying amongst those who have been hooked by the summer camp experience: they’re living 10 for 2. Once you’ve been bitten by the summer camp bug, the remaining 10 months of the year become inconsequential – it’s all about getting back to camp!

The summer camp experience is also described as a ‘bubble’ that children and staff members enter into and never look back. This bubble effect is created in a serene, natural setting surrounded by role models who genuinely care. It’s the type of environment that welcomes you as you are and helps you to be your best self in the most natural, fun-focused way. Campers gain independence by being away from their parents, they learn respect by sharing a living space with others, they learn to challenge themselves by trying new things, and they learn to connect with others by meeting people from all over the world.

Which Camp?

To assist with the endless planning that comes with being a parent, summer camps gather at Summer Camp Fairs throughout the early months of the year. These fairs are typically held at large shopping malls and schools, where parents can browse the various programs on offer and have their questions answered by knowledgeable staff. If you can’t make it to one of your local fairs, search for accredited summer camps on the American Camping Association’s website for parents.

Try It Out!

A number of camps will offer Spring Break Camps for first-timers to get a taste of what camp is all about. To see whether Camp Friendship’s Spring Break Camps align with your child’s school dates, visit www.campfriendship.com.

The summer camp experience is unlike any other youth development activity on offer. Some call it magic, some call it a bubble, but we call it home.

Camp Friendship sets the benchmark for an exceptional summer experience. Founded in 1966, we are a family-owned summer camp that offers year-round tours of our facilities. Give us a call on 1-800-873-3223 or visit www.campfriendship.com to learn more.

The Importance of the J1 Visa: To Camps, To America & To The World

Earlier this week Camp Friendship staff, along with summer camp staff everywhere, received an email which struck very close to us all. The email was in regards to the J1 work visa, specifically the Summer Work Travel (SWT) Program and the recent discussions to potentially cancel this program as a result of the Buy American, Hire American Executive Order signed by the President in April of this year.

For those of you who know Camp Friendship, you will know that we welcome staff from all over the world to enhance our program. In fact, Camp Friendship was founded on the notion of bringing children together from all over the world and providing them a safe space to gather in peace. Our international staff only strengthen this mission with the experiences they bring to share with our campers. Everyday we learn from one another and that is what makes us great. We proudly thrive on diversity of all kinds.

For those of you who don’t know Camp Friendship but know the camping industry, you will know the profound effect of international staff members.

Welcoming staff from around the world doesn’t take away opportunities from American staff, but rather helps with a shortage of seasonal staff and in the process opens up opportunities to all involved. To borrow from the language of the American Camp Association’s letter in support of the SWT program, “there is a shortage of available qualified seasonal workers in America, especially in rural areas like where most camps are located. Camps everywhere must compete with local businesses, internships, and summer educational programs in order to find staff willing to work during the short camp season.” Two thirds of overnight camps hire international staff, making up 10.9% of their staff, a percentage that increases to 19.7% for non-profit independent camps.

Beyond being essential to the operation of Camp Friendship and many other camps like ours, international staff give young people the chance to learn hands-on about different cultures. Research shows that youth camps improve developmental and academic outcomes, promote wellness and provide valuable employment experiences. The greatest economic impact of youth camps (besides almost $3.2 billion of which $1.1 billion is paid in local, state and federal income tax) may be their contribution to the development of human capital… development that is improved by international staff.

For me, the idea of losing the J1 program is hard to come to terms with on a personal level as I am a young person who has greatly benefited from the program. The first question I asked myself when I heard the news was, where would I be today without the J1 visa? The second… Who would I be today without the J1 visa? I can honestly say, without a doubt, I would not be the same person. I am who I am because of the experiences the J1 visa gave me, the people it allowed me to meet and the fears it helped me to overcome.

I am now fortunate enough to be working full-time at Camp Friendship on an extended J1 visa. This summer was the first time I was involved in the hiring of our brilliant staff members and I’ve been able to see first-hand the impact that working at a summer camp has on all our staff. I saw the transition from their first interview until their final day at camp, not just with our international staff but also our American staff. I saw friendships formed. I overheard conversations (and debates) on every topic under the sun: food, sport teams, school systems, the differences in how they would spend their free time and everything in between. I heard travel plans being made and watched international communities grow. To think of these opportunities being taken away from campers and staff alike is heartbreaking.

This summer, I also saw first-hand the impact of this particular international exchange program on our campers. Each and every year I see thousands of young people experience the magic of summer camp and grow, but this year I definitely noticed how much of an impact our international presence had, on our American and international children.

I noticed our campers really engaging and wanting to learn more about different cultures. I watched as staff would take the time to help campers understand why differences make us special and why they should be celebrated. I got to see (in the short space of 1 week) a camper’s ambitions change and their outlook on life develop. Campers developed a desire to travel the world to meet up with camp friends, to learn more, and to grow. This summer at Camp Friendship it didn’t at all matter where you were from, and it mattered immensely at the same time.

How YOU can help

As a part of our camp and global community, we ask you to join us in support of this cause:

Share. Share your stories of the positive impact our international staff have made, whether you were an international staff member yourself or whether you simply idolized your international counselors as a camper.

Write. Write to your representatives. The American Camp Association has pre-written a letter that is easy to sign electronically and send.

Call. Call your representatives, tell them how much you value the SWT Program and share your personal positive experiences that you wouldn’t have had if this program didn’t exist.

The legacy we leave with our campers and young people is what truly matters. Opening them up to the world and teaching them love, diversity and understanding matters. At Camp Friendship we will always strive to do what matters. We will always put your child first and do what is best for them, which is why we’re fighting this fight and we’re fighting it hard.

The Week So Far… Session 9A!

It’s our final week of the summer, and it looks like we’ve saved the best for last!

Our week began with a fun-filled campfire with performances from many of our staff members as well as some brave (and very talented!) campers.

On Monday we had some rain showers that put a few of our morning activities on hold, but that doesn’t mean we didn’t have fun, and it was all-systems go again by the afternoon!

On Monday evening we gathered together under the stars for a camp-wide cookout. As always, cookouts are filled with fun, games, dancing, laughter… and of course, s’mores!

Tuesday was our second day of activities and a chance to try some new things with our new friends. With over 35 activities to choose from, there’s no time for boredom at camp! Whether it’s a camper learning to build a shelter in Wilderness Survival or challenging their fear of heights in High Ropes, camp is a place to learn, play and grow.

On Tuesday night our Senior Campers had a pool party, and Juniors celebrated their creativity in a game called Insanity. Each cabin is required to fill a pillowcase full of random items from their cabin and then present them in the most creative way possible according to the judges’ wishes. Needless to say there was much madness that ensued, and plenty of laughter to boot!

The sun is out in full force today and everyone is enjoying day 3 – there’s singing and dancing in the Dining Hall, splashing going on at the pool and excitement all around. Tonight we’ve got Capture the Flag for Juniors and Noodle Hockey and Dodgeball for Seniors – it’s sure to be a great night! Be sure to watch our mid-week video on our YouTube Channel and keep your eye on CampInTouch each evening for the latest pictures.

The Week So Far… Session 8A!

It’s Week 8 and things are going great!

On Sunday we kicked things off with our Opening Campfire where we saw a hilarious depiction of how animals eat their food as well as some funny counselor impersonations, a song about bananas, impressive dance offs and more.

Our week began with a bit of a wet and rainy Monday, but that didn’t dampen our spirits – we still had plenty of time for fun with dodgeball and noodle hockey tournaments in the gym, a special event of Mock Olympics and some bonding time with our cabin mates and counselors. Monday’s evening activity was a cozy movie-watching session in the Dining Hall with all our new friends.

On Tuesday the sun shone brightly and everyone had the chance to try a full day of activities including free swim in the lake or the pool. On Tuesday evening the Seniors enjoyed a very competitive game of Counselor Hunt while the Juniors had a rocking Pool Party! Whatever we do at Camp Friendship, it’s always a good time.

Wednesday was our third day of activities, and the fun just keeps going. We’re all very excited for our very special evening activities tonight – instead of dinner in the Dining Hall we’ll be having a camp-wide cookout, and then we’ll all watch the big soccer match against Triple C, our day camp friends from nearby Charlottesville.

This friendly soccer game is an annual tradition for our counselors, and every year our soccer team is ‘sponsored’ by a different camp celebrity. This year it’s Owner Alina Ackenbom’s turn! Our soccer shirts are tennis-ball green in honor of Alina’s passion for tennis and her successful tennis program that brings campers from all over the world to improve their game. We hope this brings our team luck in the game tonight – be sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram to keep up-to-date with the score!

The Week So Far… Session 7A!

It’s Week 7 here at Camp Friendship in Virginia, and it’s been nothing but fun, friendships and WAR… SV Wars to be precise! This week our Senior Villages have declared war and are out to win in the epic battles of SV WARS. SV Wars is a brand new Village Time activity here at camp where campers and counselors compete in various activities throughout the week – there have been dance offs, ping pong tournaments, fashion shows, volleyball challenges and so much more! Be sure to follow our Camp Friendship Facebook and Instagram pages to find out whether SV1 or SV2 are victorious at the end of the week.

Taking it back a day or two to Sunday, we started Week 7 in the same way we start every week at Camp Friendship, with our Opening Campfire on Sunday night. This campfire is a time for new friends to come together beneath the stars and get to know each other a little better. It’s also a time where we watch our counselors make complete fools of themselves up on stage, and we love every minute!

After an early start on Monday, there was much excitement as everyone received their activity schedules and prepared to try their activities for the first time! Instead of regular dinner in the Dining Hall, our campers and counselors ate outdoors in a camp-wide cookout that was great fun!

After a full day of activities on Tuesday, it was time to cool off with a few camp favorites for evening activity: Slip ‘n Slide for Juniors and a highly competitive round of Pool Olympics for Seniors.

On Wednesday we received some much needed rain which gave us all some time to rest and recover from the high-energy activities we’ve been doing all week.

Rest time didn’t last long though as it was soon time to head Under the Sea for our camp-wide dance. It’s always great fun to see how our campers interpret the dance theme, and this week we had sharks, crabs, fishermen, squid and a whole crew of Spongebob Squarepants characters that made everyone giggle. Needless to say we had a whale of a time!

As we near the end of our week, we still have big plans for camp fun with our camp friends. Thursday‘s evening activities are some camp classics: Pool Party for Juniors and Powder Fairies for Seniors. Our Equestrian Campers will spend the evening preparing themselves and their horses for the big day on Friday: Horse Show Day! At the end of every 2-week Equestrian Camp session, the girls get the chance to perform the skills they’ve learned at camp to their families and friends, and of course their counselors swell with pride at seeing how far each rider has come in just 2 short weeks.

Be sure to look out for photos of your camper on CampInTouch over the weekend, and there’ll be a special Week 7 Wrap Up video to watch on our YouTube channel.

The Week So Far… Session 6!

It’s the middle of Week 6 and the good times keep rolling in!

We started off the week by showing a warm welcome to our international campers who have come from all over the world to be with us this week. We’ve got a diverse group of campers from Andorra, China, Spain, France, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Dominican Republic, Canada and the United Kingdom to name just a few.

On Sunday night the good times began with campers and counselors sharing their talents on the Campfire stage as well as a very messy and muddy act which continued the Junior Boys vs Junior Girls rivalry that started a few weeks ago.

On Monday we started our week of activities and had a blast trying new things! We took our cabin and village pictures (look out for those in your envelopes on Check Out day!) and spent time in the Lake and the Pool during Free Swim. Our first full camp day ended with a camp-wide Cook Out where we had the chance to bond as a village group over hamburgers, hotdogs, taco skillet and of course s’mores!

On Tuesday we continued with our 5 daily activities, learning more about the things that interest us and getting to know our new friends. The evening activities were some camp favorites – Powder Fairies for the Juniors and Slip ‘n Slide for the Seniors. Needless to say there was plenty of laughter to be heard both on Overlook Hill and the Lower Fields on Tuesday night!

On Wednesday we continued progressing within our activities and enjoyed a much needed rest during cabin/village time… having all this fun is hard work! This evening’s activities involve a great deal of splashing – we’ve lined up Chip Cup for Juniors and the oh-so-competitive Pool Olympics for Seniors. Stay tuned for more news!