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Session 2A: Campers of the world, unite!

Sunday
Today we welcomed all of our new campers for week 2 of camp – our busiest week this summer! We had a little bit of rain during check in (ok… a lot!) but our lovely staff were out directing all of our families to their villages with a smile. Rain doesn’t get us down here at Camp Friendship, and we still had our outdoor opening campfire!

Monday
After raising the American flag, all of our campers made their way to their first activity of the day. There has been a high demand for a wide variety of activities this week, so our counselors are very busy! Campers can choose to start their day by jumping into a kayak, or take a more relaxing route and begin with yoga. Archery continues to be very popular, thankfully we opened up our second archery range this year so everyone has the chance to try this great sport. After a full day of activities we all headed to cookout. Junior girls made their dinner in their own fairy-light pavilion; junior boys hosted at our bike pavilion with their own fire pit; and our senior villages joined together to cookout at the lake and had a dance party!

Tuesday
On Tuesday everyone continued learning in their five periods and got to know their new friends a little better. Our evening activities were some classic camp favorites: powder fairies for the juniors and counselor hunt for seniors! Who knew dressing up as a fairy and running around a field with a flour-filled sock could be so much fun! (It’s a camp thing.)

Wednesday
How is it already Wednesday? Campers in pottery are perfecting their projects today to make sure they’re ready for the kiln; photography and video production are out capturing moments on camp and drama workshop, dance and glee are rehearsing their campfire skits! Our junior villages took part in ‘Camp Friendship’s Got Talent’ this evening, showcasing the impressive skills our campers and counselors have! We saw some standing Os (like a standing ovation, but way more fun!) and our audience cheered everyone on. Meanwhile, the senior villages headed to the lower fields for the ultimate camp challenge… Capture the Flag!

Thursday
Thursday saw our weekly Camp Friendship dance- this week’s theme was ‘Yo Ho Yo Ho, A Pirate’s Life For Me!’ Stripes, bandanas and eye patches everywhere! The gym was transformed into a pirate ship, with sails and pirate flags hung around the room. We danced to the classic songs ‘cotton eyed joe’, ‘wagon wheel’ and ‘the cupid shuffle’.

Friday

Yet another week that has gone by too soon, today our campers finished off their friendship bracelets, had their final jumps off the lake’s high dive and practiced their acts for our closing campfire. It’s always difficult to say goodbye to new friends, but the best thing about camp is that there’s always next year!

Session 1: And so it begins!

Finally, the summer gates of Camp Friendship are open! Our first week of camp has been one to remember, from our hilarious opening campfire (featuring two counselors lip-sync battling to Moana) to our awesome pajama dance party- where we saw some of the best onesies ever created! Everyone here at camp has had a blast, here’s what we got up to this week…

Sunday- A Warm Welcome!
After settling into their cabins, our campers had some scrumptious pizza and headed to International Flag Ceremony. This is where we ask all of our campers and staff from different countries to raise their flags and celebrate the diversity we have here at Camp Friendship. This week we had campers all the way from Saudi Arabia and counselors from New Zealand, not to mention at least 15 other countries! We then moved to our opening campfire, where the campers got to know how funny their counselors can be; the famous “How Animals Eat Their Food” and classic skit “Suzie” were definite favorites!

Monday- Here we go!
First day of activities! Today was the first time our campers got to try all the program activities we run here at camp. Archery, fencing and paddleboarding have been very popular choices this year, as well as pottery wheel. Over at our Equestrian Center, the campers met the horses they would all be riding for the week (we have over 80!) and started a full day of riding camp! In the evening, all of the villages had their own cookout and got to know everyone a little bit more; we’ve already had campers promising to write to each other when they’re back at home- which is what Camp Friendship is all about!

On Tuesday, our junior campers played ‘Minute to Win it’, the fast-paced, intense group competition to establish: Who can catch the most marshmallows while blindfolded? Who can get the most steps on a pedometer in one minute? Who can move a cookie from their forehead to their mouth without using their hands and eat it under one minute? As we said… very intense. Our seniors had a massive noodle hockey tournament, and were pretty tired after running around waving pool noodles in the air for an hour!

Wednesday brought us the classic evening activity… Slip ‘n’ Slide! Campers and counselors went sliding down our mountain boarding hill, aiming to knock down some inflatable bowling pins. Human bowling is now a thing at Camp Friendship!

Thursday arrived and our counselors started to see how much our campers have learned and improved in just one week. We had junior fencers parrying and working on their fancy footwork; mountain boarders riding the big hill without any worries; drama students performing in front of an audience without feeling nervous, and so much more! We all dressed up for our ‘Pajama Party’ dance in the gym Thursday evening. There were minion onesies, unicorn onesies, even a giraffe with a tail! Our classic camp routine ‘Everytime we Touch’ got every camper on the dance floor and we all danced until it was time for bed!

And here we are already, Friday. We had a little weather trouble Friday morning, so merged our activities and created the ultimate basketball tournament in the gym- as well as a 10 V 10 volleyball match and our seniors all got to try waterpolo in our pool! As the evening drew in, we prepared for our closing campfire. This time around, our campers were the stars of the show- performing everything they had been working on in the week as well as some village skits they’d created. At the end of our campfire, everyone joined together and we sang our Friendship song, followed by ‘Linger’, which sums up our first week at camp pretty perfectly… ‘This is goodnight and not goodbye.’

5 Reasons Why… Camp is Beneficial for Kids

In a world where children are plagued with outside pressures and high expectations, camp is a pressure-free world of endless possibilities and fun! As youth development professionals who spend every day thinking about camp, it’s near-impossible for us to simply explain the magic of the camp experience in words, not to mention narrowing down the benefits to just 5. Nonetheless, we’ve given it a go. Here are the reasons why we believe camp is beneficial for kids:

1. Connect without Technology: Perhaps one of the biggest benefits of attending sleep-away camp is that it forces campers to unplug. This is not only beneficial for developing personal connections and practicing social skills, but it helps to relieve social media pressures where popularity and self-worth are measured through the number of likes or followers you have. Kids experience constant pressure from social media to be what others want them to be, rather than being themselves. At camp, kids choose to do what makes them happy because it’s what they want to do, not to impress others or get digital ‘likes’ for doing it.

2. Grow to be Independent: Camp offers a taste of independence that is hard to come by in today’s world. From as young as age 7, campers are responsible for keeping their cabin space clean and making their bed daily. They separate, sort, and put away their own laundry. Sometimes, they are even responsible for tasks that affect their whole cabin such as setting the table or picking up food for their cabin mates. At Camp Friendship, campers are even responsible for arriving at their activities on time. This makes campers accountable for their own actions and teaches the importance of being punctual.

3. Experience Inclusion: No matter which camp your child attends, they are sure to be included in the warm, welcoming and supportive community that all camps provide. Camp Friendship celebrates differences and sends children home with a greater understanding of the world around them and a higher tolerance and appreciation for those who are different from them. The camping industry as a whole is also truly inclusive – there is a camp for every child. There are sports focused camps, artistic camps, music camps, space camps, camps for people with special needs, religious camps and camps for everyone in between.

4. Gain Values: Every camp has a purpose for existing and maintains a set of values that they incorporate into the camp experience. Camp Friendship was founded as a place for children from all over the world to gather in peace. At Camp Friendship, being yourself comes naturally because we celebrate diversity, we focus on connection and we encourage growth. We structure our camp and programs around these values and we love that our campers take these values away with them at the end of the summer.

5. Have Fun! The most important benefit of sleep-away camp is that it’s just downright fun! Kids get to be kids, explore new interests and push themselves to new heights surrounded by role models who want to see them succeed. There’s no better way to spend your summer!

As passionate industry leaders, we could talk about camp until our faces turns blue, but there’s no better explanation than experiencing it for yourself. For adults looking to experience the magic of summer camp, why not register for Camp Friendship’s Family Camp from 20-26 August 2018!

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.

Sleepaway Camp: Is Your Child Ready?

At this time of year, families all over the country are asking a similar question with regards to their summer plans – is it time to try sleepaway camp? Although summer may seem like light-years away, Camp Friendship encourages parents to consider these important questions before making any decisions.

Summer camp in VirginiaReady?
First of all, it’s important to note that it’s not only your child that needs to be ready for sleepaway camp – as parents, you need to feel ready too! Your family’s readiness for sleepaway camp depends heavily on your parenting style, your child’s age and temperament as well as their comfort level at sleeping away from home with friends or relatives. If your child has already mentioned the idea of sleepaway camp or has friends that attend sleepaway camps, this is a good sign that they might be ready.

From a young age, children seek ways to develop their autonomy, and overnight camp is an environment that supports this natural development in a completely organic way.

Co-ed summer camp for kids in VASet (the scene…)
With over 7000 overnight camps to choose from, it’s important to pick the camp that fits your child’s hopes and expectations for their first overnight camp experience. Top tip: Involve your child in the decision making process! Studies on homesickness have found that children handle separation best when they feel in control. Giving your child the opportunity to help pick out a camp will boost confidence, ease anxiety and reduce homesickness. As a family, decide whether you are looking for a one week experience or for something longer. Find out from your camper whether they are hoping to try a wide variety of new activities, or specialize in an activity such as gymnastics or horseback riding. To find the camp that’s right for you, ask fellow parents or check out campparents.org – a resource provided by the American Camp Association.

overnight camp VAGo!
Contact the camp to take a tour, or take a virtual tour online. With the season of camp fairs upon us, many parents will visit local malls and schools to meet camp directors and find out more about their summer options. Camp Friendship offers shorter Spring Break or weekend camp experiences to give first-time campers a taste of the overnight camp experience. Family Camp is another sure-fire way to get the whole family on board, and day camps are always a popular first step.

sleepaway camp in VirginiaEven if you decide that 2018 is not the summer for your family, rest assured that parents all over the country are unified in their opinions on the benefits of summer camp. Many parents comment specifically on their children’s increased independence and confidence when speaking with teachers and other adults, as well as improvements in their cooperation with siblings and classmates. One parent shared that instead of investing in private school they opt to send their children to Camp Friendship. They haven’t regretted a single summer!

Unfortunately, sometimes as a parent you will only get a definitive answer on readiness when you arrive to pick your camper up from camp. If you find them crying to stay for longer, chances are your family made the right choice!

Six Steps To Choosing A Summer Camp

choosing a summer camp

When it comes to summer camps, there’s a lot more involved than just campfires, s’mores and sing-along songs. As a parent, you might already have come to the realization that picking the right summer camp for your child isn’t easy… it’s an important and time-consuming decision.

As leaders in the camp industry, Camp Friendship in Virginia simplified the process for busy parents by creating a 6 step process to choosing a summer camp:

1. Day or Sleepaway?

When choosing a summer camp, first things first: Simplify your options. While there are hundreds of camps out there, you need to decide first and foremost whether you’ll be picking a day camp, an overnight camp or a combination of both for the summer. The most important part of this step is involving your child in the decision-making process. Some 7 year olds are ready for overnight camp, others are not; and parents need to be ready too. Session length is also a consideration when thinking of overnight camps as some offer 1 week sessions and others offer 2,3,4 and full-summer options.

2. Specialized Programming or General Fun?

Consider your child’s interests: what do they enjoy doing and what new activities would they like to try? Are you hoping for them to enjoy a wide range of experiences or do you want to opt for a specialty camp that focuses on a particular activity or set of skills? Nowadays camps offer all sorts of specialized options including horseback riding, circus and performing arts, sports, science and computer-based activities and more.

3. Philosophy and Mission: Does It Match Yours?

Now that you’ve narrowed it down some, it’s time to get to know the camp itself. What are you looking for in a camp? What should you be looking for? A sure-fire way to check whether a camp is the right fit is to consider your own parenting philosophy and whether the camp’s philosophy matches this: what is their view on competition, conflict resolution, flexibility and free-choice, are they affiliated with a religion etc. Another aspect to consider is the children that make up the camp’s community – would they all be from the same area or does the camp welcome children from out-of-state or other countries?

4. Consider the Costs

While choosing a summer camp, the general rule of thumb is that the earlier you sign up for camp, the cheaper it is. Some camps may offer financial aid or payment plans as well as sibling discounts or multiple week discounts. Check whether tuition is all-inclusive or if there are additional costs for transportation, specialized activities, out-of-camp trips etc.

5. Ask Questions

All camps should have a helpful FAQ section on their website which will most likely provide answers to questions you hadn’t even thought to ask. The American Camp Association suggests parents ask questions relating to:

  • Management and Staffing: What is the Camp Director’s background? How are staff members selected, screened and trained? What supervision ratio does the camp enforce?
  • Accreditation and References: Is the camp accredited by the American Camp Association? Are they willing to provide previous camper families as references? What is their return rate for campers and staff?
  • Facilities and Food: How are campers bunked and what are the bathroom facilities like? How does the camp accommodate fussy eaters or food allergies?
  • Health & Wellness: How does the camp handle medical issues and manage camper medications? What about special needs? Are there health care professionals on-site and where is the closest medical facility? How is homesickness handled? What is the camp’s stance on behavior management?
  • Activities and Program Goals: How does the camp assign campers their activities – is it free-choice or do they receive a structured schedule as a group or individuals? Which is better for your child? How does the camp structure free time into a typical day?
  • Communication: How can you stay in touch with your child during camp? Does the camp allow electronics or is it technology-free?

6. Pay Them a Visit

For a nervous camper (or parent!) there is nothing better than actually visiting the camp to ease any anxieties. Many camps have Open House Days where first-time camper families are welcomed onto camp to meet staff, as well as see the facilities and ask questions. Some camps also offer private tours just for you and your family. If you live too far away to visit, some camps may have camp videos or virtual camp tours on their websites which may be helpful.

Choosing a summer camp takes time to research. There’s a camp out there to suit every child. When you consider the fact that over 14 million people attend camps annually in the United States alone, it becomes easy to recognize that there must be something special and beneficial about the experience. Join Camp Friendship in Virginia.

Sign up today! 1 (800) 873-3223 or (434) 589-8950


Camp Friendship is a residential camp. If you have any questions pertaining to summer camp, sleepaway camp, coed summer camp, , horseback riding camp, tennis summer camp, overnight camp, or residential camp in Virginia, Washington DC, Maryland, North Carolina, or Pennsylvania, contact Camp Friendship at: 1 (800) 873-3223 or (434) 589-8950.

 

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.