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!

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!

Writing Letters to your Camper: Tips Every Parent Should Read!

We know how hard it can be to send your child away to camp for weeks at a time and not be able to call or message them as often as you’d like. Although Camp Friendship is a technology-free camp, we also highly value communication and try to help you stay in touch with your camper as often as possible. We have our special e-letter system in place for just this reason, and we even set aside time during each busy camp day for campers to write home.

Some parents like to pre-write a number of letters to be delivered during their child’s stay at camp. If you’d like to do this, please date each letter and mail them ahead of time or drop them with us on Check-In Day. For ideas, check out 5 Letters to Write to Your Kids and our 5 tips below:

  1. Keep your letters upbeat. It’s important for campers to receive encouraging letters focused on the positive experience of camp rather than what they may be missing out on at home.
  2. Ask lots of specific questions. What is your favorite activity so far and why? What do you do in the evenings? What countries are your counselors from and have you learned anything new about that country?
  3. Give them updates about things that interest them. If their favorite sports team has played recently, give them the scores and updates, or if they’re interested in a particular celebrity, TV show or competition you could update them on these too. Not only does this show your camper that you value what interests them, but it will help them to feel connected to something familiar without bringing about homesickness.
  4. Send campers your love, not your anxiety. Try not to constantly talk about how much you miss them – rather express how much you care and how you can’t wait to hear all about the fun they’ve had at camp.
  5. Get creative and fun! Unique letters from a pet, secret coded letters or puzzle-type letters that need to be solved are always a hit here at camp! You’ll find some great ideas here  and also here.

What to do if your child gets homesick:

Research shows that around 90% of campers will experience some level of homesickness at least once during the summer. Please know that homesickness is definitely the norm rather than the exception, and let your child know that it’s completely OK to miss home and the things that are familiar to them.

At Camp Friendship, our staff are well-trained to deal with all levels of homesickness and with this being our 51st summer we have a good idea of what works to encourage campers to make the most of their camp experience. Our goal is for every camper to have a successful summer where they gain independence, increase their self-confidence and form connections with others. Parents can help by preparing themselves and their camper for the summer in a way that might prevent homesickness. Read more here.

Tips for what to say in a letter to a homesick camper: 

  • Empathize with them, but let them know that you’re proud of them for taking the big step to come to camp.
  • Reassure them that it’s OK to miss home, everyone does at some point, and being in a new environment can make anyone anxious.
  • Relate to them. You could share personal experiences of a time when you yourself felt homesick or if your camper has an older sibling or family member that successfully overcame homesickness you could share what helped them.
  • Focus on the positive. By the time you receive a homesick letter, your camper is likely to have bounced back and started to enjoy themselves again, so it’s important that your letter doesn’t hinder any progress they may already have made. Concentrating your letter on any exciting news your camper has already shared is a sure-fire way to remind them that camp is a fantastic experience.
  • Make them smile. Write them a few jokes or other creative letters to make them smile if they happen to experience another moment or two where they miss home.
  • Don’t suggest they quit. One of the hardest things for parents not to say is ‘if you don’t like it you can just come home’. While many parents think this will reassure their child, it often does much more harm than good. Of course in severe cases of homesickness this is a decision you would come to over multiple talks and updates from your camper’s Village Supervisor or a Camp Director, however sending your child to camp with the knowledge that they can pull the plug at any time can set them up to have an unsuccessful summer.

Please know that while homesickness is common at all sleepaway camps and across all ages, it doesn’t last long. We’ve had years of supporting our campers through their initial adjustment periods and we know that your brilliantly written letters will help to put a smile on their faces when they need it the most! We believe that it takes a village to raise a child, and we look forward to being an active partner in your child’s journey of wonder and self-discovery.

Why Camp Is a Multi-Year Experience

As active leaders in the camping industry, we know that Camp Gives Kids a World of Good. We’ve seen the studies and statistics and know that summer camp – regardless of which one you pick – can be a positive and impactful experience for any child. But is one time at summer camp enough?

We believe camp is a multi-year experience. Unlike many other long-running sleepaway camps on the east coast which offer 4 or 7 week options, Camp Friendship offers short 1 and 2-week sessions which can be combined to stay multiple weeks. We know that many first-time parents consider their first summer a ‘trial run’, and we also know how important it is for both campers and parents to feel ready for an overnight camp experience (even though at the end of the week, many first-time campers beg to be allowed to stay longer!).

Here’s 5 reasons we know that camp is best when experienced over multiple years:

1. Strengthen connections. Camp gives kids the chance to connect with others face-to-face. Campers stay friends with each other throughout the year and strengthen those existing connections at camp the following summer. Better yet, they continue to expand their circle of friends each year and, at Camp Friendship, they have the added benefit of being exposed to a global village with people who come from all over the world.

2. Practice emotional intelligence. As they get older, children need to practice the self-management of their emotions. Camp is the ideal setting to practice this as counselors serve as excellent yet subtle role models. Children expect to be told what to do and how to be by their parents… they don’t expect to be shaped by their counselors who can give them friendly advice from the vantage point of a friend who cares.

3. Guaranteed growth and progression. Not only is there the activity progression that follows the notion that ‘practice makes perfect’ in any sport or activity, but multiple years at camp offers social growth and development. It also allows campers to increase their independence from year to year. The first time at an overnight camp makes a big impact in the life of our campers, but each subsequent camp experience adds to and enhances the next.

4. Take a break from technology. We hear it every day – the ever-increasing impact of technology on humanity, and specifically children. Every year, as campers get older and become more dependent on technology, having a time set aside when they can be technology-free is a great way to help them become well-adjusted individuals.

5. Remove outside pressures that increase with age. Camp Friendship is a place to be YOU, allowing campers to join a welcoming community where they don’t need to pretend to be someone they’re not. Every aspect of camp creates a nurturing, inclusive environment where campers are encouraged to be themselves. Everyone is equal, everyone is supported, and everyone matters. The pressures from school, siblings and peers are removed, and, as parents, having these pressures removed for a period of time every year is especially appealing.

Tips for First Time Co-Ed Summer Camp Parents near North Carolina

Teamwork, Positivity, Encouragement for Campers

We are less than a month away until our co-ed summer camp near North Carolina gets underway! With the school year coming to an end, your house must be booming with excitement for a summer of fun at summer camp!! Of course it’s perfectly normal for first time campers (and parents) to experience some anxiety as departure for camp gets closer and closer.

It’s just as normal for a parent to worry about missing their child as it is for a child to worry about missing home. This may be the first time your child will not be home at night and there in the morning when you wake up. But, this is what the sleep away camp experience is all about! It’s a learning and growing experience for children and their parents!

Your children will be in a controlled, worry-free, and safe environment. Just because you aren’t there to watch them, doesn’t mean they will be alone! The great camp staff will be there to make sure your children have the best summer of their lives!

And, this of course is why you decided to send your children to summer camp in the first place! You recognize the value and benefits camp has on children. Camp is a place to grow, learn to be independent, and build long lasting friendships with a new group of children.

Of course, this doesn’t make it any easier on you as a first time camp parent! Here are some tips and ideas to remember as this year’s camp season approaches:

  • As parents, we run into situations where we tell our kids that it’s okay to be nervous. Remind yourself of this very fact! Assure your nervous kids that camp will be a blast, and remember to practice what you preach!
  • Embrace this time away from your children. Focus on a hobby, activity, or project that you’ve been “meaning to get around to”. Maybe there is a class you’ve always wanted to take?
  • Your children will someday go away to college, and this is a perfect opportunity to experience what life will be like!
  • Just think of the joy you will experience when you see that smiling face on your camper when you go pick them up at the end of their time at camp!

Most importantly remember that you don’t have to worry! Your camper is safe and thriving at summer camp. They are learning to make decisions, learning new skills, and gaining confidence in themselves and their abilities!

If you are still concerned, check out our Parent Resources. And remember, camp is only a phone call away, and Visiting Day is just around the corner!

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.