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!

 

The Week So Far… Session 4!

It’s the middle of the week at Camp Friendship, and we can’t believe how quickly it’s come around! We’re sure that as parents and grandparents you’re already missing your happy campers, but we can guarantee that there hasn’t been much time for missing home here at camp!

We started the week off with a bang during Sunday’s Opening Campfire where new campers were introduced to some CF classics such as the Jigga and everyone’s favorite, Radio. Much to everyone’s delight there was also a performance of the Banana Skit which seems to be this year’s trend – ask your campers to tell you all about it in their e-letters!

Monday night presented our first chance to bond as a village with a camp-wide cookout. Junior Boys took to their beloved Bikey P (Bike Pavilion) so they could be close to the gym for a few games of GaGa Ball and Dodgeball. Junior Girls and Riding Camp enjoyed their cookout and s’mores close to home in their villages while Senior Village 1 and 2 spent their time at Friendship Lake.

The sun shone brightly on Tuesday and so it only seemed appropriate to do some of our favorite evening activities, Slip ‘n Slide for Juniors and Pool Party for Seniors! Be sure to check your CampInTouch accounts for pictures, everyone had a blast! Tonight’s evening activities involve water, water and more water as the Seniors take their turn on the Slip ‘n Slide and Juniors play a game of Chip Cup. Although there are some basic rules to the game of Chip Cup, it’s best described as a giant water fight involving a few poker chips and cups of water on the lower fields… the perfect way to cool down on a hot summer’s day! 

In other news, our Drama Production campers have been working hard on their upcoming performance of Law & Order: Fairytale Unit this Friday. We can’t wait to watch all their hard work pay off with plenty of laughs and cheers from their camp friends!

On the horsey side of things, our 2-week Riding Campers are having a ball getting to know their horses and learning all about what it takes to care for their very own 4-legged friend. At the end of next week these girls will present their skills at a Horse Show which they are all very much looking forward to!

Look out for some great photos of our camp-wide dance on Friday, the theme is To Infinity and Beyond and our campers and counselors are always very creative when it comes to costumes. We can’t wait to see what they come up with!

The Week So Far… Session 3A!

They say good things come in threes, and Session 3A is proving to be no exception… it’s been a fantastic fun-filled week so far!

After meeting our new cabin mates on Sunday, we headed to our international flag raising ceremony where we welcomed our friends from other countries. Camp Friendship is all about celebrating diversity and this week we’re lucky enough to have campers from Colombia, France, Italy, Monaco, Mexico and Saudi Arabia to name just a few! Next we headed to Opening Campfire for some live entertainment thanks to our creative and fun-loving campers and counselors. Campfire hosts Kerry and Ben are no strangers to the campfire stage (having been at Camp Friendship for over 10 years each!) and they had us all in stitches with their silly banter and jokes. The campfire acts, as always, were super impressive with campers and counselors showing off their many talents which included singing, magic tricks and even a performance of CF’s Got Talent – Worst Singer Edition!

After selecting our top 10 activity choices on Sunday night, we started our first day of activities on Monday. One of the best things about summer camp is that you get to try things you’ve never tried before, like Aerial Silks in our awesome gymnastics center.

Our Riding Camp campers got to meet and interact with their horses for the first time on Monday, and needless to say special bonds were made right away with their 4-legged friends.

The fun at Camp Friendship doesn’t stop when the sun goes down, and Monday’s evening activities included a pumping Pool Party for Juniors and Riding Camp while Seniors took to the lower fields to try their luck against the Powder Fairies.

Tuesday was of course a very special day at Camp Friendship, and everyone got into the red, white and blue spirit as we celebrated the 4th of July. It was all hands on deck as we decorated the dining hall and flag area and had a camp-wide cookout and picnic complete with red, white and blue chocolate cake. We also had fireworks at Friendship Lake which was an extra special treat!

After all that excitement it’s not surprising that we’re all amazed it’s Wednesday already, and time for day 3 of our activities. Tonight’s evening activities are Noodle Hockey and and Pool Party.

On Thursday we’ll have our camp-wide dance where the theme is of course Party in the USA, so get ready for even more red, white and blue celebrations. We know that 2017 is our best summer yet, but week 3A is looking to be our best week so far, and we’re so excited about the things to come!

The Week So Far… Session 2A!

Our second week of camp is off to a great start with plenty of memories already made and new friends around every corner!

On Sunday evening we had our first flag raising ceremony where we recognized how far everyone has traveled to get to their summer home away from home. This week we have campers visiting from Palestine, China, France, Mexico and Mongolia, not to mention our staff members from Puerto Rico, Scotland, England, Ireland, Denmark, New Zealand, South Africa, Turkey, Hungary, Czech Republic, Russia, Venezuela… the list goes on!

Every week there are new accents and cultures at camp and this helps us to achieve our mission of being a place where children can gather in peace… it really is a unique setting and something we are very proud of here at Camp Friendship!

Sunday night’s Opening Campfire gave our new campers their first glance at just how much fun camp can be: our counselors taught them songs, performed funny skits and had everyone joining in with the camp classic, the Jigga.

On Monday morning our Traditional Camp campers got to sample their first 3 activities while our Equestrian Camp campers got a chance to ride their horses for the first time. Later on in the day everyone took the chance to cool down in the pool and lake during Free Swim. There were more new activities to try on Monday afternoon and Monday’s evening activity offered a chance for village bonding during Cookout. There were even a few impromptu games of Chip Cup, frisbee, volleyball and Gaga Ball that broke out, so everyone had a great time. Our first full day of camp ended as all good camp days should – around a fire with s’mores!

Tuesday was a total splash for our senior campers who took to the mountain boarding hill for slip ‘n slide. We saw some interesting techniques and some pretty funny faces, because slip ‘n slide is always a ton of fun. Junior campers enjoyed one of the craziest evening activities there is: Powder Fairies, where they work as a team against the powder-swinging fairies who are out to interfere with their mission and get them stuck in one spot!

During tonight’s evening activities it’ll be time to cheer on our teams as we take to the gym for Mock Olympics. Our senior campers will go head to head on the sports fields for an epic game of Tri Cone Ultra, a unique CF activity that gets even more intense than Capture the Flag!

Stay tuned for more news and be sure to follow our social media accounts for the latest updates! For more pictures, login to your CampInTouch account!

The Week That Was… Session 1A!

Blink and you’ll miss it – we can’t believe that Week 1 of camp is already over! Although for many of our campers it went by far too quickly, we managed to squeeze in as much fun as possible, and here’s how:

We kicked off the week by welcoming our campers and staff from all over the world with our International Flag ceremony, before checking out some awesome acts at campfire. We learnt some new songs (one of which is a new favorite ‘Funky Chicken’) and witnessed some of CF’s finest campfire classics such as the Airplane Skit aka Chicken or Beef.

Excitement was in the air on Monday morning as we got ready for our first full day of activities! As always, there’s never a dull moment at camp and things got a little wet in the afternoon but as we say at camp… there’s no such thing as rain, there’s only liquid sunshine! We spent the time in our cozy cabins getting to know our cabin mates and playing games like dodgeball, shadow puppets, spoons and cards. Our dance pavilion transformed into a movie theater for our seniors which just goes to show that rain can never get us down here at camp!

On Tuesday evening it was time for Senior Villagers and Riding Campers to go head to head in an epic battle of Capture the Flag. The intensity was kicked up a gear when the campers took on the counselors…and won! The Juniors competed in a new evening activity called Get To Know Your Counselor where they had to guess all sorts of silly facts about their cool and crazy counselors with all their fun accents.

With the sun shining brightly on Wednesday we did some serious splashing with Slip ‘n Slide and a Pool Party and of course plenty break out dances when counselors were asked to ‘Show me how you get down!’

During our Thursday daily activities we started to put the skills we learned into practice in games and matches and then it was time to dress up for the big dance! We had berets, boots, flags, feathers and more as we all took to the gym floor for the Around the World boogie!

The final campfire on Friday is always bittersweet as it brings the week to a close, however there was much to celebrate with some campers receiving their 5 Year Pins for being loyal CF campers since 2013! We had some fantastic performances from groups and individuals including drama, dance, glee and more. Be sure to check out the Week 1 Wrap Up to see more, but it’s safe to say we had some really talented people here at camp this week!

We’ve been working hard to make 2017 our #bestsummerever, and so far it seems we’ve done a good job: a whopping number of Early Birders have jumped at the chance to sign up for next year! We can’t wait to see what Week 2 will bring… watch this space!

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.

Horseback Riding Camp Washington D.C.

Camp Friendship is the best horseback riding camp, located only a few hours away from home for Washington D.C. campers. What makes Camp Friendship the best horseback riding camp for children, is that we are experts in teaching the fundamentals of horse and rider, as well as providers of the most fun with our horses. Your child can enjoy time with our gentle horses, playing in the river or taking them out on our extensive cross country trails. Whether your daughter is a beginner or an advanced rider, Camp Friendship has the perfect program for any horse enthusiast! Our programs are designed to bring the best experience to children during their stay at summer camp.

We look forward to hearing from you to discuss the unique experience that a Camp Friendship Summer can provide your children. We are open all year round for tours and questions. Contact Camp Friendship today at 1-800-873-3223.

6 Steps to 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, we’ve simplified the process for busy parents by creating a 6 step process to choosing a summer camp:

1. Day or Sleepaway?
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
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:

  • Accreditation and References: Is the camp accredited by the American Camp Association and 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 during this time of year where first-time camper families are welcomed onto camp to meet staff, 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.

Ready to start searching? Try the ACA’s Camp Search on www.campparents.org.

There’s a camp out there to suit every child, and 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.

If you’re interested in learning more about Camp Friendship, join us at our Open House on April 22nd.