College Weekend has come and gone. It was fantastic! And now, mid-summer weekend is a few days away! Sibling Overnight is this Thursday and so is the much- anticipated production of Shrek! And did I mention Visitor’s Day is this Friday?!! Summertime always go way too fast. It’s hard to believe campers depart this Saturday and our second session starts this Sunday. But first, let’s talk about this Friday, Visitor’s Day! It’s an opportunity to welcome our campers’ parents onto our magical world for the day. Visitor’s day allows our campers to reconnect with their families and for the families to meet the staff that have taken care of their children this summer. It also gives our guests time to enjoy our beautiful campus and to experience what their children have achieved thus far at camp. We will discuss mid-summer weekend further at our upcoming staff meeting. Mid-summer is a great opportunity to remind our staff to not take their time here for granted and to present in the moment. Here’s what else we shared with them.
Moments to Be Present During the Summer Camp Season
Remember that first night at dinner with your new cabin? The nervous excitement of your campers? The antics the campers did to figure out how they were going to fit in?
The campers … but what about you as the staff member in charge of these kids?!
Well, you made it! Nice work — you are still standing and in one
piece. Congratulations! Now it is time to ramp up for the last three weeks. You are tired, hungry, haven’t been on social media much, and you probably need to call home and maybe pay a few bills. Your campers presented you with a wealth of challenges, headaches, moments of greatness, and some serious conversations that you never dreamed of having — especially with children.
You have a few hours off and in addition to getting some serious (necessary) sleep, you can’t get the parting words from one of your campers out of your head. As they were leaving, they came up to you and shook your hand and with tears of exhaustion and a huge smile, they hopefully said “thank you, I had the best time of my life.”
You probably didn’t expect that, especially from that particular camper. But you had a tremendous impact on that camper and so many others. Your campers watch everything that you do and while their actions may not always show that, your kids cared about you and admired your greatness. You are their camp hero and you mean the world to them.
So, stop, breathe, listen, and look around. Pause to reflect on your work. All your hard work and sacrifices paid off. You have enriched a child’s life . . . forever. Best of all you get to do again for a whole new group starting camp this Sunday and keep making memories and keep it going with the our full season campers. So here’s to the final and best three weeks of the summer!!… Read More
Creating A Feeling of Profound Belonging at Camp
I’ve always felt the 4th of July is the unofficial start of summer. Staff training week gives our counselors the tools they will need to take care of other people’s children. Then the best day of the year, opening day, campers arrive! For the past ten days everyone is getting familiar with the routine of camp. On Independence Day everyone is in full camp mode. In other words, Camp feels like home.
At Camp Wekeela, we build belonging. Camp Wekeela changes children’s loves by creating fun and exciting experiences that give them the opportunity to explore and discover the best version of themselves. Some of the principles we utilize in supporting our campers is creating a feeling of profound belonging. Our goal is to be super thoughtful in our approach. A few of our principles we feel are worth sharing with you are how we shape our program and culture to build belonging:
Embodying our belief that there are many ways to be a woman and a man. We give boys and girls a diverse array of role models — men and women (many former Wekeela campers are now counselors) in whom campers can see aspects of the selves they seek to develop. When the people around us model the same humility, humor, talent, and compassion that we seek to develop in ourselves, they help us to recognize the sturdy roots of those same virtues within us. In such moments, we know that we are in a place where we belong.
Focusing on what is personal, real, and lasting. Too often children learn to gauge belonging through external signals: the music they listen to, the brands they wear, the devices they own. The result can be toxic, especially for children, who learn to measure themselves against dangerously narrow standards of masculinity. By embracing simplicity — in the clothing we wear, the music we make, the technology we leave at home — we foster deeper connections with each other and even within ourselves.
Emphasizing honesty as the most direct path towards a life of substance and meaning. Ultimately, belonging is not an external validation, but an authentic way of being. Honesty — and its companion, vulnerability — are signs of strength and signals of openness. Honesty elevates relationships beyond the superficial and invites us towards friendships in which we have the courage to be imperfect and the compassion to accept ourselves anyway. At Wekeela, as in life, there is no more powerful belonging than to each other.
That there are many ways to be a woman, that femininity can be misconstrued that you can empower them by embracing their independence, that expressing themselves is a strength.
That there are many ways to be a man, that masculinity can be toxic, that vulnerability is strength. Hopefully when our campers hear these ideas more often it will benefit them and make them feel like they truly belong.
Summer camps encapsulate the most amazing things about life; friendships, love, nature, freedom and tradition. Wekeela is rooted in the idea that as our society increases in speed and information availability, Wekeela will always be a place kids can go to escape from everything.
From our bunk to your we wish you a safe and fun 4th of July and a great rest of the summer!… Read More
What’s your favorite color? GREEN GREEN GREEN!
This summer, Wekeela is going to be greener than ever, thanks to campwide efforts to live sustainably. We want to ensure Pioneers will enjoy the shores of Little Bear Pond for years to come, so we’ve implemented new programs and partnered with local organizations to help us do just that. But, we need your help to see this through! Real change only occurs when dedicated individuals, such as yourselves, lead by example. In fact, Maine is leading the way too, by becoming the first state to ban Styrofoam. While the state prohibition goes into effect on January 1st, 2021, Wekeela is committed to not utilizing Styrofoam this summer. We’re excited to hop on the green train, and are so thankful you’ll be joining us!
We invite Pioneers to go beyond the 3 R adage (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) and focus on waste reduction as a whole, rather than just reducing, reusing, and recycling. By focusing our efforts on the actions at the top of the waste reduction hierarchy below, we will work together to significantly reduce consumption and waste, and therefore our need to recycle. Below you will find Camp Wekeela’s 10 R’s for 2019!
Refuse: If you don’t need it, say, “no thanks!” Taking more of something than we need wastes not only the product, but also the resource used to create and transport the product. For example, why use a disposable cup when your reusable water bottle (with your name written in permanent marker!) will serve the same purpose, and can be used over and over again?
Reduce: Take only what you need, not extra. While we recommend using a reusable hand towel to dry your hands, this is not always possible to do when you’re outside the bunk. Before reaching for the paper towels, use the shake and fold hand drying method: shake your hands over the sink twelve times before toweling off with a folded paper towel. Why twelve? Twelve is the highest number that is just one syllable, and will reduce the amount of water on your hands, therefore reducing the amount of paper towels you’ll need. But of course, Camp Wekeela has electric hand dryers in each public bathroom as well!
Reuse: Use it, and then use it again. This can relate to disposable as well as reusable items. Did you receive a package? Use the box to store the items neatly in your cubbies or under your bed. Use your towel multiple times before laundering, just be sure to shake it out and hang it on the line to dry between uses.
Repair: Give an old item a tune up. In the event your towel or shirt ripped, take it to Creative Arts to learn a new skill by mending it yourself (with some help). There’s no need to discard something when it can be fixed.
Recover: Salvage what you can! Did you really enjoy last week’s pasta dinner, but ended up with a sauce stain on your shirt? Don’t worry, this is the perfect shirt to tie-dye!
Repurpose: Get creative and find another use for an item you thought you no longer needed. Are you glad to hear from Mom and Dad, but don’t want to keep your Wekeela Notes around all summer? Bring them up to OA, and use them as kindling to start a fire. Better yet, use that fire to repurpose the graham crackers, chocolate, and marshmallows hanging around!
Rehome: One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Find someone else who would love your unwanted items. Share the magazines you received in a package with your bunkmates before throwing them out. If you have little bits of toiletries left over before you go home, leave them for your bunkmates to use up for the duration of the summer instead of throwing them out, or donate them and Camp Wekeela can offer them to different organizations in Maine.… Read More
Camp Wekeela starts in 30 days! Top Ten To Do’s and To Do’s
Everyday we hear from our camp families that their children are excitedly counting the days or are asking how few days are left till they are back at camp. Now that summertime and camp is getting closer, here’s what you need to do get your child ready for Wekeela 2019 no matter if it is their first year or their tenth!
10 To Do’s …
- Fill out and submit all forms. All forms are digital at the Parent Portal.
- Fill out the Health Form and register any of your child’s medications with CampMeds.
- Pay final tuition.
- Review optional camper activity form as space is limited in activities. This includes any specialty programming you may want for your child that our camp offers such as equestrian, golf, extra tennis, surf trip, etc..
- Order clothes from your camp outfitter like Camp Spot (remember, although Camp Wekeela is not a “uniform camp” your child will still need a few official camp T-shirts for out-of-camp trips).
- Make transportation plans to and from camp for your camper(s) and for yourselves if you plan on visiting camp!
- Book baggage transport with our camp partner Camp Trucking.
- Make your Visiting Day weekend hotel and flights/rental car, if applicable. Make sure to check-out our places to stay and places to eat
- Sign up for Camp Wekeela’s optional service Wekeela Notes to communicate with your child all summer long! Or buy stamps and stationery and address a few envelopes home – especially for younger campers. Our summer address is: Camp Wekeela, 1750 Bear Pond Road, Hartford, Maine 04220
- Shop, label and pack – we strongly recommend that camp families try to stick to their recommended lists so campers have what they need for their activities and not to overdo it – remember, cubby space is limited.
10 Tips from a veteran camp mom:
- Take your soft trunks out of the attic/basement sooner rather than later to make sure they’re still good with working zippers and no major rips (if they’re not – you’ll still have time to replace).
- Label everything! And send your camper with extra stick on name labels.
- Wash dark colored items (sheets, shirts) before they go to camp.
- Please read the Parent Camper Handbook. Returning camp families and new ones will benefit from reading this important publication!
- Equipment – make sure your camper has everything they need for the sports they’ll play which could include small items like a mouth guard for lacrosse and shin guards for soccer.
- Crazy Creek chair – I’ve found that multi-color or darker color chairs are best for looking cleaner, longer.
- Socks, socks, socks!
- Spirit gear – always fun to have a couple bandannas, fun/long socks in several colors. And, if your camper doesn’t have the “right” color for a special activity or team, oftentimes campers can swap.
- Don’t waste time, money, or space on things campers can’t have. For example, we do not require one-piece bathing suits for girls, bikinis are okay. Same goes for dressy clothing – At Wekeela, we want campers to be casual and comfortably dressed – focused on their activities and not appearances. Of course no cell phones!
- Other “must haves” include: fans, flashlights, sunscreen, bug spray, toiletries and a few fun activities like beads and/or string for making bracelets, Mad Libs, a book or two, and little games like cards, jacks, and pick-up-sticks are good for Rest Hour
The best time of year is almost here. We know our campers can’t wait! Neither can we! Summertime and Camp Wekeela 2019 is almost here!!… Read More
Exciting news! Once again, Goop, a natural health company providing new age advice, has recognized Camp Wekeela as one of the best summer camps in North America. We are privileged and honored. One of the many things that makes Wekeela special is the food we serve. Wekeela serves GREAT FOOD which is made from scratch and served with love! Throughout the year, campers regularly call requesting recipes for our famous granola, hummus, scones, and saying they dream about Wekeela food all winter long. The upcoming summer we have revised our menus and added new exciting meal options.
Under the direction of Chef Carlton Jaquess, our hard-working kitchen crew makes everything we serve: no pre-packaged, heat and eat at Wekeela! Every day we bake bread and build tasty meals. We do our best to see that even the most picky eater always leaves the table fully satisfied. A lot of our fruits and vegetables are naturally organic as they are from locally grown Maine farmers. We take pride in our sustainable sourced ingredients. Take a look at the incredible Camp Wekeela dining hall!
Our summer menu is fresh every week and we encourage our campers to try new foods every meal. Breakfast includes an enormous breakfast bar with fresh fruit such as bananas, fresh Maine blueberries, Chobani Greek yogurt, and Columbo yogurt, hard-boiled eggs, homemade coffee cake, and a variety of cold cereals. We also proudly serve homemade granola and homemade hot steel-cut oatmeal. Campers and staff have a daily choice of fat free milk, lactose-free milk and soy milk, as well as chocolate milk once a week. At lunch and dinner we offer a generous salad bar which everyone loves. It includes items such as edamame, tofu, to name a few as well as an array of fresh vegetables and a variety of Ken’s Steak House dressings. We also offer Sunbutter (a peanut butter taste-alike) with fresh wheat or multi-grain bread. Campers love our juicy hamburgers, Hebrew National kosher hot dogs served on grilled rolls, white meat chicken tenders and golden-brown French fries. Our savory and delicious steak is served weekly. We offer gluten-free and vegetarian options at every meal. Dinner always ends with a fantastic dessert, such as S’more brownies, Wekeela’s infamous cakes, warm chocolate chip cookies, or everyone’s favorite, make your sundaes!
At Wekeela, we love eating our meals family-style. Campers sit at a table with their counselors, who serve the food and lead the conversation, as everyone enjoys the meal together. Some of the best camp friends are made over great food at your table each week! While we eat most of our meals family style, we also enjoy theme meals. These are a fun way to mix up meal time at Wekeela. We tend to go big with decorations, music, costumes, and themed food. Some of the Wekeela favorites are Taco Tuesdays, Gladiator, and Cabaret where counselors dress up and a multi-course dinner is served while campers enjoy a staff talent show. One of the highlights of the summer is our annual Lobster Bake, which is simply a delicious traditional Maine meal with a chill vibe of a night!… Read More
Two options to see your child’s smiling face at camp this summer! We will be posting daily photos on two different servers: Wekeela Photos & Waldo Photos.
In an effort to make your child’s camp experience as easy as possible, we are very excited to offer our brand new photo service, Wekeela Photos. Our own service, Wekeela Photos, is located on our website at https://www.campwekeela.com/photos/ and is free to you. You will be able to view all of the magic of camp and share with your family and friends! The password protected site is a new one-stop-shop for all your camper’s photos.
For the parents that want a little extra convenience and be able to find their child’s picture faster, check out Waldo Photos, the amazing facial recognition software that sends your child’s camp photos right to your phone. Waldo is an optional service that requires a subscription.
You can read about each option below:
- Located on the Wekeela website: https://www.campwekeela.com/photos/.
- Daily photos will be posted and organized by day and week.
- You will have the ability to search for photos by tags of: activities, age groups, and events at camp;
- ex: Middie Girls, Waterfront, Color War, etc.
- You will have the ability to post to social media automatically.
- High Speed downloads.
- High quality photos.
- Post of our daily activities, weather, menu, and more!
- Free for registered parents!
- Password protected. The password is the same as the forms and waivers page for registered parents.
- Waldo provides Optional Facial Recognition Software. Waldo is only available for registered families.
- With Waldo’s exciting and powerful technology, photos of your child will be sent immediately to your phone for instant share and gratification.
- Your account is shareable for up to 6 family members and friends.
- Prices per camper, set by Waldo Photos:
- Full: $59.99; First: $44.99; Second: $34.99; Rookie: $24.99
- 50% of proceeds are donated to camp related charity opportunities.
Text WEKEELA2019 to 735-343 to sign up.… Read More
At Camp Wekeela there is no WiFi in the forest, but we promise you will find a better connection.
When thinking of camp, one typically thinks of roasting marshmallows on a campfire under a beautiful night sky, while sharing stories and laughs. We believe that an experience like this is not only valuable for a child but also a memory that can last a lifetime. One of the best places for these types of memory makers can happen on overnight hiking trips that we offer our campers at Camp Wekeela. We believe that campers of all ages should have the opportunity to get off of the Wekeela campgrounds and onto the beautiful hiking trails of Maine. That’s why Camp Wekeela offers an amazing Tripping Program. It’s led by Sway Guerra, who is returning for his 6th summer in 2019. Sway brings his energy, fun-loving mentality, and leadership to teach our campers about the great outdoors and natural world.
Sway has been an awesome part of the Wekeela family since 2012 and now gets to do what he loves, take campers on hikes every day! “My goal is to return every hiker back to camp safely and in positive space. I want my hikers to take advantage of the fact, that we are in a beautiful part of Maine, during a beautiful time of the year. I want to expand their comfort zone and their appreciation for the outdoors by taking a moment to appreciate the views from the top of the mountain or by stopping in the middle of a trail to enjoy that cool breeze on a hot summer day. I also want to express kindness and positive vibes on my hikes through fun ice breaker and exercises. At the end of each hike we should have taken only memories, and left only footprints.”
The Maine wilderness provides our campers with so many benefits. Spending time outdoors provides: greater confidence, improved creativity and imagination, and reduces stress. There are plenty of trails in the Pine Tree State that are camper-friendly. All of our Wekeela trips are age-appropriate ranging from easy to moderate. At Wekeela, all campers have the opportunity to go on overnight or day trips. We build our schedule to ensure the opportunity for trips 3 times a week. Kids Camp hikes are to places like Moxie Falls. It features one of the most incredible waterfalls in Maine. Other Kids Camp hikes are to: Bald Mountain/Little Concord Pond, Baldpate Mountain, and Mt. Blue just to name a few. Teen campers can climb Mahoosuc Notch, Caribou Mountain, and Step Falls to name a few. Of course, the rite of passage at Camp Wekeela is the hike up our very own Bear Mt, a 45 minute-mile long hike. The campers get to eat lunch at the top of the mountain and wave to their friends across the pond on the Wekeela beach front. The most avid Wekeela hikers are named Bushmasters. They get to explore Small Falls, a wonderful clear-spring fed waterfall and lagoon nestled between two distinct hiking trails. … Read More
Spring is here! It’s time to think about summer 2019. This newsletter is filled with very valuable information, including exciting new programming information for this season.
In this issue, the highlights include: the Performing Arts Department’s 2019 play: SHREK the Musical; highlights of our amazing horseback and tennis programs; our emotional packing list; and finally, the results of our March Challenge- the 2019 College Weekend Teams! Read the Spring Wigwam attached!
This summer, we hope our campers will learn to stretch their boundaries and experience life through the eyes of someone whose life is not a mirror image of their own. By doing so, camp will increase their self-esteem and confidence and foster their independence. The only way children can grow into independent adults is to have parents open the door and let them walk out. And that’s what makes camp a life-changing experience. With the coming of the beautiful weather and the beginning of spring, it’s time to get excited about Wekeela 2019!
A few weeks ago, I got a wonderful (and scary) wake up call from the most unlikely place. Across my iPhone screen on a Sunday night I got a small notification that read, “Your Weekly Screen Time Average was: 12 Hours, 15 minutes.” The number shocked me. I clicked on the notification and it brought me to the reports that show my exact usage per app, per day. Again, I was shocked. Apple moved all my app usage into different categories based on likeness: Social Networking, News, Sports, etc. When this feature was released in October, the memes alone were amazing. The reactions of people, both horrifying and hilarious, shines a light on how much time we waste on our phones and devices. The feature, luckily, lets you also put time-limits on certain apps. For example, I now have a 1 hour time limit on all social networking platforms. How quickly do you think that goes by each day?
You are probably curious as to why I am sharing this story about my own usage though. It brought me back to thinking about one thing I told my Senior campers as they got off the bus at Camp Wekeela a few summers ago. As I had a quick meeting with them to hand over their phones, I said, “this is the last time in your life someone will ever ask you to give up your phone and that you will have to.” I caught myself. What a sad thought. Imagine someone telling you today, “Hand me your phone and you’ll get it back in a few weeks.” It just isn’t realistic. But there is still one place in the world where that reality exists. A place where phones and electronics don’t rule our day-to-day conversations, take us away from the important things we do, or overall, waste our time. That place is summer camp.
At Camp Wekeela, we don’t allow our campers to have their cell phones. Some definitely put up a fight. I had one camper give me a ‘dummy phone’ and hide his phone in our cabin for 2 weeks. I only caught him because he had downloaded a new hit summer song in mid-July and knew all the words the next day. Today, children and teens can’t leave home without their phones, without their parents knowing where they are and what they are doing at all times. Not that the sense of safety that comes with cell phones is all bad, but it’s inescapable. Children need a chance to be kids. How often do you go out to dinner where the children are sitting on an iPad playing a game? Summer camp allows children to get a break from this constant stimulation and slow down. There have been many scientific studies on the effects that technology has on our brains. But developmentally? At Camp Wekeela, we are proud to not allow electronics and cell phones. We believe that a summer at camp is a summer away from social networking and video-games and a time focused on nature, friendships, independence, and fun.… Read More
To all the first time counselors, congratulations you’ve made one of the best decisions you could possibly make … trust me, I made it three years ago. Getting to this point is an achievement in itself, the process isn’t easy, and the list of things to do at times seems endless, but the good times are coming.
As a first time counselor at Camp Wekeela, this summer at camp will mean more to you than you could possibly imagine, not only to you, but to your campers. Now that I am returning to Wekeela for my third year (yay 3 year hoodie), I can offer a little bit of insight into what to expect, but perhaps the most prominent piece of advice I can give is that the experience is entirely yours for the making. Before I arrived for my first summer, I felt I knew a little bit about what to expect. I did my research, watched the camp videos, read countless ‘First time counselor’ forums, and thought I’d established enough of an understanding of what I was walking into. I quickly realized that I really only knew the foundations of what I was set to learned over the seven weeks that followed. So try not to feel overwhelmed on arrival, just be prepared to roll up your sleeves and learn the ropes!
Everyone’s experience varies, but I can say with full of confidence, that there is nothing quite like your first summer. You will have the excitement of discovering for the first time for yourself what it means to be a camp counselor. When the summer is over, there are few days that go you won’t find yourself drifting into your own memories of camp. I often think about the first act of kindness I got from a returning staff member on a chilly June night during Staff Week in 2017. You’ll recall teaching a camper how to paint something that makes them happy in Creative Arts or how you would look down into big hopeful eyes, while trying your best to answer that meaningful question that your camper just asked you. You think of the rainy days that saw you sprint alongside your entire cabin to get to the dining hall only slightly drenched. Or the inimitable feeling of going from strangers to family as you glance around at the faces during the final campfire of the summer; as you feel tears start to slowly flow down your face. But it’s ok because you tell yourself that everything is fine, because you’re coming back. … Read More