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Greetings from Camp!

Greetings from Camp Wekeela and the beautiful state of Maine. Staff have begun to arrive on the shores of Little Bear Pond. Soon we will begin our annual staff orientation, development and education week. Staff Week is the preparation and anticipation for the arrival of our Wekeela campers are filled with anticipation, excitement, discovery and all kinds of activity. Our goals during orientation are simple: we want our staff to feel comfortable with camp and prepare them to do the best job possible.

A Camp Wekeela counselor, will participate in the art of giving. As champions, they will fight for and defend the campers’ rights to benefit, learn, and enjoy this rite of passage – the camp experience. At Wekeela, Once you are empowered with camp culture, skills, and knowledge, you will be motivated to lead your campers through an unforgettable experience which will forever change their lives. Our staff are shaping and influencing lives. What we do and say will impact the values of our campers; handle that responsibility with care, and be intentional. Our staff has the privilege to mold emerging humanity, to share purpose and place in one’s world.

Staff Week sets the tone for the summer. Our staff has an incredible opportunity to teach kids, help grow their love for the outdoors, and to be role models. Parents, while very excited for their campers, are trusting us to keep their most prized possessions safe. The two most valuable gifts we can give our campers are safety and your time. And, yes, it is a huge responsibility! We tell our staff, you will never regret sitting down to talk with campers, joining in their games, or teaching them a new song.

Wekeela is a place where staff are heard, appreciated, cherished, and empowered. Our Staff Week is a place where an incredbly giving and talented group of young adults meet for the first time and form life-long friendships. Wekeela is proud to have such a high number of returning staff and former-campers year after year. These relationships start at camp and are carried through every day. Today, we tell our staff, the more energy, time, and love you put into being a great camp counselor, the more you’ll get out of it.

This summer our staff has an incredible opportunity to teach children, help grow their love for the outdoors, and be a positive role model. Parents, while very excited for their campers, are trusting us to keep their most prized possessions safe. The two most valuable gifts we can give your campers are safety and our time. And, yes, it is arguably the biggest responsibility our staff will ever have until they have children of their own. You will never regret sitting down to talk with campers, joining in their games, or teaching them a new song. I will always remember how special I felt to know how much my counselors cared about me. And trust me, those memories will never go away. Our staff have an opportunity to make a difference with every kid who comes through the gates of our camp. Hopefully, one day our campers will pay it forward too.

As our campers and staff look forward to the beginning of Camp, please know our staff, are always available to ask for help when you need it.

Here’s to a summer filled with great memories!!… Read More

Jonathan Caflun in Camp News June 6, 2018

Mother’s Day Meaning

May is an exciting time for Camp people of all ages. Campers and parents can feel the school year winding down and are excited for the upcoming summer. Camp staff are getting ready to complete their collegiate studies and go on a much needed break before they head to Maine and Wekeela. Camp Directors are continuing to collect all the important paperwork from camp families and making last minute arrangements in preparations for a successful season. If you live in a cold climate, during the winter, May brings us the long awaited springtime and flowers. In mid-May we celebrate all mothers. So it may be a few weeks early but I would like to wish a very Happy Mother’s Day to my amazing wife Lori, and all the moms past and present in the Wekeela community. Thank you for all the love you’ve shared and the lives you have touched. And now a message from Lori who gets to play Wekeela mom …

I always tell my friends and family that I am the luckiest person on Earth.  I am so blessed to wake up every day with a purpose so deep and so inspiring. To me, it is my passion to make the world a better place for children. It is my miss​i​on to help bring joy to children and give them a special place to call their summer  home. Being a mother is my most important and proudest job. Like most mothers, I would walk to the ends of the earth for my three sons. Imagine knowing I would walk that same perimeter for my campers. I sometimes am overwhelmed at the notion that hundreds of children come through our gates at Wekeela and find a haven of love and warmth like no other. Only camp people get that notion.… Read More

Jonathan Caflun in Camp News May 3, 2018

Just Getting Started…

Seniors 2016!

Most children begin their summer camp journey at around eight years old. I started at twenty one months old. It was not my choice, of course. In 1997, my dad was offered the opportunity of a lifetime to work at a summer camp. My mom and I along with my two month old little brother went along for the ride. Little did we know that that summer would transform all of our lives. Twenty two summers later, Camp Wekeela has not only been my second home but a place that has given me a sense of purpose, amazing role models, a second family, a cultured, diverse sense of the world and best friends. Each summer spent at Camp Wekeela taught me new skills and life lessons; whether it was how to build a fire, how to dance without caring what others thought, or how to comfort a child in distress. Camp Wekeela was a catalyst for many amazing changes over the ten years I spent as a camper and seven years as a counselor.

Downtown NOLA with the 2017 LITs

When I had to face the uncertainty of post-graduation employment last spring, at the end of my senior year at Boston University, my decision was an easy one. With a degree in hospitality management and the experience working for a hotel my entire senior year, I pondered what was next for me. I did what everyone else was doing; I blindly applied to hotels and other venues related to my field of study. I went to information sessions. I went on interviews. But my heart was never really into those applications or info sessions or interviews. I knew that I wanted to live my dream of working for Wekeela. I had already planned to return that summer to run our Leaders In Training program with my kids- kids I had been with for 6 years now. Read More

Jonathan Caflun in Camp News April 2, 2018

Generation Z Goes To Sleepaway Summer Camp – Lifelong Friendships and 21st Century Skills

Today’s young adults born after 1995, known as Generation Z (also known as the Centennial generation), are the most educated in American history and – like my generation of baby boomers – one of the largest.

Yet, Gen Z kids have grown up in an age of instant gratification: smartphones ​that are not making us very smart I may say, ​ and social media that is not enabling us to be very social but I digress. We live in a highly tech world. One that provides immediate access to data at their fingertips, and frankly, too much information and stimulation. The children that are on social media have hundreds if not thousands of Facebook​, Twitter​,​ ​Instagram, SnapChat “friends,” but often few real connections.

Children who go to sleep-away camp make real connections. Summer camp gives kids the tools they don’t get during the school year. Sleepaway camp may be the last place a child can have quality face-time. According to Wendy Mogel, Ph D, who wrote the best-selling The Blessing of a Skinned Knee, “Parents today find it harder than ever to uphold their own values within their families when they seem so at odds with those of our current culture. We seek security in a society that seems more and more dangerous, grace that thrives on competition, and gratitude in an age of ever-increasing materialism. How can this generation of parents raise self-reliant, compassionate, and ethical children?” The answer is summer camp, where kids get to go outside and play.… Read More

Your 7-10 Year Old May Ready for Camp … Even If You Aren’t!

by Ephram Caflun

 

As a camp director I sometimes encounter parents of younger children who insist their child is “not ready” for sleep-away camp. But after discussing a bit more, it becomes apparent that the child is actually good to go, and that it’s really just the parent(s) who is not ready to have their baby leave the nest.

Now, it’s definitely our job as parents to seek the best for our children. But, it doesn’t mean that a parent needs to be the sole, direct controller of that growth. Think back to their first day of school. For some of us as parents, it was challenging to drop them off at the schoolhouse door or put them on the bus that first time, but we knew that we had to, because it was critical for their academic development.

Biologically and emotionally, it’s generally easier for a 7-10 year-old to have a first-time camp experience than it is for a 10-13 year-old. But often parents wait until their child is 10-13 because the parents feel more comfortable then. Sometimes it’s because the parent worries that their child might miss them or miss home. Sometimes it’s because the parent worries that their child won’t take care of themselves properly – that they’re somehow incapable or can’t do things on their own. Sometimes it’s because the child worries that the parent will be worried!

Read More

Jonathan Caflun in Camp News February 7, 2018

HAPPY NEW YEAR PIONEERS! New Year’s Resolutions From Camp Wekeea!

Happy New Year Pioneers! There is so much excitement in-store for Wekeela 2018! We spend so many long hours and days planning, discussing, and enhancing every aspect of Wekeela to give our campers the best experience possible. While the East Coast of the United States is under a snowy-white blanket for the next few days, (Camp Wekeela is expected to get 12+ inches of snow!) we know that the warm days of summer are only a few short months away! The new Fitness Center project is well underway, as well as many other exciting projects to make Wekeela physically better and allows our expanding programming to offer more activities for our campers.… Read More

Jonathan Caflun in Camp News January 4, 2018

The Warmest Time of the Year- Happy Holidays from Camp Wekeela!

Is the holiday season the warmest time of the year? Temperature-wise, here in the Northeast, not really. We prefer summer time for the warmth, but when it comes to family, friends, giving, love, and food, the holiday season definitely heats up. “The most wonderful time of the year” makes people happy, and as camp people we also like to think ahead to our time spent at camp.

One of the main reasons I love this time of the year can be explained by the family holiday card. We all get them from our relatives, our neighbors, etc. But the ones that truly make me feel special are from my camper’s families, and our staff. These cards welcome us into their lives giving us a glimpse at what makes them happy during the holiday season- family, their dog, their kids. That is what camp is all about; it is an extended family, one that expands across the world.

The lessons that camp teaches are universal; the power ofkindness, of creativity, of laughter, of joy, of silliness. Camp gives campers and staff the experiences and memories that will be with them forever. Yet in between these moments and memories, we learn the power of resiliency and the power of having real face-time, something that is often missing in today’s world.

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Jonathan Caflun in Camp News December 8, 2017
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