Gratitude is such an important pillar of our camp environment. One of our favorite things to do during staff week each summer is our “Gratitude Letters” activity. It is pretty simple exercise, derived from the popular Youtube video “The Science of Happiness“. We ask our staff to take a blank piece of paper and write a letter of gratitude to anyone in their life: their parent, a friend, a teacher, etc. We ask if anyone would like to share. The letters are always beautiful and give a glimpse into the life of our staff, where they come from, and who helped them get to where they are. There are beautiful stories of grandparents who inspire, parents who lead, friends who encourage, and so on. As those who share express their gratitude, their eyes tear up, and they smile. It is very moving. Naturally, because we are at camp, what usually ends up happening is that our returning staff and former campers write about camp. They share letters to their own counselors from when they were campers, or to their co-counselors, who have now become their best friends. The most powerful, as you would think, is when that person is in the room. The tears can flow and hugs are always exchanged. You could think this isn’t a very good training exercise, but we feel it is a great way for our staff to get to know each other, laugh, and bond. At Camp Wekeela we feel it’s important to cultivate gratitude during the summer and throughout the year.
Here are some ways to cultivate gratitude on a regular basis:
- Write a thank-you note/letter: Just like our exercise at camp! What will make you feel even better.. sharing your note with the person.
- Thank someone mentally: No time to write? It may help just to think about someone who has done something nice for you, and mentally thank the individual.
- Keep a gratitude journal: It takes 21 days to cultivate a habit. Writing down 3 things a day is a great way to start!
- Do Rituals as a family: Pick a high-point of the day, do some MadLibs, make up a line-by-line story. It’ll be great!
- Meditate: Meditation has so many positive effects, especially in today’s busy world.
It is officially that time of year again; time to put on your corduroys, grab a Pumpkin Spiced Latte, and jump in some leaves! We hope the turn to the autumn season finds the Camp Wekeela community well.
Here in New Jersey, we have always felt that we are fortunate to have seasons. It’s a perfect opportunity for us to recharge and regroup. Fall is a time to celebrate our summer successes. It’s a time to invigorate and align ourselves to the cycle of preparing for summer 2019 where we will develop healthy, happy, and confident children.
Below are the Camp Wekeela 5 Tips for Enjoying Fall as a family!
- Go to a Farmer’s Market.
Staples of the fall and early winter, farmer’s markets are wonderful places to support your local community, try new foods, and meet new people. Going as a family can be great on a Sunday morning to get out of the house and enjoy the weather, have some good food, and have fun!… Read More
There are certain words, phrases, or lyrics that bring powerful memories into focus.
Any camp that has a Color War contest has their own traditions and histories, rules and regulations about Color War. At Camp Wekeela, Color War is one of, if not the best, parts of the summer. For 4 days our campers and counselors pour their hearts onto the fields, courts, water, stage, and everything else to gain valuable points for their team. Every camper and every counselor has an impact. They scream and cheer, paint their face in Green or White, and compete at the highest levels.
But every game, activity, and cheer leads up to Sing on the last day. At Sing, the banners, programs, and totem poles are revealed; the commercials and dances are performed; the poem is read, the photos are hung up, and of course, the Fight Songs, Cheers, and Alma Maters are sung. Now just reading this blog you may think, well what do these entail? If you haven’t been to any camp but especially Camp Wekeela before, describing Color War is a very tall task. For 3 days, Counselors work hours on end to give the kids the best banner, totem pole, song, etc. that they can. No prior work, they are given a blank canvas, a chopped down tree, or just a guitar and get started. Having worked on several of these myself, it is a daunting process and something that is hard to describe; however, the central ethos to why the hard work is done- why you are awake at 4am carving a tree- is to give the campers something to remember, something to enjoy for years.
In my opinion, however, the Color War Alma Mater is one of the most special. The Alma Mater is a song that “represents all core components of the team.” Traditionally at many camps, an Alma Mater is a re-write of a popular song, for example, when Ephram was a Color War General in the 80’s, his Alma Mater was a version of “Open Arms” by Journey. However, at Camp Wekeela, the Alma Mater is an original song that is written during Color War by a few counselors and sometimes campers.… Read More
In an incredibly exciting announcement today, Camp Wekeela is proud and honored to have been rated #9 most allergy-friendly summer camp for children in the United States by Spokin. In the annual ratings of allergy-friendly summer camps, Spokin has decided that Camp Wekeela stands above other camps in the treatment of campers with food related allergies and diets, including Dairy-free, Nut-free, Gluten-free, soy-free, and vegetarian and vegan options for campers and staff. Spokin, the world’s number 1 allergy, recommends Camp Wekeela as the only Maine camp on their rankings as well. Allergy-needs have risen in recent years and Camp Wekeela is proud to offer options to our campers and staff with different food allergies.
To learn more about Spokin’s rankings, you can read the list here: https://www.spokin.com/food-allergy-friendly-summer-overnight-camps… Read More
It’s that time of year, from kindergarten to college, kids are heading back to school. Here’s what you need to know about keeping your family healthy.
Focus on nutrition & exercise:
- Start the day right with a healthy breakfast and continue the day with healthy snacks.
- Avoid added sugar that will lead your child to crash during the school day.
- Enroll kids in after school activities where possible, enjoy a walk or bike ride with your kids whenever possible, and encourage them to move. If parents engage in physical activity, their kids will follow along.
- Stay hydrated and drink lots of water throughout the school day!
Know the risks children can face:
- Talk about bullying and school related stress & anxiety before school starts.
- Check for head lice before and after the first day of school.
- Get a health screening before going back to school.
- Have vision and hearing checked.
- Make sure backpacks fit well and aren’t too heavy.
Make sleep a priority
- Power down electronics one hour before bedtime.
- Keep electronics out of bedrooms.
- Avoid exercise and warm showers before bedtime.
- Have a routine, go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day!
To our former campers and Junior Counselors starting their senior year of high school, don’t stress out. Yes, you should continue to work hard, but make sure to enjoy your senior year because a year from now you’ll be on your way to college. That being said, to our former campers heading to college, we wish you all the best of luck. Set your goals, work hard to achieve them, and all of your dreams will come true.
Wishing our campers a great rest of the summer and a fantastic start of the school year! And keep those campfires burning; Camp Wekeela, starts June 22, 2019!! … Read More
DEFINITION: Campsick adjective / ‘kamp-,sik/The opposite of homesick (medically, you’re not actually ill). Intense longing to be back at summer camp.
SYMPTOMS: Afflicted persons may show a variety of symptoms, including melancholy, reminisce, and attempts to incorporate camp culture into “real world” life.
This diagnosis is all too real. Now that summer Twenty-Eighteen is complete, we are here to help children and their parents make the smooth transition from Camp Wekeela to home.
Here are some tips to help ease the re-entry home if you have an out-of-sorts or “campsick” camper:
- Let your child rest! Camp is such a busy, active time and campers need lots of rest after they get home. Make sure they don’t have much on their schedule when they return and let them have several days to “chill” and get caught up on sleep. Many emotional and behavioral issues can be solved by a good night’s sleep.
- Encourage your child to talk about camp and share stories. Ask open-ended questions about camp (if they seem open to your inquiries).
- Have them teach you a camp song or game.
- Use the photos on Waldo and the camp’s website to spur conversation and help them remember. Print some photos and make a collage or album with camp memories.
- Encourage your camper to keep in touch with camp friends. Some campers like to write “real” letters to each other to keep the communication “campy.” Phone calls and video chats are also a great way to continue the more “face-to-face” connections they made at camp.
- Help your child make plans for a visit or reunion with camp friends (or a video chat if that’s all that works).
- Suggest your camper write a thank you note to a counselor at camp who made their stay especially fun. Doing something kind for someone else, like writing a thank you note, will make your camper feel happier.
- Have a “campfire” in your backyard and roast a s’more.
- Plan and do a family outdoor activity together.
- Kids and their parents all have transitions – both as camp begins, and as it ends. A positive adjustment back home means kids not only stay connected to camp friends, but also display skills and values for a lifetime.
- Talk about camp plans and start a count-down calendar to next summer!
We have started working on Wekeela 2019. It will be Ephram and Lori’s 23rd year! Camp Wekeela is only ten months away. So keep those campfires burning; Camp Wekeela, starts June 22, 2019!!… Read More
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
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 mission 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
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.
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
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