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
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!
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
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.
Sleep under the stars. Catch a fish. Learn how to play guitar. Paddle a canoe. Go watersking. Play ball. Make friends. Build a fire. Climb a mountain. Roast a marshmallow. These are just some of the things a child can do at a residential (sleep-away) summer camp. Summer camp builds character. Summer camp breeds affinity with nature. Summer camp forges bonds between children that last a life time. A parent that sends their child to sleep away camp is giving them a gift that will last a lifetime. The child who goes to sleep-away camp makes real connections. At camp, children do not have access to electronics or technology. It gives today’s child an important opportunity to “unplug.” These days, sleep-away summer camp may be the last environment where a child can unplug and have quality face time. Camp teaches a child about responsibility and the importance of meaningful relationships. Sleep-away camp, in particular, is an intense experience because it is 24/7. The sleepaway camp experience has always provided children the opportunity to go outside and play. For the current generation of parents who want to raise self-reliant, compassionate, and ethical children. Summer camp is the best decision. As parents we want our children to become successful adults.… Read More
This summer, millions of children will get their first taste of independence at a summer resident camp. For many, it will also be their first experience with homesickness. But parents don’t have to feel helpless when homesickness strikes. The prescription for camper homesickness is a simple solution of preparation and patience.
Phillips Exeter Academy psychologist Dr. Christopher Thurber studied homesickness in 329 boys between the ages of 8 and 16 at resident camp. According to his results, homesickness is the norm rather than the exception. A whopping 83 percent of the campers studied reported homesickness on at least one day of camp. Thurber and the American Camp Association (ACA) suggest the following tips for parents to help… Read More
Camp is a particularly effective way to teach critical skills; these include character skills (grit, self control and optimism) and “21st Century Skills” (communication, collaboration, creativity, critical thinking and leadership). Regardless if a child attends private or public school the institution’s challenge is to become a leader in innovation. Are these schools fostering innovation? Some education systems put too much focus on testing thus creating a group of children who become disciplined manufacturers, but not entrepreneurs or innovators.
At the inaugural China Camp Education Conference on the 10th of April, 2015, it was revealed that some of the Chinese leadership is looking at new ways to create long term advantage for their population. The Chinese government has reduced homework until the 4th grade and mandated non-academic afterschool programs. The following is important to know …… Read More