WE DID IT – Camp Wekeela for Boys & Girls 2020
One of the challenges of opening camp this past summer was not knowing if we could create the sense of magic that is Wekeela. We knew it would be a challenge with our COVID-19 Response Plan restrictions. The summer of 2020 was an incredibly ambitious one but thanks to our amazing and dedicated staff, and our wonderful campers, we rose to the occasion and made it happen. We are so grateful to our parents who had the confidence and faith in us to open. Thank you for taking the risk along with us. It was an exceptional and extraordinary journey. Your children are resilient and are amazing. Our parents knew their children needed camp this summer more than ever. Summer camp has provided children opportunities for social and emotional development, such as independent decision-making and self-reliance, environmental conservation and stewardship, and principled and ethical participation in communities. For our fantastic counselors, their first substantial job was an incredible opportunity where they had real responsibility and another crucial step on the road to a productive adulthood. This summer all our staff were superheroes!
We can all agree that summertime goes way too fast. John Mayer sings in his song, ‘Wildfire’ “Cause a little bit of summer’s what the whole year is all about.” That song always reminds me of summer camp. It is a perfect metaphor for why it was so important to go through all the measures in order to open our sleepaway camp. Lori and I have never backed down from a challenge our entire lives. We knew we needed to be directors in the great times and in the challenging times. We were faced with a daunting task and serious decision making and we did not get intimidated; we got to work!
Reflecting on our summer 2020 season, we noticed the indirect toll that months of isolation and social distancing left on some of the kids socially and physically. Hopefully time spent at Wekeela helped with this. Now that your child is home from camp, you may need to deal with their “campsickness” (see below). We implore parents to speak with your children about what’s been going on since they’ve been away. Let your child know the following:
v They will need to wear masks.
v The start of the school year may or has been delayed. It may be remote learning or a hybrid of being in class and being at home.
v As adults, we may get anxious. If so, remember your child may get anxious as well. Manage the uncertainty of what’s going on accordingly and wisely.
Camp has structure by design. Children need routines and they are accustomed to it. We have given your children great structure to their days, and we hope they are able to bring some of that home with them. We sent the children home with email and contact information for camp friends. Try to encourage virtual get together with their bunk mates!
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. As we say at Wekeela, sleep is cool!
v Encourage your child to talk about camp and share stories. Ask open-ended questions about camp.
v Have them teach you a camp song or game.
v Use the photos on Waldo and the camp’s website to spur conversation and help them remember their wonderful summer here. Print some photos and make a collage or album with camp memories.
v Help your child make plans for a visit or reunion with camp friends when it is safe to do so (or a video chat if that’s all that works).
v 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, is a great life skill.
v Have a “campfire” in your backyard and roast a s’more.
v Talk about camp plans and start a count-down calendar to next summer!
v 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.
In summation, this past summer, our camp community didn’t take any time at camp for granted. We hope they enjoyed every minute of the Wekeela summer camp experience more than ever. Campers were able to explore who they were, learn new things, work on their social interactions, and build their self-confidence, self-worth and self-esteem. This summer, after four months of being quarantined, it was critical that children had the opportunity to foster their independence. We thank our parents, their children and our staff for taking risks, for believing in our mission, and for allowing us to provide our campers with much needed normalcy in these uncertain times. We look forward to summer 2021, the 99th season of summer camp on the shores of Little Bear Pond and our 25th year with Wekeela!
Have a safe, healthy, and fun rest of the summer. Have a safe, healthy, and fun rest of the summer and no matter how challenging the upcoming school year may be for your child, let them know they now have the inspiration and resiliency to make it a successful year.
So Much Love,
The Camp Wekeela Family