Archive for March, 2012

Camp Senses

Friday, March 30th, 2012

The unseasonably warm and pleasant weather seems to be bringing on summer faster.  The flowers are blooming, the birds are back, and the days are sunny. It’s hard not to take advantage of the opportunity to prematurely engage in all of one’s favorite summer activities a little bit.  The other day, my sisters and I caved.  We decided to rally my niece, go to the park and, yes, even though three of the four us fully qualify as grownups, play on the playground.  I’m convinced that no matter how old one gets, no one ever gets tired of swings.  It turns out that we weren’t the only ones with such an idea.  The place was packed, children and adults everywhere.  The park had even opened up the boating dock, something that they usually don’t do until Memorial Day Weekend.  People were out on the lake in rowboats and paddle boats.  They were picnicking.  They rode by on bicycles, skates and skateboards.  The comforting familiar smell of campfire from the nearby campground even permeated the air.   It was as if 2012 had transposed May and March.  My niece and I managed to score the last two remaining swings while my sisters preoccupied themselves on the monkey bars.

My niece and I have this game we play.  We see who can swing the highest.  The little boy between us apparently thought our game looked fun because he joined in.  As we slowed down for a bit after tiring ourselves out, he started a conversation.  I think he actually wanted to talk to my niece but decided I’d make a good mediator—at least in the beginning.   His name was Hunter.  What is her name?  Angelica.  How old is she?  She is six.  Same as me, he said.  What grade in she in?  First.  Same as me, he said again.  He jabbered on.  His dad had told him that if he was good they might rent a paddle boat later.  Maybe Angelica could come on the paddle boat with him.  He wished the concession stand was open so he could get ice cream.  Earlier in the day he’d gone to his swimming lesson at the JCC.  Then his mom signed him up for camp there this summer. I perked up.  Every now and then, chance throws a writer a bone and you have to grab it and run with it. Camp, huh? Do you stay overnight at this camp?  No, I’m not old enough.  I didn’t tell him that I already knew this.  The minimum age for most overnight camps is seven.  Is this your first time at the camp?  Yes, my sister went last year.  She said it’s really fun.  What do you think will be the most fun?  Ummm…I don’t know.  I don’t really know what we do there.  I bet you swim there.  Yeah, I think we do.  I worked at a camp.  You did?  Yep.  Only everyone stayed overnight at my camp.  His eyes grew.  They did? Yep.  I think I would like to do that someday.  Was it fun?  Yep.  What was it like there?  I looked around at the bicycles and the boats.  I took in the smell of campfire in the air and listened to the sound of all of the children playing and laughing.  It’s a lot like this.  I think I would like that, he said.  Hunter had no idea that he made my day and helped me out a lot by literally handing me material for a camp blog.  I hope he has fun at the JCC camp this year…and that he makes it to overnight camp someday.  If you haven’t thought about sending your children to camp, take a trip to your local park on a nice spring day.  Your senses just may help the decision become clear.

Working at Summer Camp is Like…Watching YouTube

Monday, March 26th, 2012

Have you ever done this?  Gone to YouTube in search of a specific video, you know exactly what you want and why you want it—or so you think.  After you find it, you are drawn to the videos on the sidebar.  You’re intrigued by some of them and begin clicking through to them.  Some of the videos are mildly amusing.  Some of them you don’t really love.  Sometimes they even make you tear up a little, while others still have you laughing days — even weeks — later.  At some point you start reading the comments, too.  You’re hooked now.  You realize that you’ve already become much more involved than you intended, a lot of time has passed, but you’re now invested.  You’re on a mission.  It may not even be related to the reason you originally typed in the URL.  But you know that you’ve found something that interests you.  You find other videos mentioned in some of the comments and begin doing searches for those.  Inevitably, you eventually find that special series of videos that you could watch forever if time were of no consequence.  And you leave satisfied.

Working at summer camp is like that visit to YouTube.  For most people, the intentions start small.  They need a summer job…it sounds interesting…and they want to do something fun.  During an internet search, they come across a few websites advertising camp jobs.  The photos look awesome.  Sometimes they had a friend who worked at a camp who recommended the experience.  Others were campers themselves.  Whatever the reason, for many, it starts out as just a summer job.  Maybe they’re majoring in education and want to gain some experience for their resume or are looking for an alternative to the traditional internship.  Then they get to camp and the experience starts to grow.  It’s chaotic.  The action only stops for sleep at night.  Most days are awesome.  Some are challenging.   Still, others are the kind of which lifelong memories are made.  They start to realize that there is so much more to working at summer camp than they originally thought.  They become engulfed in the experience–their campers, fellow staff members, and the spirits and traditions of the camp.  They want to get everything out of it that they possibly can.  Before they know it, the summer is over—and they leave wishing that summer could go on forever. hiring right now!

Camp Starlight is hiring now!  So instead of going to YouTube after reading this, log on to their website for further information.

Try Something New This Summer!

Saturday, March 10th, 2012

It’s afternoon at Camp Starlight.  Some campers are busy with the usual summer camp fare-arts and crafts, soccer, roller hockey, theater, etc–others are learning how give back through the new Community Service program.

Everyone knows about the traditional fun stuff that summer camp offers—but more and more, non traditional activities are gaining popularity with campers. No doubt, summer camp is a world steeped in tradition, but it’s also a world of innovation, offering children a chance to think outside the box and reach beyond the everyday through their imaginations.  At summer camp, children can be magicians, ga-ga pros, robot enthusiasts, rocket makers and aspiring chefs.  The summer camp environment no doubt contributes to the ability of campers to try new activities.  After all, part of the “spirit” of summer camp, as reported by the American Camp Association, is “play”.  Camp is the perfect place for children to place themselves in new situations without feeling threatened or judged.  Maybe this is why so many campers have reported first trying an activity that eventually became a passion at summer camp.

The fact that summer camps have the resources to offer new, exciting activities to children is another benefit.  Constructing a ga-ga pit in the backyard or a lab for building robots can be costly.  But at summer camp, such programs allow many children the benefit of being able to explore new areas.  So this summer, be sure to encourage your children to try something new.