Archive for April, 2011
Saturday, April 30th, 2011
So you’ve gotten a great job at a summer camp and are wondering what to do while you impatiently wait for June to get here…
First things first. You found this blog, so we’re assuming you want to know as much as you can before you leave. You’ve come to the right place! We’ve got a few suggestions for you…Actually, a lot. In fact, since we understand that you’ve come to this site to read a blog, not War and Peace, we’re going to have to divide this into a few different parts. But we figure that’s okay because they do it with movies all of the time, right? So without any further delay…
Have you started checking out your camp’s blog as well as this one? Many camps now maintain regular blogs and they frequently post blogs (like this one) intended specifically for staff members.
Check out the camp’s website, if you haven’t about a thousand times already. Even if you visit the website everyday and spend hours staring dreamily at the photos as you imagine images of you having the perfect summer showing up on the site this time next year, dig a little deeper. A camp’s website can also tell you a lot about the very special world that you will be part of this summer. Many camps have FAQ pages for staff members or special staff areas. They give you ideas about what to bring and what to leave at home. Some post sample daily schedules, which are a great way to familiarize yourself with how you will be spending your days. If there are videos on the site (or if the camp sent you one), watch them. Not only will you be ready to leave the same day, but it’s a great way to get to know the camp.
If the camp has Facebook or Twitter pages, join them. They’re another way to keep up to date on what’s happening and, as summer inches closer, the anticipation that builds is infectious. Many camps also post helpful information or instructions for staff members as summer nears. Facebook and Twitter are great ways to connect with other staff members before you get to camp. Not to worry, though. You’ll make PLENTY of new friends during your Orientation, even if you show up knowing no one!
Prepare to work hard. We won’t lie. Camp is one of the hardest jobs you’ll ever have. It’s also one that you’ll probably love the most. Every second of every day, SOMETHING is happening at camp. It’s all a lot to take in at first, but the chances of you making it through the last day at camp without shedding a single tear and hugging hundreds of people are pretty much nil-to-none. And you’ll probably be making plans to come back next summer before this one’s even over.
Well, like we said, we’re well aware that if you were looking for a novel, you’d be downloading the latest best seller for you Kindle right now. So we’ll call it a day for this blog. Be sure to tune in next time for advice about what to pack (and not) and some tips for orientation.
Thursday, April 21st, 2011
Anyone would feel a tremendous sense of accomplishment after scaling a forty foot wall and then whizzing down a zip line or perhaps, while attached to a harness of course, taking a giant leap of faith off a perch with a great view. But when the person is under the age of sixteen, the feeling is unmatched. This is the sense of elation that camp adventure programs bring to campers every summer. Adventure is one of the most popular programs at camp. But what’s the point of all that climbing, jumping, and zipping around you ask?
For starters, high and low ropes courses have been used for some time now as team building event, probably the most commonly known reason for their usage. In the case of a high ropes course, which is often at least thirty feet above ground and is sometimes as high as fifty, courage is one of the first words that comes to mind. Quite simply put, it takes a lot of courage to shimmy up a ladder or patiently work your way trial and error up a climbing wall and then attempt to maneuver across beams or rope of miniscule width with the ground looming below, even if one is safely secured to a harness and cables and spotted by trained professionals. Trust is really what high ropes courses are all about. A high ropes course challenges campers’ comfort levels and forces them to put trust in their fellow campers and camp staff, who also share in the inevitable sense of pride after successfully finishing a challenge.
Low ropes courses, on the other hand, encourage team building. They feature such elements as webbed rope nets, trust falls and activities that challenge participants to get their entire team between platforms by building a bridge, or to move from wide cables to narrow ones. More specifically, at camp, low ropes provide a great way for campers to bond with one another and encourage cabins to work together as a unit.
Nature programs also often compliment outdoor programs by helping campers reconnect with nature and understand the importance of preserving the environment. Fishing is another part of many outdoor adventure programs. While fishing is a perfect relaxing social opportunity, it’s also a great way of increasing children’s patience level.
So it’s no wonder that these outdoor adventure programs are not popular merely for the lofty challenges that they provide, but for the thrill and sense of pride campers feel for having had the courage to accept and achieve them.
Thursday, April 14th, 2011
We could talk about the benefits of camp from now ’till the end of the summer.
But this month we’ll let the American Camp Association (ACA) do it for us.
Recently the ACA – an organization that educates leaders, ensures camp safety and accredits over 2,400 camps – created a short video. It ran in movie theaters across the country. Watch the video below:
In it, a number of celebrities highlighted their own camp experiences. Movie-goers learned that, because of camp…
- Emma Roberts made lasting friendships with people she still keeps in touch with.
- Hill Harper learned about self-esteem.
- Lisa Loeb plays guitar.
- Ashlan Gorse developed a personality. (Hey, that’s what she said.)
- Lisa Raye turned out just fine.
- And because of camp, actor Justin Chambers is sending his own kids to camp this summer.
For over a century, millions of other people have also been positively impacted by camp. For some, camp helped unearth a skill they never knew they had. Or fired a passion that is now their life’s work.
For others, camp built a lifetime of memories. Or introduced them to one lifelong friend.
Camp is many things to many people. It is what you make it – and what young peers and caring adults help you to be.
Because of camp, I am who I am today. And because of camp, I welcome you to join me in a summer experience that lasts forever.
Can’t wait to see you this summer.
Camp Laurel South
Monday, April 11th, 2011
One of the biggest challenges of summer camp is also one of its greatest aspects, spending lots of time in the sunny outdoors. Indeed, time in the sun is an important aspect of maintaining good health. The sun is a source of vitamin D, which has been linked to happiness. However, over-exposure to the sun’s rays can be harmful, as nearly everyone knows. So taking appropriate measures to reduce risks is essential.
Summer camp professionals are extremely aware that proper sun care goes beyond the frequent application of sunscreen. Many of them are parents themselves whose first priority is the safety of their campers, and they work very hard to incorporate sun-care tips, such as those offered by Sunwise, an organization established by the Environmental Protection Agency in 2000 to help those who work with children, into their daily routines.
Staff and campers are instructed to apply sunscreen frequently. Almost all camps either supply sunscreen or require campers to bring it with them and encourage re-application between activities throughout the day. Many camps place large containers of sunscreen throughout campus, so that it can be easily accessed and reapplied throughout the day. The staff is required to insure that both themselves and their campers regularly use sunscreen.
Camps take measure to insure that children wear proper clothing. Campers receive proper dress instructions daily. Counselors supervise to make sure each child dresses appropriately for the day’s weather and activities. Daily weather-appropriate instructions such as reminders about sunscreen application and instructions to drink plenty of water are also typically given during a camp’s morning announcements.
Camp programs naturally incorporate a mix of outdoor and indoor activities in order to balance the amount of time one spends in the sun with time in the shade. While summer camp is about reconnecting with nature and a natural environment, campers also spend ample amount of time indoors so as not to be overexposed or at risk.
Extra precautionary measures are also taken when necessary. With an increasing emphasis on helping campers develop lifelong healthy habits, camps are increasingly choosing to train their staffs in proper suncare.
Vitamin D intake is optimized through diet. Camp menus are carefully planned to optimize nutritional value for campers. Health and fitness have risen to the forefront of the camping industry in recent years. Naturally rich in vitamin D foods such as milk, eggs, yogurt, and oatmeal daily are typically available daily at breakfast. Other foods high in Vitamin D, such as tuna and mushrooms, are also offered on lunch and dinner salad bars.
Teaching children and the people who take care of them proper measures for protecting oneself against overexposure to the sun is a critical element in the promotion of good health that many camps now embrace. It not only helps protect children at camp but could help them for life. A study by the American Camp Association established that habits formed at summer camp are continued by more than 60% of campers once they return home.
For more information about proper suncare, you can visit the Sunwise website at www.epa.gov/sunwise/index.html.
Friday, April 1st, 2011
Almost every camper will name the Camp Laurel South Waterfront as one of the best parts of camp. Camp Laurel South is situated on a crystal-clear, spring-fed lake…measuring 9 miles around. Yes – 9 miles!!
The Camp Laurel South Waterfront plays a crucial role during the summer, not only as a place for swimming, sailing, kayaking, waterskiing, crew, fishing, bumper-tubing, and snorkeling, but as a gathering place and perfect backdrop for special event and outdoor evening activities. Learning to swim at camp is a rite of passage. Perfecting swim skills provides a great foundation for building camp memories of sunny days spent at the waterfront.
Of course, there are the much acclaimed physical and mental benefits of learning to swim that we all know. It’s a great low impact exercise suitable for almost everyone, which makes it an ideal part of a regular fitness regime. It’s also not age-restrictive. Rather, it’s an activity that can be enjoyed for a lifetime. The fact that muscle strength is also greatly improved as a result of pushing oneself through the water goes without saying.
Swimming also improves coordination and emotional well being. The relaxing atmosphere of a hard-bottom lake provides the perfect setting for children to let down their guard and enjoy the type of casual conversation that builds and strengthens friendships. When combined with the sheer fun of the activity, it’s the perfect setting for building memories.
Camp waterfront locations are extremely active and full of almost endless possibilities for camper experiences. Camp Laurel South has more than 60 boats: Mastercrafts Pro Start 197 Championship Ski Boats, Hobie Cats, Sunfish, Lasers, Fishing Pontoon Boats, Canoes, Kayaks, and more! The waterfront staff is well-trained with certified lifeguards who complete an extensive and rigorous training program prior to the start of camp.
Camps also incorporate their waterfront areas into their special event planning. Water games and pirate-themed treasure hunts are just a couple of ways that water play is used creatively in camp programs.
Swimming at camp takes on a new level of excitement when included in camp activities, such as Spirit Days, that give campers the opportunity to use their swimming skills to rise to a challenge. Camp Laurel South swimmers also compete in swim meets through inter-camp leagues. Whether racing against other campers or a time clock, being able to apply their swimming instruction in an engaging way and seeing firsthand how they’ve improved has been a moment of pride for many a camper.
And don’t forget about the famous Maine Lakes Cup – a 14 camp sailing regatta hosted by the winning camp each summer.
So the next time your child regales you with tales of the waterfront at his or her summer camp, remember that it’s not just summer memories that they’re gaining from their swimming experiences, but lifelong skills.