One thing that isn’t entirely evident to people who’ve only recently begun to familiarize themselves with the world of summer camp is the level of connection that it provides, not just to a regional network of people, but to those from different states and even countries. The campers and staff members that make up America’s Finest Summer Camps come from all parts of the globe to bring together a multitude of cultures. According to Fransec Pedro, analyst for the Center for Research and Information with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, global awareness and effective communication across cultures are essential in today’s international economy. Exposure to many different cultures provides campers and staff members with experiences throughout the summer that ultimately help them learn and integrate these skills into their lives.
The challenges that are sometimes involved in effective communication across cultures help campers at America’s Finest Summer Camps learn how to express themselves efficiently. When exposed to multiple cultures, it’s not only important to use language resourcefully in order to express oneself but to be a good listener. Understanding that people have various ways of thinking, express themselves differently, and that those differences sometimes affect our world view is no longer a novel skill but a requirement for success in today’s world. “Students need to graduate from high school not only workforce-ready and college-ready, but they also need to be globally competent,” says Alexis Menten, Assistant Director of the Asia Society.
Inevitably, there are sometimes mis-communications but such stumbles are part of a learning process that, like other skills, requires practice. Connecting with people from all over the globe helps children understand that the world reaches beyond their immediate surroundings. In the process, they learn to think internationally when building their social networks. This often leads to opportunities that they may not have otherwise have had. For many a summer camp staff member or camper, the process of learning how to connect begins and grows during their at camp.
Demographics are not the sole aspect of summer camp that makes it the ideal setting for “becoming global”, however. The very structure of camp is surprisingly global. As in the real world, the camp world expands outward from the individual. Campers and counselors must learn to function as a bunk or cabin. Then, as a bunk or cabin, they must figure out how to be part of a larger group of other bunks or cabins of campers the same age. From there, they must all learn how to work with other campers of various ages to become what makes “camp” a unit, rather than hundreds of individuals. Being part of the camp unit is what campers and staff members alike report as the most meaningful part of summer camp.
The clothes have been washed (and washed again). The sleeping bag has been aired out. The stories have been told – many of them, anyway.
Right now, camp takes a back seat to the new school year. It’s a little early to think about next year. But now – with a little distance – is the perfect time to figure out how successful your son or daughter’s summer camp experience was and ask a lot of questions.
Does your child talk about friends and counselors? That’s a sure sign of a great summer. Peers and young adults have an enormous influence on a camp environment – and on each other.
What skills did your child gain, develop or improve? Is he hitting a tennis ball with a little more power than just a few months ago? Did she ask you to go swimming every day until school began? Has your son shown a new interest in drama?Does your daughter now want to write for the school newspaper?
Can you see new confidence in your child? Does she walk taller? Did he tackle tasks he once shied away from? One mother said, “I almost didn’t recognize my son after camp. It wasn’t that he grew – although he did. It was just the way he carried himself. The change in just a few weeks was incredible.”
Can you sense a spirit of independence? Whether spending a summer away from home for the first time, or having to figure things out without Mom and Dad’s help, youngsters enjoy a level of independence at camp that’s tough to attain at home. Kids still need their parents, of course – but the feel good knowing they can handle certain situations on their own.
Do they make better choices? The camp day is filled with decisions. If you detect a new (and improved) level of decision-making, camp may be part of the reason.
Does your child put things away on his own now? Nah. He did at camp – but old habits die hard.
The summer of 2011 is over, a new school year has started, everyone has finally unpacked their camp bags, and now the wait for the summer of 2012 begins. Ten months isn’t really that long. Every year we manage to wait it out. But when it’s September and the fun times we had this past summer are still fresh in our minds, it seems like an eternity; and, inevitably, we all feel a little bit (or a lot!) camp sick. We all know the feeling. Some of us find ourselves singing camp songs or have the urge to tie-dye something…maybe even set our ring tones to the camp bell, or just sit around with camp friends re-living all of the memories from the summer. Saying goodbye to another summer in our own way is a rite that we go through every fall. We not only say goodbye to our camp friends, but our counselors, and upper campers. But on the upside of goodbye is hello. Hello to all of our new friends who will join us for the first time next summer. Hello to the challenge and excitement of planning a new summer that’s even better than last. Hello to good times that turn into new memories. Hello to a new group of campers. Hello to the new counselors and staff members who choose to make camp their summer home next year. Hello, everyone. We can’t wait to see you in the summer of 2012!
Do you ever wonder what happens at camp when it rains? We assure you, it’s nothing like those scenes in movies that depict bummed out campers forced to spend entire days in their cabins or bunks . Typically, it doesn’t rain all that often in the northeast during the summer and, whenever possible, activities proceed as planned. We never let a few sprinkles get in the way of our regular activities. But on those rare days when there is just no way around it, we’re ready!
When we wake up to a morning that makes outdoor activities unrealistic, we swing into action by implementing alternative programs. Camp is just as fun and active when it’s a little bit wet outside as it is when the sun is shining. By utilizing our indoor facilities, we’re able to keep the action going by combining our regular programs that are already completely or partially indoors, like gymnastics and arts and crafts, with special activities, like games, trivia contests, or sing-a-longs. Sometimes, we simply move some of the things we normally do outside to an indoor location. Ga-ga, basketball, and soccer, for instance, all adapt well to indoor locations. By making just a few minor adjustments, we’re able to make sure that everyday at camp is full of good times and memories for our campers, not just those days when the sun shines.
Every day, we rely on a several teams of individuals to make camp happen. Everyone knows about camp counselors, the people on the front lines, but not everyone is aware of the people who work behind the scenes to make sure everything runs smoothly. Running a summer camp really is more than showing up in June ready to welcome campers and have fun. There are a myriad of staff members who perform the often thankless job of working “behind the scenes” at camp. They are a very diverse group of individuals. Some of them answer the phone when you call the camp. Others schedule daily activities, arrange transportation, or cook the food. Still, others take care of your children when they’re not feeling well, or look into your concerns about their daily lives at camp.
The fact of the matter is that summer camps require individuals of many interests and talents to operate successfully, and the measure of a good summer relies on the abilities and passions of these individuals. They often work long hours, from sunrise until the wee hours of the morning simply because they love camp. If you ask any one of them, they’ll tell you that they do what they do because, in the end, it contributes to a successful summer for campers and their parents. They also might be a little coy in admitting that it’s just plain fun for them.
Furthermore, these people are so good at their jobs that we don’t even adequately know how to thank them. They work with passion and without regard to anything but making sure our campers and their parents have the best possible experience at our camps. It truly is a thankless job , in many ways, to work behind the scenes at an American summer camp. But we are thankful!
Arts and Crafts at summer camp is more than just stringing together a few beads to make a bracelet or gluing some spray painted macaroni to a cardboard picture frame. It’s a program that gives campers the opportunity to explore their creative interests in several different types of art by offering a diverse array of age appropriate projects. Of course there are the traditional projects that are just plain fun, like paper mache and tie-dying. However, many summer camps also offer campers the opportunity to try things that are not only artistic but could be useful skills or even careers, such as metal work, jewelry making, calligraphy, cartooning, or soap and candle making. Just like sports programs at camp, many campers have discovered a passion in their summer camp’s Arts and Crafts programs that they later pursued further.
Another way in which summer camp Arts & Crafts programs benefit campers is by providing a creative outlet for children who are being given fewer chances to explore the arts in their school programs. Ashfaq Ishaq, PhD, argues that without being given the appropriate opportunity to explore their creative sides, children will not learn how to combine creativity with acquired knowledge to reach their full potential. Art encourages spontaneity and exploration, two things that allow us, as people, to be innovative and prolific in our thinking. Creativity also refines problem solving skills by helping us understand how to think “outside the box” when traditional solutions aren’t practical. All three qualities are considered crucial to success in a child’s education as well as their adulthood careers. Summer camp Arts & Crafts programs also give campers the opportunity to try some projects that might not be available in traditional school art programs, such as throwing clay on a pottery wheel.
For many campers, summer camp has become a way of maintaining tradition in environments that are ever changing. Faced with a fast paced, changing world in the winter, children can still depend on summer as a way to fall back on activities and hobbies that may not be greatly valued in conventional schools anymore but are useful and bring satisfaction. Arts and Crafts may be a dying art within American school systems. But it’s thriving within American summer camps.
Tuesday night was one of the most exciting of all time at Laurel South – it was our First Moosebowl!!! This exciting football game between the Rattlesnakes and the Black Bears of Rangeley became far more than just a game…it was an event to match the Super Bowl! While the two teams battled it out on the field, we had tailgating, tee shirt slingshots, dancing, singing, half time contests and more. In the end, the Black Bears prevailed, but all of the men of Rangeley felt victorious in knowing they were the pioneers of a game which will only grow in stature for years to come!!! We also hosted the first ever Laurel South Invitational 5-K, as friends from many camps arrived to race the quickest Laurel South has to offer. We all enjoyed ourselves and raced admirably. Thursday we headed to Funtown for our final incredible “S” Day of the Session. We are down to our final “A” Day and “B” Day of the season and busy preparing for the Dance and Gymnastic Show. Where did the time go?
What an unbelievable “S” Day we had. We started off with an incredible breakfast followed by an awesome movie morning. After Rest Hour, we were amazed by the level of talent of our campers in the Camper Variety Show and we topped off the day the incredible Laurel South Carnival!!! Tomorrow night is our First Annual Moosebowl Game, pitting the Rattlesnakes against the Black Bears in Rangeley Flag Football Game. The entire camp will be on hand to witness the game, enjoy the entertainment of the Laurel South Dancers, have a great Tailgate Party and spend time with friends. We may only have one week left, but there is plenty of excitement to be had!!!
It’s no secret that summer camps offer campers the opportunity to sample many different sports, but what may not be evident is why this may be preferable to sending children to a camp at which the focus is exclusively on one sport. Dr. Jared Wood, a sports psychologist, believes children should be encouraged to try many different sports in order to find their favorites. He warns that focusing on one sport too early in youth often “unnecessarily limits a child’s interest and skill development.”
Many child development experts recommend that children be given the opportunity to try out a sport before committing to it because it’s important for them to develop their self esteem prior to joining a team and engaging in intense training. When children enter a sport with confidence, they’re more likely feel that they can do well and, therefore, strive to do well. Many summer camp sports programs subscribe to this recommended combination of skill instruction and giving children the opportunity to use those new skills on the field or court. Summer camps also emphasize skill development over winning or losing. Campers learn sports skills in a supportive atmosphere and are taught by specialists who are proficient in their respective sports Many summer camp sports programs are headed by college or high school coaches who lead counselors who played at the high school and college level. This type of approach permits campers to try out various positions and get comfortable with the rules and general flow of a sport without feeling pressured to do well by overly zealous parents and coaches.
Another benefit of summer camp sports programs is that they offer a healthy mix of team and individual sports. Child experts point out that some children prefer and perform at their best as part of a team while others are happier and better off playing individual sports. By being able to simultaneously sample tennis and lacrosse, for instance, campers can get a feel for which one leaves them feeling the most motivated to further develop their skills while still being able to have a healthy appreciation for the other.
The variety offered at summer camp also gives campers the opportunity to try sports to which they may never have been exposed or would not otherwise have the opportunity to try. Many a camper has tried a sport for the first time at summer camp and then gone on to play on a travel team, high school team, or even a college team. Sports psychologist and author, Richard Ginsburg, Ph.D., suggests that children should be at least “12 or 13” before being encouraged to commit to one sport. Dr. Wood agrees, “It’s pretty clear that early specialization is much more likely to lead to burnout than it is to a scholarship or Olympic medal.”
So when you’re determining which type of summer camp is right for your child. Consider the benefit of a summer camp that offers a diverse array of sports that will permit your child to sample a variety of choices.