Summer Discovery

Ready to have the best summer ever? Learn more here!

The average high school student has a lot on his/her plate. There are tests to study for, sports to practice, social events to attend and of course, college to think about.  Whether they’re the first in their family to be serious about going to college or they come from a long line of PhD’s and Master’s Degrees, navigating the college selection process can seem overwhelming.

The Summer Discovery program allows high school students to explore their college options and prepare for the transition into college life. Summer Discovery gives students the opportunity to participate in college activities, take classes, play sports, and meet new friends all before they even graduate from high school. For students interested in learning more about some of the highly accredited schools in the country, (UCLA, Johns Hopkins, and the University of Michigan, just to name a few!) this unique program is a must! Students can get a real-life “trial run” and get to know the campus, see what it is like to live independently and balance classes and a social life, and exit the program prepared and confident to make a decision about which college is right for them.

This incredible internship opportunity also provides guidance for students who have always wanted to travel abroad and attend schools all over the world. While other students are having a lazy summer, Summer Discovery interns could be exploring a different country!  Students will live on campus and experience the true college dorm life with pre-selected roommates, an opportunity that many first time college students do not have. Summer Discovery offers a more diverse pre-college experience program than any other organization, and has been privately owned by the Musiker Family for more than 50 years. Year after year, parents, students and educators have raved about the incredible experience Summer Discovery offers. Interns are a vital part of the university community, and are lead by expert staff who has been with the program for years and strive to make interns feel welcomed, prepared, educated, safe and well-supervised.

On the weekends, students can participate in scheduled trips, events, and activities that allow them to become familiar with the area and strengthen relationships with other interns. There are different sessions for each school, ranging from a six-week program to a two-week program, all held in June and July. For high school students who already have college on the brain, this chance of a lifetime internship is an excellent way to get to know some of the world’s best universities, and helps them feel confident and prepared to take on the next chapter of their lives.

 

Ready to have the best summer ever? Learn more here!

Brant Lake Dance Camp

As young girls, Rachel Kerchman (better known as “Kerch” at camp) and I trained together at the Ballet Arts Studio in Beacon, New York. Our summers were spent apart; hers enjoying the life as a Brant Lake camper, and mine vigorously training at either the School of American Ballet in New York City, Miami City Ballet or the San Francisco Ballet. While maintaining our close friendship through care packages and letters, our life paths became very different. Kerch went on to study math education, and I left New York to take my first professional job at the State Street Ballet in Santa Barbara. Kerch’s passion was not only in math, but in the well-being of these young girls who came summer after summer to Brant Lake Dance Camp. After years of listening to Rachel rave about the wonders of this beautiful place, she invited me to be a guest teacher. I happily accepted.

This June will be my third year teaching in the picturesque dance studios up in the woods of Brant Lake. After nine years of dancing for the Smuin Ballet in bustling San Francisco, Brant Lake has become my summer oasis where I can share my twelve years of experience as a professional dancer with these energized young women. With my strong ballet background, I’ve enjoyed teaching the girls the more contemporary repertoire that I have learned and performed throughout the years. The campers in all three dance levels are learning works from world renowned choreographers: works that I’ve dreamt of dancing ever since I began ballet. Sharing the studio space with these fun and talented young ladies has been an honor and a privilege. I am really looking forward to coming back, taking in the fresh pine air, and hearing all of the laughter as the girls walk down to the lake, or to their next meal.

Being in an environment where everyone involved comes together to share their craft is truly inspirational. As a dancer, we use movement to motivate people, to provide comfort, hope and joy to those surrounding us. These summers at Brant Lake Dance Camp are special because I watch the girls develop a newfound confidence through dance, I watch them take artistic risks, and I watch them discover new ways of interpreting the music. After the class, the students are smiling, gladly drenched in sweat as they walk out of the studio onto another wonderful activity provided at the camp.

One of the very unique opportunities that Brant Lake Dance offers to the girls is the chance to choreograph for their peers. I also love how the campers and teachers share meals. This time allows for us to get to know the each other on a personal level.  Each teacher, whether in tap, jazz, ballet, hip hop, or contemporary is around to mentor, support, and lend an ear for them through their creation process. For these young women to be able to have the chance to stand in front of the room and explore what their new friends can do is incredibly special. Brant Lake Dance Camp is a place where you not only gain tons of knowledge, but you meet lifelong friends along the way.

 

 

Looking forward to dancing with you all this summer,

 

Terez

Farm To Camp

If you are looking for something fun, exciting and different to do on your next date night or a group outing with your friends, look no further than America’s Finest Summer Camps’ newest adventure: Farm To Camp. It is held August 26th-27th and is for adult campers 21 and up. It is a unique experience where guests can experience an eight-course gourmet meal, explore and play on the expansive Camp Starlight campground, and rest soundly in fully furnished cabins or private rooms. This “adults only” night under the stars is a great option for a romantic weekend getaway, a girl’s trip or an outdoor adventure with the guys, where you can eat, sleep and play like you haven’t in a while.

 

The incredible eight-course meal is served under the stars.  It is prepared by a highly skilled chef and is made with locally grown, organic produce, grass-fed beef and chicken, and fish caught in local lakes and streams. But before you devour your meal, you’ll take part in a sophisticated lakeside wine tasting to get everyone in the mood. In the morning, enjoy a delicious brunch made with farm fresh ingredients.

 

You may eat like an adult, but Farm To Camp gives you the opportunity to play like a kid. Try your hand at tennis, basketball and softball during the day, dance the night away to a late night DJ or make the perfect S’more around the campfire after the sun goes down.

 

Do something different this summer and experience Farm To Camp at Camp Starlight.

Challenging Yourself on the Rock Wall

One foot in front of the other, don’t look back, stay focused, keep your eyes on your target. All of these are popular phrases we hear throughout our lives; timeless advice that encourages us to be persistent, dedicated and to face our fears. In many ways, when campers scale the daunting Rockwall, they hear and learn many of the same principles. Climbing the wall can be used as a metaphor for camp, and camp prepares kids and teen for the real world. Campers may think they’re just doing anther camp activity, but a lot of foundational and character work happens on the wall as well.

There are some things at camp that are easy, and some things that aren’t. Climbing the rock wall is hard work. It takes muscles and skills you aren’t used to using, it is unfamiliar and can seem overwhelming; f you’ve never done it before, you may feel like it is too much, too hard, or too scary. Camp can bring about many of the same feelings. In the beginning, it can feel like it is too much to take on or that you struggle to get a hold on this new and unfamiliar experience. You may lose your footing, have a slip-up, or even make a mistake that sends you a few steps backward. All of this uncertainty is part of the learning process, and with encouragement from friends, campers slowly begin to embrace the newness of climbing, and of camp and find the courage to step out of their comfort zone.

Another way climbing the rock wall is like camp is that as you go through the process, you learn things about yourself. As you get further and further up the wall, you learn that you are stronger, more capable, braver and more determined than you did when both feet were on the ground. You learn that instead of focusing on climbing the whole wall, you simply focus on the next move. Camp is the same way, as you spend your days at camp trying new things, you uncover parts of yourself that you never knew. You discover strengths and passions that you never knew existed, and you learn to enjoy the moment instead of worrying so much about the big picture. A lot of these principles are true for life as well. You learn a lot about yourself when you step out of your comfort zone, and when things feel overwhelming, focusing on the next right step can help any problem seem more manageable.

When you finally make it to the top of the rock wall, there is a sense of accomplishment that can’t be put into words. It makes you realize that with hard work, persistence and a good support system, you really can do anything. Finally making it to the top proves to yourself that ever when things look challenging or even impossible, you are strong and capable, as long as you put your mind to it. Most of the time, campers who make it to the top are eager to come down and climb again, this time with a new perspective and confidence. Similarly, most campers find themselves ready to come back and try the adventure of sleep away camp once the summer has come to a close. They are excited to take the journey again, even if it means there will be days and activities that are hard, even if it means they may make mistakes or feel frustrated, they know that the end result is worth all of the hesitation and fear, and the sense of accomplishment and the self-realization that comes from taking the journey.

Climbing the rock wall can be a life changing, eye opening, pivotal moment for many campers. It may be the first time they’ve faced a fear, or it may be the boost of confidence that they need as they navigate the teenage years. Climbing the rock wall is more than just a fun summer camp activity, just like camp is so much more than a place to go when school is out. Climbing the rock wall builds strength, character, self-confidence, teamwork and encourages campers to face their fears, and the goal of America’s Finest Summer Camps is to do the same thing.

Why We Love Laurel South

If you were to ask campers what made their summer at Laurel South so memorable, most of them would not tell you WHAT made it so memorable, but instead WHO. Campers are surrounded by a professional, caring, and dedicated staff of counselors and directors whose primary focus is their safety, well-being, and personal development all summer long. Students and recent graduates from schools all over the country apply to change lives at Laurel South, and only the most qualified are accepted. Campers are surrounded by counselors who possess integrity, honesty, self-discipline, a strong moral character and a fun, kid-friendly personality. The camper-to-counselor ratio is better than 3:1, ensuring each camper gets personalized attention from their counselors.

 

Many counselors have been at Camp Laurel South since they were young campers, and have moved up the ranks and proven themselves worthy of one of the most important jobs they’ll ever have: building the foundation of our future generations. These counselors are dedicated to empowering and encouraging campers, to help them safely test their own limits, to foster friendships and self-confidence, to be a shoulder to cry on and an ear to listen. Laurel South’s campers are happy, productive and confident because they are surrounded by adults who believe in them, listen to them, and bring out the best in each of them. What better place to spend a summer then surrounded by positive adults who are dedicated to making sure you have the best summer of your life?!

The Magic of Camp Starlight

 

Camp Starlight has been the backdrop for lifelong summer memories for over 70 years. It is a place that holds a special place in the hearts of thousands of campers, and its focus on tradition is what keeps campers coming back year after year. Camp Starlight knows how valuable camp traditions are, and why they play such a huge role in the overall camp experience. While there are certainly surprises and new things to explore while at camp, there are some things that have been done the same way for decades, passed down from generation to generation, that makes campers feel like they are part of something special.

 

There are special songs, evening programs, activities, sayings and other special elements of camp that have a deep rooted history, and campers take these traditions very seriously. They understand and feel connected to the thousands of campers who have jumped in the lakes, played on the fields, and sat around the campfires before them, and find peace in taking part of a ritual that has been the foundation for memorable summers before them. Each camper experiences Camp Starlight in their unique way, but the special traditions unite and unify campers, and leave a lifelong impression on each one. Not all sleep-away camps are created equal, and Camp Starlight’s age-old traditions and rich history make it the best place to get the true summer camp experience.

For the Love of the Game

If you’ve been on social media recently (and who hasn’t?), chances are you’ve seen Geno Auriemma, Head Coach of the University of Connecticut Women’s basketball team, comment on what he looks for in an athlete while recruiting his players. UConn hasn’t lost a game in two years and there’s a reason why.

We need to go back to our roots. We need to focus more on enthusiasm, being a team player, passion…and then the talent. Our culture today focuses on me, me, me and on being rewarded for independent talent and being the best.

As a parent, coach, camp director and athlete, it’s my priority to teach kids to love sports, to respect their sport and teammates, to have a positive attitude and to work hard to accomplish their goals. The rewards will come. Be patient.

To see Coach Auriemma’s comments, click here: http://www.ncaa.com/news/basketball-women/article/2017-03-20/watch-why-uconn-coach-geno-auriemmas-2016-womens-final-four

See you at the game!

Rachel Milim is the Director of the Brant Lake Sports Academy in Brant Lake, New York.  Check out: www.brantlakesportsacademy.com.

Running Off the Energy of Camp

There is a buzz, an excitement, and an energy that you can feel in their air every morning when you wake up at camp. It’s a feeling that puts an extra pep in your step before your feet even hit the floor. Even camp staff and counselors who regularly need coffee to function admit to waking up with a new sense of excitement and readiness for the day before their usual cup of coffee. The energy of camp is something that is hard to explain unless you’ve experienced it yourself. The gorgeous grounds and being surrounded by such positive people is a natural stimulant that gives campers and staff a boost of energy each and every day.

It’s hard to be in a bad mood when beauty is everywhere you look. There is the natural beauty of the campgrounds, the lakes, the mountains, the sprawling fields and gigantic trees. There are the quiet mornings and peaceful evenings, the glow of the campfire and the soft sound of the breeze in the trees. The beauty of camp is refreshing, and spending a few minutes in silence, appreciating the vastness and beauty of it all is usually enough to get anyone out of a mental slump.

There is beauty and energy in the people of camp. The relationships that are formed and fostered here, the activities that take place, and the memories that are made create a unique sense of positive energy that is contagious. Campers can’t help but run, jump and skip across camp, because there is so much joy and happiness surrounding them! Of course not every single moment of every single day is rainbows and butterflies, but campers report feeling upbeat, encouraged, energized and excited for the majority of their time at camp.

Camp staff and counselors feed off of the genuine excitement and positive vibes of the campers. There is just something about camp that keeps the energy alive from sunrise to sunset. You’ve got to spend a summer here so you can understand it!

Camp Can Increase a Child’s Communication Skills and Why That Matters

 

Dear America’s Finest Summer Camps,

 

I wanted to write to personally thank every camp counselor, director, and anyone else who was responsible for the incredible camp experience my daughter had over the summer. My daughter Kelsey wasn’t like other young teenager girls her age when it came to the communication department. Other moms would vent in frustration about how their girls talked non-stop, but I never had that problem with Kelsey. Sometimes I WISHED I had that problem, but Kelsey just wasn’t a talker.

 

This worked against her in school, where she had severe anxiety at the mere thought of public speaking or even raising her hand to ask a question in class. She became more of a follower than a leader because it was easier for her to go with the flow than to speak up. I think she spent a lot of time being unhappy or discontent because she couldn’t find the words to communicate what she wanted.

 

Although she was nervous to go to camp, I knew we had to do SOMETHING to get her used to talking to other people. Camp was the best decision we ever made.

 

At camp, Kelsey shared a cabin with a handful of other girls, all of whom who were much more outgoing and outspoken than she was. A few of them took her under their wings and made her feel comfortable and included, and those girls are some of her best friends now. I am so thankful for those girls who didn’t take advantage of her quietness but embraced it as a part of who she was.

 

Throughout the day at camp, Kelsey had these two or three friends to do things with. They’d eat lunch together, play sports together and do crafts together. Somehow these young girls knew that all Kelsey needed was to feel comfortable and she’d eventually come out of her shell. And come out she did!

 

By the middle of camp, Kelsey was cracking people up with her sense of humor and witty jokes. People wanted to be around her because she really is so funny! People wanted to sit with her during campfire times and they wanted her on their teams when they played sports. She really started to open up!

 

I heard from counselors that by the end of camp, her confidence had skyrocketed. She was asking questions when he needed help, she was talking about issues or problems she had with other campers, and she seemed to be the life of the party everywhere she went. When she got home, she explained to me that at camp, you don’t have that fear of being made fun of or rejected for what you say. She said she felt comfortable in the group of friends that she had made, and felt that she could trust and depend on her counselors to listen to what she was saying. She learned to resolve issues calmly and confidently and to speak up when she felt something was important. When she came home, she was practically a different person. Her confidence was so high, and I officially had one of those teenagers that talked nonstop.

 

It is sad to me that her school environment is not as safe and welcoming and open as the camp environment. I wish teachers would focus on the quiet and shy students more, and help them come out of their shells instead of just ignoring them. I am so thankful for the girls who welcomed Kelsey in, and the counselors who constantly encouraged her to speak up and reminded her that her thoughts and in opinions were valid and important.

 

Ever since Kelsey learned to communicate while at camp, her life has really changed. She’s more of a leader now, she has great friends, and her problem-solving skills have completely turned around. She stands up for what she believes in and that makes me very proud. She is always careful to make other people who are shy and timid feel comfortable and heard like the girls at camp did for her.

 

There are a million great things about camp, but for our family, teaching Kelsey how to communicate and boosting her self-confidence were life-changing. We will be forever grateful.

 

-Sincerely,

 

Mother of a chatterbox

The Value of Communal Living at a Young Age

We’ve all heard horror stories of terrible college roommates; the ones who are dirty or irresponsible or rude or have no self-awareness. It raises the question, if these people would have been exposed to more communal living experiences growing up, would they be better roommates as an adult? Living with others is a skill that many children only learn from living with their families. Many children never share a room or living spaces with people other than their family until they go away to college. So it’s no surprise that these children struggle when it comes to etiquette and social norms that come with communal living.

Spending a summer at camp is a great way to prepare your child for the realities of living with other people in their adulthood. It helps them become aware of their surroundings and the way they impact the space that they share with others.

Early risers learn to occupy their time quietly and respectfully in the mornings without waking up others. Night owls learn to keep things quiet once it’s time for “lights out.” Children who are used to being disorganized at home learn that their messiness affects others when sharing a cabin, and they begin to learn the importance of organization and cleanliness. Sharing a cabin also teaches campers to respect property that is not theirs, such as the beds in the cabin, the bathrooms, etc. They learn to be aware and careful about how they treat things that are not their own.

From day one, campers are taught about their roles and responsibilities as a member of a specific cabin. Counselors know that this may be a camper’s first time living with others, so they use gentle reminders and guidance to help campers keep their personal spaces tidy, to stay organized, and to respect the other campers around them. Every day at camp is a new opportunity to learn valuable life skills and prepares them to be respectful and responsible roommates in the future.

Living together with 8-10 peers gives campers the chance to learn how to deal with different personality styles. It gives them a chance to practice their communication and conflict management skills.

Nobody goes into parenthood with a goal to raise a nightmare roommate. All parents want to raise kind, considerate, self-aware human beings who others like being around and, eventually, living with. Gifting your child with a summer away at camp is about more than sports and campfires. It is about learning valuable life lessons that will help them become a more productive member of society.

Your child will thank you. And so will his/her future college roommates.