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Posts Tagged ‘lessons from camp’

Summer Camp: Improving Your Child’s School Performance

Thursday, May 5th, 2011

Sure parents send their children to summer camp to have fun.  And letters home detailing exciting moments during the summer usually more than assure them that they’re getting their money’s worth.  But did you know that summer camp also may improve a child’s performance in school?

For one, there is routine.  Yes, it’s summer camp.  Yes, your children are letting loose and having some serious fun.  But they’re also maintaining a routine.   Studies have shown that children who maintain regular routines get better grades than those who don’t.  Many camp programs follow a schedule.  Although the individual activities vary from day to day, campers know when they will eat meals, have day and evening activities, shower, and go to bed from day-to-day.  Child-experts  have noted that maintaining a routine helps children stay focused because it keeps their lives calm and predictable.   When children feel calm and safe, they accept change more easily.  By maintaining a schedule at camp, children are able to transition more easily from the previous school year into the new one.  “Children handle change best if it’s expected and it’s handled in the context of a regular routine,” says Dr. Laura Markham, behavioral specialist.   Dr. Markham also notes that routine helps children understand expectations.  The faster children are able to transition into their new school year, get settled and understand expectations, the more likely they are to be successful.

Camp also provides social structure.  Social structure helps children learn how to interact with other people.  Ultimately, they become better communicators.  The benefit of being able to learn this process at camp is the camp social structure has a ready made support system.  Summer camp promotes a strong sense of family and tradition.  Emphasis is placed on the idea of each person being a valuable member of the camp family and the importance of individual contributions to the continuance of camp traditions.   Camps tend to place emphasis on fun rather than appearance. Children are also encouraged to be curious.  The atmosphere is very fun, playful, and nonjudgmental.  In his 2006 article Why play, Toys, and Games are Important, author Dr. Toy (yes, that’s his real name) says that children feel free to be themselves when they are relaxed and having fun, which makes them better listeners and communicators.  Students who are good communicators are less likely to feel frustrated in school.

As children mature at camp, they’re taught and given more responsibility.  From the first day they arrive at camp, campers obeserve that there are certain rites reserved for specific age groups.  They see that even they, as early campers, are not without their own special traditions.  But they also learn that there are things to look forward to in getting older and becoming more experienced campers.  Older campers take longer trips outside of camp and sometimes journey further away.  They stay up later.  They have more freedom of choice in their daily activities.  There are also have rituals exclusive to mature campers, something that younger campers learn to look forward to when they were young campers and of which they anticipate being a part.

Finally, there is the element of family in summer camp.  Not only do children learn to collaborate and be flexible by co-existing with others and participating regularly  in team sports and challenges, they are given additional tools by Camp Directors and Staff who care very much about them and their development.  Many camps utilize the services of professionals, such as MA Jeff Leiken, to implement special programs that help older campers prepare for high school and beyond by understanding how to maximize their potential for success.

Sure children have fun at summer camp!  But they also learn and maintain healthy habits that help them transition into the role of good student between summers.

*For more information or to contact Jeff Leiken, please visit his website http://leiken.com.

Put on Your Bathing Suits, Goggles, and Sunblock–It’s Time to Swim!

Thursday, March 17th, 2011

Almost every camper will name his or her waterfront area as one of the best parts of camp.  Many camps are built on lakes and their waterfronts play a crucial role during the summer, not only as a place for swimming but as a gathering place and the perfect backdrop for outdoor evening activities.  Learning to swim at summer camp is a rite of passage.  But learning to swim not only provides a great foundation for building camp memories of sunny days spent at the waterfront, it has lifelong benefits as well.  

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 that is 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, emotional well being, concentration, and social skills.   In fact, it’s the largely social aspect of camping that likely makes it such a positive and popular part of the camping experience.  The relaxing atmosphere of a pool or waterfront area provides the perfect setting for children to let down their guards 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 campers experiences.  There are often several activities taking place at once, which is why camp Waterfront areas are typically generously staffed with well trained, fully certified lifeguards who complete an extensive and rigorous training program prior to the start of camp.

The pool area is not merely a place for swim instruction at summer camp but fun activities such as  synchronized swimming competitions in which campers have fun using creativity and teamwork to choreograph a musical number that combines dancing and swimming.  Pool parties are popular evening activities at camp, complete with music and plenty of opportunity to socialize.    

Even more adventure can be found on larger lake areas that, in addition to swimming beaches, also often have water toys, such as trampolines, rock-its, and climbing rocks for campers to enjoy.   Since these areas require campers to pass a swim test prior to being able to use them, they provide fun and attainable goals for campers: first, to pass the test that allows them to swim to these special areas, then the challenge of climbing the wall or walking the plank.  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 decathlons, apache relays, and Olympics or Color Wars–that give campers the opportunity to use their swimming skills to rise to a challenge.  Many camps also compete in swim meets through their 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.

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.

Sparking Creativity through Campfire

Tuesday, March 8th, 2011

One of the most endearing and sacred parts of summer camp is the campfire.  More than just wood lit with a match, it’s an intimate part of the camping experience that goes far beyond simply sitting around a fire.  Each camp has a set of traditions uniquely connected to the campfire experience and, to campers, each tradition is significant, demanding reverence.  The campfire is the very place where many children recall the moment when their camp transformed from “a camp” to “their camp”, where fellow campers and counselors become family while singing songs, roasting s’mores, and engaging in campfire activities.   So intricate is the campfire to the summer camp experience that even former Disney CEO Michael Eisner has reflected on its importance in making him who he is:

“Simply consider the lessons I was taught by the campfire…every time the rich
reward was the same as we simply sat and enjoyed our consuming creation. And, there
was one aspect in particular that never failed to intrigue me, and that was the process of seeing the single small flame of the match spread to the kindling and then the twigs and then the smaller branches and finally the larger logs. It didn’t dawn on me until years later, but this was the perfect metaphor for the creative process…Years later, I found myself running a network television division and then a movie studio and now an entire entertainment company. But, much of the success I’ve achieved can be traced to the direct and metaphorical lessons I learned in building those campfires.”

To some, to assign such significance to fire may seem a bit of a stretch.  But to anyone who has attended camp, it’s not only believable but apt.  Beyond Eisner’s metaphor, the campfire is symbolic of camp, and represents the bonding between campers and nature.  Campfires instantly evoke feelings of togetherness and promote an atmosphere of being together in an intimate setting that is unique to the people who are present.  Many camps hold opening and closing campfires to welcome campers and immerse them in the camping experience and to help them say goodbye at the end of the summer.  At the beginning of the summer, the flames represent the birth of a new summer.  Opening campfires often include some sort of ritual that introduces an idea or process that can be re-visited throughout the summer, such as setting goals for the summer or some sort of introduction and bonding activity with camp “siblings”.  The meaning of the flames, however, transforms at the end of the summer. The burning of a closing campfire represents the end of the season.  It’s a way to give the summer a proper and respectful send off.  Campfires held throughout the summer supplement overnight camping trips and special events.

To say that the campfire breeds creativity is not only accurate, but understated.  The various representations and meanings that the actual fire itself takes on helps campers learn to look at the same thing from different angles, a crucial aspect of honing creative thought and learning to think “outside the box”, which is essential to developing good problem solving skills.  When considered from this perspective, it’s not at all difficult to imagine a CEO of one of the world’s largest companies crediting much of his success to his camp experiences, specifically to the campfire.  In fact, it provides insight about the significance of camp and how the lessons learned there can be carried throughout life.

Giving Back: The Spirit of Camp Community

Thursday, March 3rd, 2011

American author Mitch Albom has noted, “The way you get meaning into your life is to devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning.”  Community is a big part of camping and is a core value often emphasized through community service, peer mentoring within camp, and special programs created to help older campers maneuver through their teen years.   For many campers, the spirit of community that they learn to embrace at summer camp becomes a passion that remains with them throughout life.  A large percentage of professionals in the camping industry began their camping careers as campers whose passion for camp and community has lead them to lend their time and resources to organizations dedicated to providing opportunities for everyone to be able to attend camp.

SCOPE (Summer Camp Opportunities Provide and Edge) is one such organization.  Since 1991, SCOPE has sent more than 15,000 children from low income families to summer camp through the generous donations of individuals, corporations, and foundations that share a mutual belief in the long reaching effects of summer camp.

David Miller, Owner/Director of Camp Starlight in Northeastern Pennsylvania, is one such individual.  Miller will emcee the annual SCOPE benefit event, which raises money to send underprivileged children to camp, on April 6t.   Over 200 attendees are expected at this year’s event.  Miller says that he and his wife Allison have always believed that it’s very important to give back to the camp community.  Miller attended camp as a child.  It was there that his dream of someday owning a summer camp was formed.  It became a reality in 1999 with his purchase of Starlight, which is the summer home to 260 girls and 260 boys each summer, and has been featured in Forbes Magazine as one of the premiere summer camps in the nation.

He first became involved with SCOPE seven years ago as a member of the dinner committee.   He says that he believes, “that a summer camp experience is very important to children from all socio-economical households.  Giving underprivileged children the opportunity to leave the inner city for a portion of the summer helps in their social, physical and emotional development.”  Each year, SCOPE sends 1600+ children to summer camp through corporate sponsorship, blind donations, individual contributions, and fundraising events such such as the one Miller will host.

If you’re interested in providing summer camp opportunities for underprivileged children, would like to learn more about SCOPE, or would simply like to donate, please visit http://scope-ny.org/

Childhood Obesity Part II: Balancing Nutrition and a Healthy Lifestyle

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

In the first part of this blog series, we discussed the benefits of physical activity at camp.  There are underlying advantages to this that directly relate to nutritional habits.  Research shows that that the more time children spend doing passive activities such as watching television, sitting at a computer, or playing video games, the more likely they are to overeat.  The reason for this is simple.  A sedentary lifestyle leads to boredom.  Nutritionists assert that lack of activity mars a child’s ability to determine the difference between boredom and hunger.  Unfortunately, according to dietician Jennifer Thomas, the increased amount of free time and lack of structure that often come with summer break make children particularly vulnerable to tedium and excessive food consumption.  Says Thomas, “A child can pick up 5 to 10 pounds over the course of a summer, so it’s important to recognize the difference between boredom and hunger.”

Concern about the obesity crisis has sprung to the forefront of the camping industry.  Cedric Bryant, Ph.D. and Chief Scientist for The American Council on Excercise, was a keynote speaker at the 2011 American Camp Association’s (ACA) National Conference, attended by thousands of camp professionals.  In his address, Dr. Bryant discussed the growing issue of obesity and praised the ability of summer camp  to transform poor habits through exercise.  Most traditional summer camps offer children a healthy mix of hobbies and athletics.   Camp staff members encourage campers to participate in everything that’s offered to them, even that which they might not necessarily do or try at home.

There is also something to be said for the fact that many summer camp activities, including dining, are scheduled into a child’s day and carried out in a group setting.  Access to food is limited throughout campus, and eating is typically not permitted in bunks.  Quite simply, obtaining food at camp is not as easy as walking into the pantry or opening the refrigerator on a whim for lack of something better to do.  New research has established many benefits to family meals.  One potentially underrated advantage is that dining as a unit may keep consumption in check by limiting what nutritionists call the “eating area”, the combination of time and space in which eating occurs.  “This strategy can help determine if they [children] are really hungry or just bored,” says Thomas.  Meals at summer camp are held at specific times in a designated place—usually a dining or mess hall—and campers dine together, often with their bunkmates.  Counselors supervise, insuring that everyone receives food and reporting any changes in a camper’s eating patterns.

The four day 2011 ACA conference also featured  seminars that addressed issues such as how to  work together to improve the overall health and nutrition of campers, understanding the relationship between nutrition and wellness and using that knowledge to help campers be high achievers through healthy bodies and minds, and adding healthy options to dining room menus, particularly for those campers who require special diets.

Indeed, though many camps are constantly striving to improve in these areas, the notions  introduced in these seminars are not new.  Meals served by most summer camps are carefully planned and balanced in accordance with USDA recommendations.  Many camps also encourage their campers to make healthy choices at mealtimes by providing several fruit options in the morning and salad bars at lunch and dinner.  Vegetarian alternatives are typically available and, increasingly, more attention is being given to rising nutritional challenges such as diabetic or gluten free diets.
All of this is enough to make summer camp worth considering as a combatant to the type of lackadaisical lifestyle that leads to pooreating habits and, possibly, obesity.

Summer Camp: Curbing Childhood Obesity

Thursday, February 17th, 2011

With the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reporting that nearly 1 in 5 children between the ages of 6 and 19 is obese, it has become imperative that we, as parents, make as much effort to set our children up for success in establishing proper food habits, just as we would in other areas of their lives.  Three primary causes consistently cited for childhood obesity are lack of physical activity, an unbalanced diet and overeating.  An often overlooked benefit to summer camp is the significant impact it has in curbing childhood obesity by promoting an active lifestyle and healthy eating practices.  In this multi-part series, we will examine the efforts being made by summer camps to battle poor diet and exercise.

Part I.  Physical Activity

Beyond traditional summer camp sports such as soccer, basketball, baseball, roller hockey and gymnastics, many camps are increasingly focusing on the development of extensive programs for such popular fitness activities as spin, running, weights, zumba, yoga and the martial arts.  The instant popularity of these programs suggests that children have a natural interest in exercise and will engage in it of their own accord in the absence of many of the daily distractions that promote a more lethargic lifestyle but are not readily available at summer camp, such as computers, video game systems and television.  The ability to participate in fitness programs as a form of fun also encourages campers to approach such activities with an open mind rather than as something forced on them and that is only done out of necessity.  

Some camps are also experimenting with nutrition programs that merge cooking and fitness activities.  Such programs teach campers how to plan healthy meals and snacks and then prepare them.  Cooking programs are among the most popular at summer camp.  To merge them with nutrition is a clever way to demonstrate the importance of using discretion in choosing what we eat and consuming it in moderation.  In the past, the idea of “diet,” as in depriving oneself of necessary nutrients, has been cited as a contributing factor in the growth of eating disorders and yo-yo dieting.

For those who question the lasting effects of fitness and nutritional habits adapted at summer camp, statistics indicate that they won’t be going away anytime soon.  According to the American Camp Association, more than half of children who pursue a new interest at camp will continue pursuing that interest once they return home.

Up next, part II.  Balancing Nutrition and a Healthy Lifestyle

A Summer Full of Adventure

Monday, February 7th, 2011

Few people think of finding a summer job while bundled in scarves, coats, and gloves as they attempt to maneuver roadways and college campuses after the latest snowfall.  However, whether 2011 is the first time you’re considering a summer camp position or you’re a seasoned veteran, February is exactly the time to start the process of securing summer employment, if you haven’t already done so.  Many camps attend campus recruiting fairs in order to assemble the perfect staff.  So why should you attend one of these fairs or complete an online application now?  To begin with, a camp job is definitely fun, but also a lot of work…so be prepared! Where else can you get paid to play all day while building valuable job skills? Whether you work in a specific area and focus on a sport, activity or hobby you love or you work as a counselor who travels from activity to activity with campers, your day is full of exciting challenges and a probably even a few surprises, both of which will develop your problem-solving, critical thinking, and negotiation skills.

If you like working with children and aspire to a career in a field such as education, sports training, psychology or sociology, then you already have another reason to work at a camp.  Camp is an excellent place to gain valuable experience and is impressive on a resume.  Although camp seems lighthearted–and it is in many ways–working at camp requires a lot of responsibility, flexibility, and adaptability, all of which are very valuable characteristics sought by employers.   Each day guarantees new challenges, many of them unexpected.  Summer camp is often organized chaos.  Yes, there is always a plan in place, but the unexpected is also inevitable.  While this may seem scary the first couple days, it also brings an excitement and satisfaction that delivering pizzas or serving food (or even working at an investment bank)  never could.  Working at camp also requires a lot of communication and interpersonal interaction, two more transferrable skills that are highly valued by employers.  At camp, you must effectively co-exist with your campers, co-counselors, and other staff members to be successful.   You will also be able to tell future employers that you worked with people from all over the world and from many different socio-economic backgrounds.  That you’ve overcome cultural, language, and social obstacles with others tells recruiters that diversity is not something you fear, but rather embrace.

Working at summer camp can also be very healthy for your bank account.  You won’t become Donald Trump spending your summers at camp. However; camps provide housing and food in addition to a salary. It’s possible to live virtually expense-free for a couple of months.  Many summer camp counselors take home all or most of their salaries at the end of the summer.

Finally, you will form lifelong friendships at camp.  You may arrive alone and nervous in June, but you will leave in August with literally hundreds of friends from all over the world.  Two months may not seem like a long time, but when one lives and works in close proximity with co-workers, it’s more than sufficient to form bonds that ordinarily would take years.  There are always  tears on the last day of camp, not only when saying goodbye to your campers, who will have secured a special place in your heart forever, but to co-workers—the ones you know you will see again as well as the ones you know you will not.  Regardless, the world will seem like a much smaller place to you.

Though it may seem early to begin planning such a special adventure with so many possibilities, building a successful camp staff not only requires individuals who possess all of the qualities previously mentioned, it requires finding the right mix of personalities and talents.  Such an endeavor, of course, takes time.  Camp recruiters review literally thousands of applications each year and speak with hundreds of candidates to find those who are the best fit for their camp’s atmosphere, philosophy and program.  Starting your job search while the ground is still white and the tree branches still bare provides you with the advantage of a larger pool of positions from which to choose.  By April, most camps have nearly completed their hiring and only difficult to fill or highly specialized roles remain.

So, after a winter of wading through piles of snow, are you ready for a summer full of adventure?

Camp: The Most Fun and Biggest Extended Family You’ll Find!

Tuesday, January 18th, 2011

Before setting off for camp, some campers and their parents wonder about how they will fit in, since it’s natural to try and imagine new experiences ahead of time. However, like most adventures, camp often turns out to be wonderful in ways that can’t be completely anticipated! If you’re still wondering about going to camp, you’ll be interested to hear about the experience of India (9) and Athéna (6), who crossed the Atlantic from France to attend Camp Weequahic last summer. Well, at first the plan was for India to go to camp, but after watching the Camp Weequahic video and getting goosebumps 10 to 20 times, Athéna became determined to go with her sister. Their parents did a lot of research and supported the girls going to camp 100% — a combination that led to a fantastic summer camp experience for the whole family!

The girls’ mother Shaila-Ann, looked for a camp to meet her specific criteria—a camp that was not too big, near a major airport, co-ed, and with tons of new activities for her child to experience. Shaila-Ann also feels it was important to choose the camp before presenting it to the children (especially for those as young as hers), so they felt secure with a decision made by their parents and didn’t feel pressured by such a big question. She also reports that looking back, using online resources like the video “really gave a feel for the actual camp experience,” and allowed India and Athéna to participate in the process.

The family met camp directors Cole and Kate at an information meeting. They immediately felt that Cole’s criteria for choosing staff was in line with their values and could see that he was fully dedicated to camp and facilitating a caring family environment. These parents especially felt that nobody could “pull the wool over Cole’s eyes” and this gave them “tremendous confidence in taking the leap of faith to send the children to a place [they] had not visited themselves.” Once at camp, the girls felt included and supported by camp staff and other campers, which is what their parents had predicted! The girls were happy and their parents enjoyed that reassurance with so many miles between them.

India and Athéna really loved camp and also gained a first hand experience of diverse American culture—exactly what the family was looking for. India was thrilled that she could communicate with Spanish speaking campers from Florida although at first she imagined they were from a different country and not part of the United States. Camp really broadened her concept of the States and understanding of North American families and geography! Athéna learned that she can make friends and have a wonderful time without being completely fluent in English—now both girls use those skills in meeting people and exploring their world. Their parents still make sure to share how proud they are of their girls who fiercely embarked on their camp adventure and had such a memorable time. They haven’t pushed for details about everything and Shaila-Ann says, “even today several months later the girls will suddenly relate their success in overcoming their initial fear of going down the zip line or a funny incident with one of the wonderful counselors that made them laugh. . .”

Shaila-Ann is thrilled that, “the Camp experience enabled my girls to feel that they can do pretty much ANYTHING–since they felt accepted and “at home”–at camp in a foreign country they had never visited!” Learning they can feel secure and happy on their own anywhere built tremendous confidence and India is thinking of studying in the US when she is older. “For my younger daughter who was not so fluent in English, the experience showed her the benefits of speaking up in order to interact with others and that skill will last a lifetime!”

AFSC Camps are committed to caring for individual campers and creating an environment where campers grow and friendships blossom. Camp staff are trained and dedicated to helping campers feel included and encourage campers to care for each other. This reciprocity of sharing/caring is core to the whole inclusive experience and foundational to developing capable children–even as young as India and Athéna. Now that’s kid power!

Do you have a similar story to share? How has summer camp shaped independence in you or someone you know?

Thanks Shaila-Ann, India and Athéna for sharing your adventure–and well done girls!

Deborah-Eve

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Thanks for the images gardener41, Michael Oh, and Sugar Daze (f/k/a LittleMissCupcakeParis).

Camp: Future, Past and Present

Tuesday, January 4th, 2011

Whether your Holiday Season has ended or is about to begin, summer camp season isn’t far away! In fact, on December 8th 2010, next year’s campers wore their camp shirts in numerous cities to mark the 200 Day Countdown To Summer. If you’ve never gone to camp, it may be difficult to understand what drives this passion for camp all year—but campers know that camp is contagious, FUN, and essential! The camp experience helps children develop into well-rounded adults inenormous and complex ways, and that’s really important—but having FUN and intense youthful experiences is how it all happens. That’s the brilliant combination of camp. The experience includes serious AND hilarious moments—often simultaneously! The whole experience is much like the two sides of a single coin, or the double-faced image of Janus, the Roman god who can see into the past and future at the same time—and the origin of the name for the first month—January.

The serious side of camp includes feeling part of a unique community, identity development and participating through the years to make irreplaceable memories. If you don’t understand why camp is such an important American institution, in 1998 Ira Glass and the This American Life radio program attempted to investigate the topic—#109 Notes on Camp. The program addresses why people who love camp say that non-camp people simply don’t understand what’s so amazing about camp and attempts to bridge the gap of misunderstanding between camp people and non-camp people!

It also highlights how fun, tradition, stories, community and being human are all part of identity development at camp. With his signature quirky style, Ira assembled more “truth is stranger than fiction tales,” where real campers tell stories of camp in days gone by and explain why the camp experience is so special. Hundreds of campers responded to his call for stories and the program shares a selection, so if you’re interested in history and interpreting American culture, you’ll find the reminiscences fascinating. Just remember that all camp experiences are not like the stories told—the point of the program is to illustrate the intensity of the experience! It ends with campers talking about becoming camp alumni and how their camp experiences won’t ever be forgotten.

As we all know, time passes and our camp years are limited by the fact that we’re only children once. It’s easy to feel briefly melancholy at year’s end as time waits for no one, but of course, December also means that the promise of a new year is around the corner! In January, we’d like to continue looking backwards and forwards while thinking about camp and we’d especially love to hear from camp alumni. What’s the funniest thing that happened to you at camp? How did camp contribute to your adult life? We’d like to hear about the memories you hold dear and close to your heart, or what you wish for campers next year? If you’re counting the days until camp starts, what are YOU planning?

For now, “Happy New Year” to everyone and let the countdown to Camp 2011 begin!

Deborah-Eve

Thanks for the images wikipediaquinn.anya, and megawheel360.

A Whale of a Lesson

Tuesday, December 28th, 2010

Have you ever heard of Humphrey the Humpback Whale? Before our campers (and many of our staff) were born, Humphrey’s odyssey held our nation’s attention for many, many days.

Humphrey, as his name suggests, is a humpback whale. Getting turned around one day chasing plankton or following a misguided hunch, Humphrey found himself in San Francisco Bay. A few days later, he was in the Sacramento River. If you are trying to get to Sacramento, it’s a great plan. Just not it if you are whale.

Rescuers and researchers tried everything they could think of to stop Humphrey’s progress up the river. He escaped traps, ignored the pleading, and continued his meander up river all the while showing signs of physical distress and confusion. Thankfully, one researcher had a great idea.

With the help of the US Navy and a local boat owner, Dr. Bernie Krause started sending out whale calls through the water. (If you’ve not heard them, they are really interesting!) Within no time at all, Humphrey appeared. The astounded rescuers had called to Humphrey and he came to them!

Taking the boat with its whale calls down river, Dr. Krause and his team led Humphrey out to the San Francisco Bay and then to the Pacific. It was a great rescue that captivated the nation that actually advanced science. We found out it takes a whale to speak to another whale.

That’s a lesson camp teaches every day. In this age of video games and iPhones, PSP’s and tweets, we mustn’t forget one of our most basic requirements: It takes people to speak to other people.

Great camps surround children with great mentors and develop a community in which everyone is valued and cared for. At Weequahic, finding and training the best staff possible is, along with safety, our most important priority. The more interested, exciting, patient, and prepared a staff, the more likely it is for our campers to have an extraordinary experience. This, I might add, also provides the staff with an incredible experience as well!

If you know of someone interested in joining a community of people who want to provide an extraordinary experience for campers, please ask them to apply here. We’d be thrilled to speak with them!

Hat tip to Chuck Hodges (and Humphrey) for the story.

Cole Kelly, Camp Weequahic Director