One of the Most Memorable Summer Camp Activities

One of the biggest parts of the summer at most traditional summer camps and nearly as big of a tradition as the concept of summer camp is the color war. For several days, campers and staff members parade around camp in their team colors. Body paint, capes, mismatched socks, colored hair spray, pom-poms, and tutus are the en vogue accessories, and enthusiastic demonstrations of team pride via spirited cheers are infectious.

Although an emphasis on friendly competition geared toward giving campers an opportunity to put their camp skills to the test while exhibiting exemplary sportsmanship has prompted many camps to change the name to such things as Challenges, Tribals, College Days, and Olympics, the concept remains the same: Campers are placed onto teams and, for several days, engage in a host of activities designed to re-cap the summer—a sort of “best of” replay.

Whatever the name, the competition is often full of traditions regarded as sacred by campers and staff alike. The beginning of the games is invariably a surprise to campers and much of the staff with the reveal being is a closely guarded secret about which there is quite a bit of discussion and speculation in the days leading up to it. The breakout is unquestionably one of the biggest events of the summer and always on everyone’s list of favorite moments from the summer. Counselors are included in the action as team leaders and coaches.

The end of the competition often involves some sort of bonding activity designed to bring the teams back together as one camp family to finish out the summer because, in the end, the emphasis of a color on color contest is not whether one is on a winning team when all is said and done, but that each and every camper has had the opportunity to demonstrate what he or she has learned over the summer and, thus, gain an understanding of how each person brings something different and valuable to the camp family. Such a focus makes these types of camp activities a valuable lesson in diversity and teamwork. Everyone has a unique role on the team that directly affects the team’s overall performance. For anyone—camper or staff—who has ever been a part of camps, it’s the part of the summer that is undoubtedly one of the most memorable.

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Journeys and Joy at Camp


“Journeying is the act of traveling from one place to another—not a moment of arrival. You get ‘there’ by being committed to the journey.” – Bernadette Jiwa

We are all on a journey, we are all going ‘somewhere.’ The questions are, “Where do we want to go?  What will we choose to guide us? And, what would be important to bring along?”

Well…I’m sure there are lots of things that would be useful. Personal qualities like independence, curiosity, patience, and empathy would be great. So would a sense of being able to learn and adapt. And don’t forget friends! They can make any journey not only successful but fun as well.

Hm…. Sounds like we pretty much have everything we need here at America’s Finest Summer Camps to get where we want to go – a destination (creating awesome), values to guide us, a place to practice and experiment, and lots and lots of friends!

Friendships Growing Between New Campers As The Days Go By


Many things inevitably grow over the course of the summer: the grass, your height, and of course, everyone’s love for camp skyrockets to new levels. As the days roll by, the most noticeable growth and developments are the prospering friendships between new campers.

First introductions are made by playing games where campers can discover and bond over their similarities. As you spend more time together you become comfortable sharing your story with your friends and bunkmates who become (like) family.

Whether you’ve spent the morning on the soccer field or paddling on the lake, you learn to work as a team and it’s clear that respect, appreciation and admiration are forming between friends.

Cheers and chants can be heard around every corner. Over the dinner table the events of the day are retold in perfect detail with the campers laughing all over again like it was really happening for the second time.

Back in the bunk over flashlight time, conversations jump from the serious to the silly within moments leading to the inevitable progression of camp friends becoming forever friends.

Arrival Day at America’s Finest Summer Camps

Arrival day finally came and every camp was bubbling over with excitement. You could feel it in the air, you could see it in the smiles, you could hear it in the high-pitched voices that people get when they can’t contain this feeling and you could touch it in the warm embraces between friends old and new.

The staff had been preparing for this day for 10 incredibly LOOOONG months. They worked day in and day out as busy beavers to make sure everything was prepared for today. You knew their excitement levels were high by the way they talked so passionately about everything that had been and everything that was to come.

As the children tumbled out of the buses there was no stopping them. They ran in all directions in search of their best friends, arms wide open for the bear hug that they’ve been waiting 10 months to give their fellow campers again. As the music blared, the boys and girls rushed to their eagerly awaiting counselors and friends in their bunk for the summer. Cheers and laughter could be heard all around the campus as campers and counselors met for the very first time and also reunited after months of missing each other. This blanket of happiness was so electrifying and comforting and this was only the beginning of the adventures this summer!

The beautiful scenery and facilities of America’s Finest Summer Camps pave the way for a new summer, new stories, new friends and new memories, but that same old camp feeling that we are once again HOME!

The Joy of Unplugging for the Summer

Today’s world has become inundated with technology. Whether it be checking the amount of likes you received on your latest Instagram, scrolling through Facebook, or trying to take the perfect selfie, our focus on technology has overpowered our daily lives. Without the ability to live in the moment and appreciate our surroundings, technology continues to have the upper-hand on blocking face to face communication between individuals. This is why getting the chance to unplug during the summer at camp is the perfect opportunity to take a step back from the outside pressures of life and enjoy the people that surround you.

For the summer, you can explore everything the world around you has to offer. You can start off your day by enjoying the view of the morning mist coming off the lake and the sounds of birds chirping. Meals are filled with lively conversations with your bunkmates, spirited cheers, and songs. As the day progresses, opportunities to grow your creativity and skills continue. From learning how to dive at the lake to conquering your fear of climbing the rock wall to then fly down the zipline, unplugging allows us to experience new adventures each day of the summer.

The friendships established surpass all other relationships that individuals will make in the outside world. Camp friends see the real you, not the version of yourself that you post for the world to see on social media. Without the barrier of a screen between individuals, concrete bonds can form and lifelong memories are made. Interactions at camp are both real and authentic.

The unplugged atmosphere at camp allows you to be yourself at all hours of the day. Whether it be going to different activities with your bunk or dressing up for a wacky event, your spirit and confidence shines. Everywhere you look, people are smiling, cheering, singing, and dancing. At summer camp, you can be yourself and achieve all your expectations, with the acceptance and support of everyone around you.

The act of unplugging is so much more than being without technology for a few weeks during the summer. It’s a chance to explore, create, and experience new adventures. Unplugging has allowed friendships to be established and lifelong memories to be made. Most importantly, unplugging at camp allows us all to embrace our individuality and learn to be our true selves.

The Health Benefits of Summer Camp – Emotional Happiness


Hey parents! Listen up! If you’ve heard about America’s Finest Summer Camps and have been trying to figure out summer plans for your child, you’re in the right spot! If you’re thinking about providing your kids with the summer experience of a lifetime, we’ve got two secret words that will get you one step closer to the decision of providing your child with the coolest summer of their life: emotional happiness.

As parents, we all want to raise a well-rounded, happy, healthy and productive person. We want our children to be the best version of themselves that they can be, to be in tune with their emotions, and to experience happiness. Spending the summer at camp is perfectly aligned with the things we all want for our kids.

Being at camp allows kids to be with people who make you happy.

When you come to camp, you dive right into a support system of peers and counselors that only want the best for you. You quickly find friends who make you laugh, listen to you, encourage you and enjoy being around you. You look forward to each day because your fellow campers bring out the best in you.

You Find Purpose

Spending the summer at camp has a unique way of helping campers discover their gifts. It enables you to explore your interests and passions, and identify strengths that you never knew you had. Being at camp doesn’t mean you’ll find your life’s work, but it will give you an opportunity to do the things you love and will give you a sense of who you are, what you have to contribute, and will help you find your purpose.

You Become Open To Change

Part of being emotionally fulfilled is being able to not only handle change but embrace it. Being able to adjust to changing circumstances helps build confidence and prepares you for the real world.

You Learn To Love The Little Things

Campers arrive at camp with varying definitions of happiness. Some define happiness in terms of material things or success, while others feel happiest when they are giving to others or spending time in nature. Being at camp helps you appreciate the little things in life that mean the most. Instead of basing your happiness on how many likes your Instagram photo receives, you find joy in campfire songs, making friendship bracelets, swapping stories in your cabin, inside jokes with friends, nature hikes, and picnic lunches. Your parents want you to live a happy life and will be thrilled to know you will be stepping away from a more materialistic life and towards one of the simple pleasures.

Foster Independence

Summer camp provides an opportunity for campers to learn how to seek emotional fulfillment for themselves instead of relying on others to make them happy. Once you realize that you have the power over your mood and emotions, you can remain a strong and positive force even when surrounded by negativity. When you learn that you don’t need others to complete you or make you happy, you become a more confident and emotionally mature individual.

Your parents want you to be healthy in all areas of your life. They know that camp will be good for your physical health since you will be spending the summer running and playing and swimming. They know you’ll be drinking tons of water and keeping your energy up with fruits and veggies and home cooked meals. They know you will be relationally taken care of because of the daily interaction you will have with peers and counselors. And now, armed with this information, you can help them see that if they are really concerned about your emotional well-being, they would be signing you up for summer camp today!

The Camp Community

Going to a sleepaway camp not only transforms who you are as an individual but also has a profound impact on your life. Summer camp has the power to turn a few weeks of summer into an experience you will never forget. From the friendships and memories made, to the life lessons learned, true members of the camp community will tell you that it has changed their lives in ways that they could not have imagined.

The Friendships

Friendships made at camp are unlike any other relationship you have ever had. The authenticity of camp allows you to truly be who you are, which in turn fosters connections between individuals. You become part of a summer family that loves and supports one another. Your bunkmates become your sisters and brothers and your counselors are the role models you never knew you needed.

The camp community extends not only to the campers, but also to counselors who come from the UK, Australia, South Africa, and the United States. The bonds made at camp carry over and continue to solidify throughout the year as counselors travel around the world to visit one another. Because of the friendships formed at camp, counselors know that no matter where their travels take them, there will always be a friendly face to welcome them into their home.

The Memories

The camp community is so widespread that no matter what camp you attend, there is a commonality that bonds individuals together. Whether it be the cheers, the campfires, or competition, the stories of past summers allow for memories to be shared and cherished.

Because of camp networking, finding a roommate in college becomes less stressful and allows for a broader circle of friends to be established. Talk of summer camp is the perfect conversation starter as stories about camp are never-ending. Each member of the camp community always has a favorite story to tell or lesson learned from their experience at sleepaway camp.

The Lessons Learned

The strongest connection throughout the camp community is the impact it had on all of our lives. Over the course of a few weeks, summer camp is able to teach you more about yourself than you would think possible. On one hand, camp reveals your strengths as you build both your athletic and creative skills, while on the other hand, camp shows you how to be a friend, a good listener, and a confident leader. Camp has the power to teach you how to be yourself and accept everyone around you with open arms.

Learning to Look on the Bright Side at Summer Camp

A silver lining can be defined as finding the hopeful side to any situation, no matter how gloomy. Silver linings are small blessings that can lift the spirits of individuals as well as put an instant smile on your face. As someone who went to sleepaway camp, I have an unlimited amount of silver linings that I can recall at any moment of the day to make it better. For twelve summers that I spent at camp, I have had the opportunity to make memories, both big and small, that are impossible to forget. With each summer comes new bonds and irreplaceable friendships. After these twelve summers, I have the ability to remain positive and look on the bright side of just about any situation I am faced with. This skill is one that I have incorporated into my daily life in countless environments, both inside and outside of camp.

At camp, small blessings radiate wherever you look. The support network is unprecedented in the fact that everyone in the camp community looks on the bright side. Whether it be helping to sweep the bunk before inspection, campers cheering a bunkmate on as she climbs the rock wall, or counselors reading a story before bed, the positive feeling of love and support ruminates throughout the camp environment.

While camp presents campers and counselors with this magical feeling of happiness, there are obstacles that are faced over the course of the summer. Changes in weather, homesickness, arguments, and disappointment is inevitable. However, camp provides its community with an opportunity to learn how to overcome these challenges by looking on the brightside. For every moment that appears to be gloomy, there is someone there to lend a supportive hug or helping hand to cheer you up. At camp, the love between individuals is genuine and powerful. Being able to have real conversations and talk through difficult situations with friends and counselors alike is the silver lining that makes camp so unique.

These small blessings and ability to overcome obstacles at camp helps to prepare us for the daily routines we face during the other ten months of the year. Instead of needing help cleaning the bunk or feeling down after losing a sports game, campers and counselors are faced with the challenges of school work and the professional world.

Philosophies learned at camp are ingrained in both campers and counselors as we remember the importance of remaining positive and supportive to those around us. These same campers that once needed help making their beds over the summer, now have the skill set and ability to support those friends in the classroom. This includes helping others with homework assignments, raising money for a school event, or even cheering on the school’s sports teams. For counselors in college and in the workforce, the attitudes and lessons learned at camp are easily transferable to all tasks. These can include pulling an all-nighter before an exam or meeting important deadlines set by your boss. It is the inner drive to look on the bright side that motivates campers and counselors to find a silver lining in all that they do.

Mindfulness at Camp


Children and teenagers are constantly surrounded by stimuli. They are easily overwhelmed with the sights and sounds that surround them, and often don’t have the skills to be fully present and limit distractions. This is why more and more teachers and professionals are incorporating mindfulness into their curriculum. And why America’s Finest Summer Camps have been doing it since the beginning.

Mindfulness is “the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.”  Campers all have the ability to be mindful, but there are proven techniques to help them perfect their skill. At camp, we incorporate these techniques into every day living to help campers improve their focus and concentration. It helps them be present in the moment and hyper-aware of their body, their space, and their surroundings.

Camp is a busy, noisy, active place. The energy on the campus is undeniable and can be felt from the moment you arrive. However, camp counselors and staff highly encourage campers to take periods of time throughout the day to relax, stay quiet, and unwind. Some campers choose to journal, write letters home, meditate, or even sleep during this time. This critical “down” time allows campers to stay in tune with their thoughts and feelings, and reflect on the activities of the day.

Meditation is a big part of the mindfulness initiative, but there are other ways campers can learn to be mindful. Campers may find themselves waiting to take their turn for different things throughout the day. Waiting is an excellent opportunity to tune in to their inner thoughts and feelings. A quick breathing exercise or an intentional appreciation for the space around them is a great way to practice mindfulness. For many people, listening intently and carefully is a challenge. Sometimes we are thinking more about our response than actually listening to what someone has to tell us. By focusing on being better listeners, campers can improve their communication skills and be mindful at the same time.

One of the things campers learn quickly is the power of connecting with nature. It’s always incredible what a quiet walk by the lake can do to clear your mind of negativity, anger, frustration, or fear. America’s Finest Summer Camps gives campers the unique opportunity to connect with nature. Observing the natural beauty that surrounds them can help campers feel calm and connected when things seem to be getting out of control. Learning the calming power of a nature hike at camp is a coping strategy campers take with them for the rest of their lives.

Camp may be a busy place with lots to see and do, but it also provides plenty of opportunities for campers and staff to get in tune with their thoughts and feelings. Teaching mindfulness is just another way America’s Finest Summer Camps fosters future leaders, builds character and promotes a healthy lifestyle.

Activities to Get You Ready for Camp

Laurel South

Activities to Get You Ready for Camp

Summer is right around the corner and the countdown is officially on! Here are some activities to get you prepped for the season ahead.

Backyard Camping

Camping is super fun, but sometimes you’re too busy to go hiking into the wilderness to do it. Backyard camping to the rescue! The best part about backyard camping is that the house is close by if anybody needs something they forgot; and you can bring plenty of books to read in the tent.

Send Mail to Camp Friends

One of the best parts of summer camp is the friends you make. Keeping in touch by snail mail is the perfect way to let your friends from all over know how excited you are to see them. Everyone loves to receive a hand-written letter!

Let your friends know how everything’s been going at home and school, and add some drawings and glitter paint if you’re feeling artistic!

…And, of course, there’s always email and chat for those of us who just can’t wait for the old-fashioned post office.

Enjoy a Hike

Another part of camp that many of us miss during the year is the rejuvenating feeling of being in the great outdoors. The wind in the trees, the quiet of the woods — it’s part of what makes camp so special.

The best part is: you don’t have to wait until camp starts to enjoy it. Get your family together for a trip out to the nearest park. All you need is a Sunday afternoon and a sense of adventure. It’s the perfect way to reconnect with nature before camp.

Learn a New Skill

Last but not least, always remember to challenge yourself. One thing camp teaches you is that variety is the spice of life, so when you have the chance to try something new, go for it! Chances are you can make time learning to dance, writing a book, becoming a rock star, or whatever else it is you might be putting off. All you have to do is step up to the challenge and believe in yourself — just like camp.