Author: Kim Aycock

The Magic of Camp: Hard to Understand & Hard to Explain

Follow us down memory lane… back to when you were little and saw your first magic trick. You didn’t really understand it, you couldn’t fully explain it, but you know that it amazed you and exceeded all your expectations of what you thought was going to happen. This is one way to explain camp to those who have never been. For people who have never experienced it, it is hard to understand the obsession that is camp. And those who are part of it, can never fully explain it. They definitely know that it was amazing and that it exceeded all their expectations.

So what is this MAGIC of Camp?! Let’s see if we can TRY to explain…

CONFIDENCE

Schools have tried, parents have tried, friends have tried, but the way that camp can bring out a child’s inner confidence is magical. It can sometimes be a hidden gem in a child that camp manages to find and bring out.

LOYALTY

It’s the magic of friendship that camp teaches children. Your bunkmates quickly become your family and your loyalty to them is extreme and it is real.

RESPONSIBILITY

The magic of camp is that children grow up more in 6 short weeks than they do throughout the whole year. It’s no longer a nagging parent that instructs a kid to do their duties (brushing teeth, clearing the table, making the bed), rather it is the child who takes on responsibilities to take care of herself, to take care of her belongings, and so much more.

BRAVERY

Arriving to an unfamiliar place that first day requires a new level of braveness that children have yet to experience at that age. Once at camp, being in this magical place, kids are able to conquer their own fears of touching the bottom of the lake, going on a hike, signing up for sailing or riding, or even just trying new foods.

TEAMWORK

Camp is a magical community and doesn’t function without the happiness, spirit, and personalities of each camper. Whether it is partnering up with a new friend, working together on an Olympics team, or just sitting by the lake, the bonds in this community are unlike most others.

SECOND FAMILY

Living in a place where you are surrounded by dozens of people who genuinely want you to be your best self is magical. Camp creates a second family in which children find role models to look up to, people who look after them, and a place where kids learn the great life skills and values from great people.

ACCEPTING OTHERS

Camp is a place where being called “weird” is one of the biggest complements one could accept. Children learn to open up their eyes to people similar and different from them. Camp teaches everyone to find the magic within each other. There is magic within each person, camp just helps people see it.

SPORTSMANSHIP

It is just as fun to lose as it is to win at camp. Camp teaches the magic of focusing on the positives of every situation. You can ask any coach, teaching sportsmanship is not an easy task, but somehow camp counselors have mastered this. Children actually cheer on the opposite team as much as they cheer on their own. Now that is MAGIC.

LIVING IN THE MOMENT

In this day and age children are surrounded by technology, electronics, and are always diving into the “next thing.” At camp, life slows down. Each day, children learn the magic of embracing the moment, making the best of each day, and being outdoors and in nature. It is not about doing an activity so you can Instagram it, it is about doing an activity because it is fun. Camp brings back the magic of the world that isn’t based around technology.

HAPPINESS

We often hear parents ask if we put something special in the water at camp that makes every kid so happy. Camp makes kids smile a little wider, makes their adrenaline rush a little harder, makes their nose crinkle a little more from laughing too hard, and truly makes their heart beat a little faster. If that isn’t magic, then we are not sure what is!

We have yet to learn the magic trick that lets campers stay at camp for 12 months of the year… but we are working on it!

REGISTER NOW for Summer 2021!

Adapted from: https://www.summer365.com/the-magic-tricks-of-sleepaway-camp/

Room at the Kid’s Table

With the holidays upon us, I can think back to a time when there was a designated kid’s table for our family gatherings. I often sat at a separate, usually smaller, table with my younger siblings and cousins. We laughed. We joked. We cut up. We hung spoons from our noses. We liked having space between us and them (the adults).

 

 

At some point, I graduated to the “grown up’s” table and thought that I had arrived. It was some sort of rite of passage to “move up” to the place where I was no longer seen as a child. I quickly realized; however, that the grown-up’s table was not really all that I had imagined it to be. The adults were busy rehashing politics or telling stories about people I didn’t know. I did a lot of listening and very little talking. I glanced back at the kid’s table with envy. It looked to be so much more fun over there!

One of my favorite aspects of summer camp is that every table is a kid’s table. While there are counselors at each table who act as the adults to help with serving and clearing, these near-peer figures are really good at intentionally building community as we come together daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Campers are engaged in conversations with each other about their day, successes & challenges, goals & dreams. Table games are played, songs are sung, and inside jokes are formed. Laughter is the result of this shared group experience over an extended period of time.

 

In a 6-week summer, this adds up to around 5000 minutes of time during meals alone when a sense of belonging is created for the individuals within a group. Woodland staff are experts at bringing together 6-10 “me’s” and transforming unique individuals into a united  “we” one meal at a time. This is not accidental. Intention is the key ingredient for these mealtime gatherings away from parents and other adults.

 

At Camp Woodland, one doesn’t have to wish to sit at the kid’s table. Regardless of age, the kid’s table always has room. Don’t be surprised if we hang spoons from our noses (or put them in our hair for the greatly anticipated game of “Spoon Tag”). No need to become a grown-up too soon!

 

 

 

 

 

Choose Camp: Vote for Camp Woodland

 

It goes without saying that you have seen your share of political ads over the past several weeks and months. More than likely, these ads are telling you something about the choices you should make on November 3rd.  So, instead of advising you who to vote for, we would like to give you a better choice this year. We want you to CHOOSE CAMP!img_7754Here at Camp Woodland, we actually care about the thing that most politicians only pretend to pay attention to – your kids and your family. Our goal in what we to do is to help kids get outside and explore nature, make new friends and connect with their peers face-to-face instead of through a screen, and to try new things and gain confidence. Regardless of who you vote for, make a great choice by choosing camp. We can’t wait to see you this summer!

CAMP TODAY – THRIVE TOMORROW!

ENROLL HERE FOR SUMMER 2021

We are Camp Woodland and we approve this message.

 

A Spooky Woodland Tale

With Halloween having been celebrated along with a blue moon this past weekend, ghost stories are certainly on our minds. Did you know that we have a spooky tale of our own at Woodland? If you take a leisurely stroll around the outskirts of the cabin area, you may stumble across something slightly amiss. One of the farthest boundaries of camp that is not off-limits to campers is behind the Hilltop cabin. Many curious campers have ventured back to that enchanted, peaceful place to enjoy the beauty of the North Woods just to end up with a sudden feeling of unease. It trickles down your spine like water from a slow dripping spigot as you creep around the bend and something strange catches your eye. 

Right there in the gloom is a lonely set of abandoned stairs. Three stone steps that lead to nowhere. “What could that be?” you ask yourself and, “why is it still here?” The HILLTOP STAIRS have become a favorite spooky destination for campers and counselors alike, all of whom try to make sense of their existence. There are many different theories floating around in the camp community as to what they could be from; some spooky, some silly, some downright ridiculous. 

Daphne (counselor extraordinaire) shared two of the most classic versions of the story with us, “I have heard it burned down from a candle and the ghosts still haunt the stairs. I have also heard that three girls left a hair straightener plugged in when they went out one night.” Both versions provide a nice cautionary tale against fire hazards.

JoAnne of course has a theory that she shares with us at a special campfire every summer. Her story explains the phenomena of our brown tinted Sand lake, leeches, and the Hilltop stairs all in one. History states that the stairs belonged to a big old coffee factory that burned down. All of the workers in the factory then turned into lake gnomes and took up residence as leeches in Sand Lake. So tradition goes that if you are fortunate enough to get a leech, you are really freeing a lake gnome.

No one will ever fully understand the true origin of those beautifully creepy stairs, but whichever story you prefer, it is definitely a spot to visit at Woodland…if you dare! Towering Pines has a spooky tale of its own – best stick close to your counselor when you hear the sharp clanging of metal on metal, echoing across Lake!

Calla Dellinger Craze

What Camp Woodland Can Do That Google Cannot

In a blog I read recently by Growing Leaders (excerpts are italicized below), Dr. Tim Elmore talks about how parenting, teaching, and coaching are different today, not because kids are different but because the culture is different. We are raising them in a society where Siri and Alexa offer quick answers, creating eight-second attention spans and expectations that solutions should be instantaneous and that life should be entertaining.

It’s not our kids’ fault, but it is our kids’ reality. (most definitely!)

We are at a fork in the road. We can either choose to compete with today’s on-demand, instant access entertainment or we can choose to offer what the digital world cannot. We must adapt to the world they’re growing up in, but we don’t have to adopt every new trend that surfaces along the way. Adapting simply means we recognize what kids gain from this new world and we complement it.

Kids today experience a Google reflex. (I have a Google reflex myself! You?)

Kids are asking Google questions they used to ask adults in their world. What we must recognize is kids don’t lack information. They don’t need us for that; Alexa actually knows more than I do most of the time. They need us for interpretation. All the sources of content they access can offer information, but not a worldview with which to interpret that information. Young people are drowning in information but starving for wisdom.

There is no downtime. They’re screenagers, always on and always online. They spend more time reacting to content than reflecting on content. And because there are so many posts, it leaves a little margin to invest time in any one issue. A wealth of information creates a poverty of attention. So, our responsibility is not to compete against this but to compliment it by offering what they still lack.

Dr. Elmore states that “Our goal should not be to compete but to complete.” To this end, he gives a list of 7 things that young people need more than ever today. It just so happens that every item on his list represents one of our core values, the very foundation for our program at Camp Woodland for Girls since 1970.

1. Authentic and transparent relationships.

We provide opportunities for genuine connections to form within the Camp Woodland community. Cabin groups allow for a special bond to occur between similar aged campers and 2-3 counselors. Younger campers look up to and are mentored by older campers in activities. There is nothing but “real” face time as we engage in conversations where it is important to read and interpret social cues and communicate compassionately.

2. Interactive learning experiences.

We learn to sail, ride a horse, shoot a bow, do a forward roll, take care of farm animals, create in arts & crafts, paddle across the lake, dance, put together a play, and so much more without a single YouTube video or Zoom lesson. We navigate the ups and downs that come with the creation and duration of friendships.

3. Empathy.

“You think your backpack is the heaviest until you pick up someone else’s by mistake.” (Cynthia Copeland Lewis)

4. Significant people in their lives.

Being around near-peers (5-10-15 years removed), campers make connections with counselor and staff role models who by their example inspire confidence and growth towards what is possible.

5. Travel experiences to someplace they’ve not been.

We bring campers and staff together from all corners of the globe. Our camp community represents a variety of geographic locations, ages, backgrounds, values, interests, and socio-economic status. Being exposed to different cultures makes us more empathetic and understanding. As a result we are better able to work collaboratively with those who have a different view or perspective.

6. Growth guided by questions.

We provide hands-on learning through discovery and exploration. What if…?, how about…? and why? are always welcome. Guided trial-and-error mixed in with developmentally appropriate challenges are the best teachers of both the technical and people skills gained from the Woodland experience.

7. Autonomy in the goals they set.

Having the opportunity to make decisions that are not influenced by parents and teachers gives campers a sense of independence in their voice and choice. Selecting activities, pursuing friendships, setting and reaching goals, planning camp-wide events, and caring for self are just some of the ways campers have a vote in their overall experience.

Camp today. Thrive tomorrow.

We never take for granted the unique role we play in the lives of our campers. Camp Woodland is a place where kids learn, grow and develop in a positive community (we spend a good chunk of our time OUTSIDE and without the pressures of society and technology!). The skills campers learn last far beyond their years at camp and specifically help them in school, when they attend college, and in their first jobs (and there is research to back this up!). Camp Woodland is an experience that sets up young people for success as they enter adulthood.

Camp Woodland does what Google cannot.

To read the entire Growing Leaders blog: What Parents and Teachers Can Do that Google Cannot