Category: New Parent Information

Camp…More Than Ever

Posted by on July 1, 2021

Hello from Camp Woodland! We are SO EXCITED to be open for the summer 2021 season! You might say that we have been a little busy (hence the delay on getting our first blog out this week!).  After months of planning, and really two years of thinking about how camp would be this summer, opening day arrived. Finally, we were able to welcome girls to camp, introduce them to all the other amazing campers and staff members that make up this community, and begin to experience all the special aspects of camp life. “More than ever” seems to be an appropriate phrase. Given the feelings of loss, and many struggles imposed upon everyone by the pandemic, we all need camp more than ever.

The time outside, the laughter and smiling faces, the closeness of friendship, the hilarious silliness, the opportunity for fresh, real-world (tech-free) experience— yep, more than ever. You can already see it on the girls’ faces and hear it in their voices. They’re so happy to be here, so ready to play, to be carefree kids, and to enjoy the fun of camp. For the staff too, they missed this place and the simpler, more genuine life camp provides. This has always been true at Woodland, summer after summer, but this year, it’s even more so.

Thank you parents for helping make opening day go as smoothly as possible! Your attention to the details of our pre-camp protocols and instructions (so many forms! emails! messages!) really helped. We especially appreciate all the effort you put into keeping your camper/s healthy before arriving. We know some things were added burdens, but we think it was well worth the benefit it provides the whole camp community. So, THANK YOU!

One worry about this new procedure was that the campers would not have their parents to help settle them into their cabin. From the camper’s point of view, this turned out to be unjustified. This allowed everyone to set up their bunks together. A fun new group project was born, with the counselors and bunkmates helping make the whole cabin more comfortable. It’s amazing what colorful blankets, stuffed animals and a few personal items can do to make the cabin feel like “home”. And, we were able the launch the whole cabin group into action right away. A great thing!

As campers arrived, cabin groups enjoyed playing various games and exploring the main areas of camp. Having Dan’s famous mac-n-cheese for lunch was a much anticipated treat. Over the years this has become a favorite opening day meal because it is a true crowd pleaser. I think the secret is that mac-and-cheese is “comfort” food and makes campers feel like they are in a familiar place. And, because it was Saturday, there was pizza for dinner (double YUM)!

Over these first several days, time as a cabin has been important for creating a supportive group dynamic. General rules and good habits for getting along in such close living quarters are discussed and camper input is requested (better buy-in when you are able to help make the “rules”!). They have been working on “cabin contracts” that can help address disagreements and guide their interactions positively. For example, a cabin may agree that you should ask permission before sitting on another person’s bed as part of showing respect.

The lake was a popular spot on Opening Weekend! The lifeguards and cabin counselors of course took time to explain the safety procedures of the waterfront area and answer everyone’s questions about how to make the most of the swimming opportunities at camp— the raft, diving board, “floating” mats, log roll, tubing, Big Banana and other fun free swim activities. Is the water cold?! We always choose to say that it is “refreshing!”

At its core, camp is about connection. It’s about taking a break from our screens, and discovering the beauty of nature that’s been there all along. It’s about the joy of friendship found in simple shared experience. In these ways and others, camp is such a relief. And yes, this summer, that’s true more than ever!

Reference: RBC

Summer 2021: A Time to Dip Your Toes in the Socialization Pool

Posted by on May 20, 2021

After more than a year of quarantines, restrictions, isolation, reduced/weird social interactions, etc., we know that kids desperately need socialization with their peers. We are also aware there is a concern out there from students heading to any school that will be in-person next year (including college) that they will face almost full/constant socialization (classes, cafeterias, sports and other activities, buses, dorm rooms) and need to be “on” all the time after this past year of having almost zero socialization and being “off” all the time.

Those who are fortunate enough to go to camp in general and this summer specifically, will be able to dip their toes in the socialization pool. They will get to practice interacting more regularly with peers before facing their next school year. This will be especially beneficial for those kids who have had an especially isolating year at home and/or are facing a big transition next year. This could be going to a new school, whether because of regular advancement (middle to high school, for example), moving, or other life change.

The good news is that this practice of interacting with peers will be a gradual process at Camp Woodland this summer. Campers will not be thrown into the deep end of the socialization pool without adjusting to shallow water first. Because the first few days of camp will have us sticking to our cabin pods, this will allow a unique opportunity for campers to test the waters of a small group before diving in with the great camp community after our “bubble” has been established.

IT ALWAYS STARTS WITH THE CABIN GROUP (THEN AND NOW)

The cabin group at Woodland has always been one of thoughtful intention and purpose (even pre-pandemic). There are 2-3 counselors who will be carefully selected as a team to work with each age group. Together they establish the culture within the cabin so that campers feel welcome, comfortable and cared for. They will choose a cabin theme that represents their group and will clean and decorate the cabin to make it feel “homey” and inviting. Each camper will have “space” to make their own on a top or bottom bunk and designated places store their “stuff”. The counselors will be ready to help campers navigate unpacking and settling in which is an important step for acclimating to their summer home.

The counselors will be trained during their 2-week pre-camp orientation on group dynamics and will have a back pocket full of fun games and activities to start the process of evolving their cabin group (6-10 girls of similar age) into a community (a unified body of friends). This does not happen overnight, of course, but these intentional activities over time will help campers in the same cabin make introductions and connections, establish a code for group living, create a framework for communication, and provide opportunities for teamwork and trust.

COMING TOGETHER IS A BEGINNING (TOES INTO THE WATER FIRST)

The initial few days for all cabin groups are a time for campers to get to know one another and adjust to their new environment. Both returning and new campers are eager to see what camp is about, to make friends, and to belong. Counselors will help campers make introductions and find connections with others in a nonthreatening way. Name games, ice-melters, and other get-to-know-you activities assist campers in discovering commonalities with each other at a surface level until the group is ready to share at a deeper level.

We find that campers often stick with what is comfortable and familiar at the beginning when getting involved in the camp program (moving close to the water but not getting wet). This is perfectly OK. They will have the opportunity to branch out more as the summer unfolds and their comfort and confidence levels increase. The start of the camp season is the golden opportunity for counselors to set expectations and establish routines for cabin group meetings and discussions that will be the building blocks for future work and play together.

The fun of camp is just beginning – toes are being dipped into the socialization pool!

KEEPING TOGETHER IS PROGRESS (WADE IN A LITTLE FURTHER AND GET SPLASHED)

Once toes are wet and a foundation is in place, campers are ready to wade further into the water. Here we will gradually introduce mingling with others outside the cabin group for activities and other camp events. Campers will be eager to explore and try new things. Activities will be designed that allow them to do this in an age-appropriate way.

Campers may be ready to go beyond the surface and share on a more meaningful level after spending quality time and having frequent interaction with their cabin group. Guidelines will be established by the counselors so that each person has a chance to participate equally and fairly. The important work of practicing communication skills will take place, especially sharing and listening, so the group is able to have a peaceful discussion when things aren’t going so well and to work through issues as they arise.

Camp is even more fun after wading in further and getting splashed a bit!

STAYING TOGETHER IS SUCCESS (DIVE IN DEEP)

Once a group has experienced the success of moving past challenging times and is working well together, they will enjoy their cohesiveness and move into deeper water. Being in the “deep end” typically means that groups have the ability communicate well, work as a team, and trust each other. Campers will exhibit confidence and independence and stand taller than they did at the beginning of their camp experience. (If you don’t believe me, look at camper photos at the beginning and end of a session — the change can be remarkable!)

The best of each camper will combine to form a strong team, and it can be difficult for them to go their separate ways after taking this journey together. It is amazing how strong those bonds can be, especially when campers stay for a longer period of time, because of the growth that is made after reaching the other side of struggles and conflicts. This intentionality fosters the evolution of a group of campers into a unified community. Counselors will help campers put closure on their camp experience and transition to what comes next (returning to home and school).

Camp is the most fun at the end because of taking a deep dive with the friends who are now family. Campers will have had lots of practice interacting with their peers over the course of the camp season and will leave with confidence to face the next school year!

Thank you to Liz Kunkle for suggesting this topic and giving examples of what kids will be facing in the months ahead (see first two paragraphs)!

Reference: acacamps.org/resource-library/camping-magazine/slinky-smurf-evolving-groups-communities

The Blessing of the Least Favorite Activity

Posted by on April 22, 2021

Wendy Mogel’s best selling book, The Blessing of a Skinned Knee, resonates with parents and camp leaders alike. Dr. Mogel has spoken at camp conferences over the years, and she continues to be active in the camp community. If you haven’t had a chance to read The Blessing of a Skinned Knee, we highly recommend it. In addition to sharing about the importance of letting our kids take healthy risks, and not always rescuing them from failure, Mogel gives many other valuable insights. She has recognized the value of camp experiences in the development of emotionally healthy kids, as you can read in the article “Camp Blessings” on her website.

A question we often get asked, especially by kids who haven’t yet been to Woodland, is “What if I don’t want to do an activity?” Sometimes it starts with a statement, “I don’t like horses or I’m not good at tennis. Do I have to do that activity?”

Our answer to that question is that you don’t HAVE to take a particular activity, and this year we will also say that you GET to go with your cabin group and will be encouraged to TRY most activities. Because the first few days of camp will have us sticking to our cabin pods, this will allow a unique opportunity for campers to really see firsthand what each activity is about (instead of relying on their own preconceived notions or parent influence) before committing to a schedule of 6 activities for a 2-week period.

There are several reasons kids are reluctant to do a particular activity, and they are the same reasons why adults often choose to forgo some recreational options:

1.  A previous negative experience with the activity, usually not at camp and not with experienced instructors.

 

Falling off a horse, not getting up on water skis after several tries, or getting rained out on a camping trip are all examples of negative experiences that make a person naturally inclined not to want to try again.

2.  Fear!

Fear of being humiliated. Fear of failure. Fear of heights. Fear of lake water. Fear of animals. Fear of going to the bathroom in the woods. Fear of getting hurt. The list goes on and on.

3.  Based on their perception of themselves or their past successes/failures, they think they won’t like it.

No point in giving an activity another go if it is not in their normal repertoire of things youth like and/or are good at. It is also our experience that kids often think they should be proficient at something on the first try. If an activity was attempted at one time with minimal success, then the activity is often taken off the list completely for future consideration.

There are other reasons for kids to not want to do an activity, but these are three that readily come to mind from what campers have told us over the years. Interestingly, the reasons kids don’t want to do an activity are the very reason for trying the activity and may be the best thing that happens at camp for that camper.

If a child doesn’t want to do an activity because of a previous negative activity, trying it at camp could lead to either a changed mind (and a new activity they like) or, at the very least, a not-as-negative experience to remember. We believe that “it takes a lot of slow to grow” and that it may take time (and failure) before experiencing success. Woodland staff are good at breaking down various skills and recognizing incremental progress – no matter how small the “win”. They also measure success by the ruler of the individual and not someone else’s ruler.

If a camper doesn’t want to do an activity because of fear, then trying the activity could be the most life-changing event that occurs for that camper during their camp stay. Overcoming fears and challenging oneself to attempt something that seems impossible can lead to great feelings of accomplishment and improved confidence. With the support and encouragement from cabin mates and counselors, campers feel on top of the world after successfully trying something they feared.

For the camper with a fear of maneuvering a sailboat on a windy day, getting in a boat day after day with a qualified instructor and learning the necessary skills in more manageable conditions will go a long way towards building self-assurance. Small steps lead to bigger steps over time for trusting one’s own abilities to handle a boat in less desirable weather. This is an example of working up to do something hard that leads to something good, a theme Dr. Mogel stresses. The camp environment offers a supportive place for kids to learn how to overcome fears and accomplish things they didn’t think were possible (and develop a newfound enjoyment for an activity that initially caused worry or anxiety!).

If a camper doesn’t want to do an activity because they don’t think they’ll like it based on their preferences or perception of themselves, trying something different offers an opportunity for expanded confidence. Campers who see themselves as non-athletic and more adept at target sports may shy away from the more physical activities. Yet trying and accomplishing them could change self-perception in a positive way. Campers who don’t perceive themselves as “outdoorsy” may dread going on a canoe trip. It is quite possible that the experience of cooking and sleeping outdoors could lead to an expanded view of oneself and an appreciation for the many different facets of a personality.

Sometimes, the activity a camper thought would be their least favorite becomes a favorite!

So, when a camper tells us all the reasons why they “don’t want to” or “can’t” do an activity this summer, we will continue to encourage them to “give it a try,” because we know the hidden blessings in the least favorite activity.

Reference: https://goldarrowcamp.com/the-blessing-of-the-least-favorite-activity/

We are…BETTER TOGETHER

Posted by on March 18, 2021

When people ask me what is special about camp, I often pause . . . I don’t pause because I can’t think of what to say or because I don’t know what makes Camp Woodland for Girls and Towering Pines for Boys special. Rather, I pause because I can think of SO many remarkable things, and it is extremely difficult to share just ONE reason why I believe our camps are amazingly special.  I could go on and on and on . . .

But what I want to do is to give people a very specific reply so that they will walk away understanding my passion and belief in what Woodland and Towering Pines have to offer to the many campers and staff who live here, work here and call it home for several weeks each summer. I want to tell them it’s a “magical” place because in many ways to those of us who “live” camp, it truly is. However, the magic only happens because we very intentionally create an environment at camp that enables campers and staff to share experiences that they will carry with them for a lifetime.

Camp encourages each person to foster individuality enabling the development of unique skills and talents. It also promotes skill progression in a variety of areas that inspire setting individual goals, working to attain these, and enjoying small and big successes along the way. But within this context, camp also nurtures a group of individuals who come together to create a common culture that promotes community. This community becomes connected through the plethora of planned activities, special events, outdoor adventures, cabin nights, group meals and much more. Kids have the opportunity to learn through exceptional experiences and purposeful play.

I asked my daughter who was a camper at Woodland a few years ago, why she feels it is important for us to get back to camp in the Summer of ’21.  Her reply was this, “Mom, camp people are just BETTER TOGETHER.” Wow. Those words are extraordinarily impactful.  Two simple words, but so incredibly true. We can function on our own and even thrive, but when we are at camp TOGETHER, we seem to learn more and bring out the best in one another.

When we are together, we learn tolerance, patience, forgiveness, negotiation, understanding, acceptance, perseverance, commitment and so much more. All of these shared experiences and lessons that are learned are taken out into the world and shared, and their effect is exponential. Thankfully, camp will happen again as we anxiously await “Here Comes the Sun in ’21.” So come join us this summer, where we will be creating a community in which we can flourish as individuals but be even BETTER TOGETHER as a camp family!!”

Register now to have a summer that lasts a lifetime .  .  .

by Angie Ziller, TP Mom and CWTP Leadership Team

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/