Category: Why Camp Woodland?!

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/

Not too late to make good on New Year’s Resolutions!

At the closing of another year, we had the opportunity to ask campers and staff what gets them excited for Summer 2021 and to share some goals they have set for themselves to make it the best summer yet! Among the top resolutions that are made at the start of each New Year, some of the most common goals can be met while having an AMAZING experience at Camp Woodland:

Eat Healthy: Instead of serving processed food, we provide meals made from “scratch” using the freshest ingredients. No powdered eggs here!

Amelia D. – Aquarius (age 17): be hostess of the year

 

Get Moving: Being a fixture on the couch is not an option during a Woodland summer. All of us are active at camp and get plenty of exercise in the great outdoors. We use our feet to take us just about everywhere we need to go!

Aria – Sunrise (age 7): pass out of swimming
Caroline C. – Treetops (age 13): My goal is to pass out of swimming too!!
Maddie -Sunrise (age 9): to pass my pony club

Reduce Stress: Camp is a great way to “unplug” from the constant “noise” of text messages, emails, and other social media. It is also a time to put the pressures of school and grades aside and just enjoy living in the moment. Above all, camp is FUN!!

Izzi C. – Driftwood (age 18 ): stay in the present and take it all in
Claire and Caroline P. – Aquarius & Treetops (counselors): To appreciate every second
Molly J. – Tamarack (counselor): Make it the best summer yet 🙂
Sam M. – 1st yr (counselor): Have an amazing summer with new and old friends!

 

Try Something New: With a variety of physical, recreational, and creative activities to choose from, campers have the opportunity to explore a wide range of interests. Who knows what spark will ignite and become a lifelong career or hobby?!

Sydney H. – Starshine (age 10): Learn how to do a backflip
Masyn– 1st year camper (age 7): Ride a horse
Sydney L. – Treetops (age 13): Try something new
Isabella S. – Tamarack (age 15): to try any activities I haven’t done and have the most fun I could possibly have

Spend More Time With Friends: Imagine spending 24 hours a day each week with a group of your closest friends…how AWESOME is that?! We believe in true “face time” versus “screen time”!

Tess W. – Tamarack (age 14): make a new friend
Maya S. – Tamarack (age 15): become closer with many people
Daphne B. – Sunrise (counselor): make someone smile everyday

Get Along With Siblings: Towering Pines and Woodland is the summer home for many brothers and sisters. The older campers typically take responsibility and look out for the younger ones and the “fighting” often seen at home vanishes for a few weeks. Siblings actually look forward to seeing one another on occasion when sharing a common camp experience!

New Year’s Resolution:
Enroll your child at Camp Woodland for 2021…we are VERY EXCITED about the upcoming summer!

Irene M. – Driftwood (18): Give my campers the best summer ever
Aubrie B. – Sunnyside (age 15): to be an amazing CIT
Tori N. – Sunnyside (age 15): be a good CIT
Abbey S. – Driftwood (18): To be an amazing counselor/ Sailing staff
Mera M. – Aquarius (counselor): Do my best to give my cabin their best summer ever

Enroll Now!

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!