Camp Woodland Blog

Six Ways Camp Can Help You Focus in 2020

Happy New Year!

Not only is it a new year; it is also a new DECADE. I love that this year is 2020 because that gives us even more impetus to become crystal clear about what we would like to focus on in the year ahead. In addition, 2020 is a leap year, which means that we have an extra day to take actions towards becoming the type of person we would like to be for ourselves and our families.

In reading the daily blog I receive in my inbox from Growing Leaders, I couldn’t help but think about the recommendations the author was making to becoming intentional with raising kids in 2020. Tim Elmore believes that the “problem is not intention; we all intend to raise good kids. Our problem is hectic lifestyles. We become so busy—we unwittingly shift into defensive mode. We stop playing offense and play defense; we began reacting to all the events, payments, and the demands that today’s “system” places upon us. We fail to heed our intentions and turn them into intentionality.”

Elmore offers a starter list for leading your kids intentionally this new year, and I am going to add to it with how Camp Woodland is already intentional with each of these points.

1. Determine screen time and its replacement.

This is the most common categories that parents get off track and fail to lead their kids—especially their teens. Part of the reason for the mental health challenges kids face today is social media and the high number of hours teens spend on a portable device. Dr. Jean Twenge notes that two hours or more per day puts them at a greater risk of anxiety and depression. Less than two hours a day makes them less vulnerable to such mental health issues.

At Camp Woodland, we believe that outside is the place to be! We take advantage of being in a natural setting by unplugging and communicating using real ‘face-time. Campers tell us that they enjoy the break from being tethered to a device. What a treat to hang out with friends from sun-up to sun-down! 

2. Determine family time and what will be engaging.

Studies have shown that families who enjoy meals together also enjoy greater satisfaction and less stress than those who don’t. As our kids were growing up we tried to schedule at least three dinners a week at our kitchen table. When they were teens we also tried to insert at least one monthly family date. This meant we limited their extra-curricular activities to one per semester.

We eat 3 squares a day with our cabin group. If you do the math, that is 21 meals together in a week which is UNHEARD OF in today’s busy world! There is nothing better than the exchange that occurs as we share with each about our daily successes and challenges while getting the fuel we need to keep us strong for active days at camp. 

3. Determine financial boundaries.

This one is tough because we are frequently guilty of merely reacting to bills and invoices instead of planning our spending. We follow this simple rule: give first, save second, and live on the rest. This means we choose the charitable giving we want to do and decide our amount each month; then we put money in savings, and then we see what we have left to cover all else. This offers a guideline for the emotional conversation about buying “stuff” for your kids.

Our tuition fee is mostly all-inclusive. Regular programming for daily activities (like horseback riding) and services (such as laundry) are included in the cost to come to camp. We’ve got you covered for snacks and other incidentals. There truly is no need for anything else during your camper’s stay with us. The best thing you can send is a weekly letter or Bunk Note!

4. Determine service projects.

As our kids grew older it became more challenging to do this one together. But, we attempted to schedule one time a month to find a place to serve together. It may be a homeless shelter; it may be a local food pantry, or a department in a local church. For years, we sponsored a child overseas (in Africa) to fund his or her education and personal needs. This gave us perspective on our own “first world problems” and conditioned to be generous and grateful.

We believe that kindness really does matter! Being kind to one another with words and actions is part of the fabric of living in our camp community and the service project we embark on all throughout the summer. Campers bring the spirit of kindness back home to their families, schools, and world.

5. Determine growth and quiet time.

We didn’t do this as regularly as we should have. But after researching the topic, I believe kids (especially Generation Z) need time when it’s quiet. This can be reading time; or journaling time, or a project where they learn to think critically. Neuroscientists say silence and solitude cultivate creativity and empathy in us. This counter-cultural act won’t make sense at first to adolescents. I’m convinced that it will foster peace of mind.

We incorporate rest hour into our daily schedule. We recognize the need to give our bodies and mind time to just “be”. The hour after lunch is designated as the official camp-wide time for rest. Campers can choose to nap, read a book, write letters, or just enjoy some down time. Hanging out at the beach during Free Swim is another potential time for a slower pace if desired. Rest hour is personally my favorite time of day and something I try to incorporate into my schedule in the off-season!

6. Determine work time and chores.

If you don’t plan this, it usually doesn’t happen with most tweens and teens. I believe it is healthy for every family member to contribute to the family, by doing age-appropriate tasks around the home—and eventually working a job.

Cabin clean-up and other community chores are also part of our daily schedule. Every morning after breakfast we go back to the cabin where each camper makes her own bed and tidies up her area in addition to contributing to keeping the communal living space clean by sweeping, putting away clutter, taking dry clothing off the clothesline, etc. Cabin groups take turns for a week at a time to set tables in the dining hall prior to each meal. We also divide the camp into various areas that cabin groups will check weekly for any left items or trash on the ground. The CIT’s even cook a pancake breakfast outside on a Sunday morning! Parents often tell us that they are amazed at how their camper will make her bed or put dishes away without being asked after returning from camp!