Summer camp was one of the best, most formative experiences of my life. At least, in hindsight it was. At the time it was simply…The. Most. Fun. Ever. For one glorious month, I lived in an idyllic camp deep in the woods of Maine with tons of kids my age, cute and funny counselors, fresh air, fun and games, and really good food. Looking back, here are the awesome life skills camp instilled in me.
Oh, and…I also learned how to orchestrate the switcheroo of twin sisters (Is it any coincidence my first two books are based on that premise?), how to smuggle candy in care packages, and how to play in a rock band.
Long story short: Send your kids to camp.
Maya Rodale is the author of multiple historical romance novels, as well as the nonfiction book Dangerous Books for Girls: The Bad Reputation of Romance Novels, Explained. She has a Master’s degree from New York University and lives in Manhattan with her darling dog and a rogue of her own.Her latest book is The Tattooed Duke. Learn more at mayarodale.com.
For more from Maria Rodale, go to www.mariasfarmcountrykitchen.com
1) It creates a difference
camp persona is different then your regular persona. A different name will support you in creating
a campy-self for camp time and transitioning back to being yourself.
Your standard persona
may not even know who “Camp Name” is, nor those games and songs which “Camp Name”
did during the summer. And your camp persona certainly doesn’t know the personal
life of you.
It creates a difference for parents.
that camp is not the same year-round experience and is not just like child-care.
expectations around camp means giving them cues which match those expectations,
and camp names are a part of that.
3) It creates a difference
Teacher-student relationship defines a set of norms, which include a power
structure, denoted by the “Mr. / Mrs.” formal naming conventions. (Power is not the only way to have respect.) The
Camper-counselor is a different relationship. Your camp name will open your
interactions to different norms.
Be culturally sensitive. It
is common to think of using Native American sounding words, please resist
unless it is part of your native culture. Likewise with any culture, religion,
or cherished value of another
8 Tips for Transitions at Summer Camp: Transition is the time for creativity!
Avoid LINES!Avoid WAITING!Avoid NOT BEING PREPARED TO GRAB ATTENTION AND THEN MOVE THE GROUP!
Use these tips to help get your group moving and make transitions less stressful!
1. Move – Waiting sucks. I believe Camp Staff should NEVER say the words “We aren’t leaving till everyone is standing in a straight line!”.
2. Camp Counselors say “Let’s Go.” And then they go. Have the other staff get the stragglers, but don’t wait.
3. Once you are moving adjust speed to re-group while in transit: The group will stretch. Stop and let the tail catch up, it’s even better if you stop for a reason.. find a STOP (spontaneous Teaching opportunity present).
4. People don’t walk in straight lines, it’s unnatural. – when campers are outside why a line? If a line is needed (for safety on a staircase, to play a game, or to get through a pay booth… ok, fine. But lines should be AVOIDED in camps.)
5. Be Creative – Play Mission Impossible, hit spots of high or low gravity, formulate a new dance crazy. Transitions should not be stressful, but are great opportunities to be creative and use our imaginations. Campers are great at coming up with ideas… once you make this the norm.
6. Where are we going –tell them where we are going (unless you’re playing a game, kidnapping, or surprise event).
7. Program it. –a scavenger hunt, a mystery map, a treasure map, or a rainbow walk (calling out something of each color of the rainbow, can’t take the same as another camper already took). It doesn’t need to be with a piece of paper and a pen, but could open up campers eyes to the natural wonders around them. Tell me the first bird you see, tell me the color of the first flower you see, let me know when you hear an airplane. Tell the campers to pay attention on the walk and when you get to the destination have them write down everything they heard, saw and smelled.
8. Don’t rush it. –Transition times are a great opportunity for us to get to know our campers, to teach a song to practice along the way, to play word games, minute mysteries, brain teasers, TALK – ask about camper’s lives, likes, and hobbies.
As I have recently been teaching this topic, I did some reading to refreash myself. I love this blog posted by Dave, Director of Association Programs for the YMCA of Greater Charlotte and regional camp specialist for Y-USA. This is a good blogger to follow if you’re in the camp industry. Thanks Dave for great articles…
Wednesday, May 18, 2011Top Ten Tips For Awesome Assemblies At Summer Camp:
Assembly time is a tradition at Day Camp’s across the country and even though you might not call them assemblies at Resident or Overnight Camp we still have times where the entire camp is together for a “pep rally” type event whether that is in the dining hall at meal time or at an evening campfire event. Here are some tips that I have learned and borrowed over the years of leading day and resident camp programs.
Have a Good MC – if your assembly or gathering time is going to be successful you need someone on the microphone who can get and keep the audiences attention, is comfortable talking in front of people, is entertaining and most importantly knows when to stop talking. The MC is not the main event, but the main event is effective if the MC is not good.
Organize Ahead of Time – this is not an improv event and I bet most of our staff are not professional improv performers. If you want your assembly to go well it needs to be planned out ahead of time. You can delegate your assembly to staff members if you want, but make sure you follow up to see that is being planned and done well. If you have themes for your week this will help with the organization process.
Get Them Singing – high energy songs with motions that get our campers up on their feet will make your assembly go so much better. I encourage staff to go from one song to the next quickly so the camper and staff do not have an opportunity to get disengaged. You don’t need a lot of songs, but 3 to 4 for every assembly will keep the energy level up.
Define the Purpose – why do we assemblies? I do them because it gives all the campers a shared experience and it gives me, the camp director, an opportunity to coach our campers and staff all at the same time. Teaching time at camp doesn’t just happen during devotion time. Define your purpose for why you do assembly and make sure you are meeting that purpose.
Make It Flow – once you have defined your purpose then we can organize the flow of the assembly or gathering. Do you want to start them out easy and then build the energy throughout so they leave completely pumped up or do you want to start out slow, build up through the middle and bring it back down at the end? You decide what works best for your summer camp.
Copy the WWE – if you don’t watch professional wrestling you are missing a great teaching opportunity. Whenever a wrestler is about to enter the ring they begin to play their theme song and before the audience even sees them they are going crazy because they know his song. Get each of your staff to pick a theme song and you never have to introduce anyone again, just play their song and the campers will know who is coming.
Recurring Characters – many summer camps do skits throughout the summer and recurring characters are a good way to build some energy among the campers and staff. Cheer for the good guys, boo the bad guys, laugh at the goofy characters – but recurring characters are memory makers and retention tools for our campers.
Involve the Campers – I am a big fan of camper v. counselor challenges during assembly. Blowing up a balloon with your nose the fastest, eating kool-aid mix dry with your finger, the list can go on and on. If you don’t have ideas just check out the latest episode of Minute to Win It for great camper v. counselor challenges.
Keep Them Guessing – if your campers are coming back week after week they shouldn’t be able to guess exactly what is happening next in the assembly. Mix it up, change the order, new songs, new challenges, new characters are all ways we can keep our assemblies fresh for our returning campers.
Make it Fun – assemblies should be fun for our campers as well as our counselors. It takes work to be funny and creative. Assembly time can be one of the most memorable times of the day at camp and we should reflect that in the effort we put in to planning a fun event.
I am not the king of assemblies, but over the years I have seen enough good and bad ones to know what works and what doesn’t. I think you can get some great ideas from children’s tv shows, professional wrestling and reality type shows. If you have some more tips please share.
Posted by Dave at 2:48 PM
By Harvard pianist and mathematician, Tom Lehrer.
Everyone’s taxes are different… so only you or your CPA can decide if any tax law applies to you; but here are some things to look into:
Subsidy Programs: Parents can ask if the camp participates in income-eligible subsidy programs. In this case camps can charge on a scale and subsidize the campers.
Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account: When child care expenses (for qualified dependents)are necessary to allow parents to work, look for work, or to attend school full time you may be elegible for a Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account which allows parents to be reimbursed on a pre-tax basis for camps. Visit the FSA Feds Web site for more information.
IRS Pre-Tax Dollars: Day care expenses may be considered “dependent care services” and paid with pre-tax dollars. Visit the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for more information.
“Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit”: an income tax credit of up to $3,000 for one dependent and up to $6,000 of dependent care expenses if you have two or more dependents. The federal tax credit amount is based on your adjusted gross income. This applies to qualifying day camp expenses as well. Visit the FSA Feds Web site for more information.
Recession-proof your child’s education
When schools drop electives, can summer camps pick up the pieces?
By Carol Lloyd
Looking at my daughter’s schedule makes me wonder whatever happened to those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer. Only a couple of years ago she was hanging at the local park with a cheap and dirty “kids in a sandpit” summer camp. Now my daughter is experiencing a different sort of fourth-quarter learning. We’re talking enrichment with a big, expensive E.
One week of art camp, three weeks of writing camp in the morning and math tutoring in the afternoon, then two weeks of Spanish-immersion mornings followed by martial arts training. I don’t consider myself one of those obsessive, “only the best for my angel” mothers. But our daughter goes to a science and arts magnet where there’s virtually no science and arts funding left. And these “extras” seem almost essential.
Does your child’s summer look like a patchwork quilt of educational best practices, or do other factors take precedence when choosing a camp program?
Playing summer catch-up
According to educational specialists, parents who send their children to a wide offering of summer camps to make up for a lackluster school year are hardly alone. As the recession deepens and public schools are forced to cut enrichment and specialized academic programs, many parents are using camp as a way of giving their children what many schools no longer give them: arts, athletics, science, foreign language, sometimes even core academics.
Parents have always relied on summer programs to enrich school-year learning, says educational consultant Steven Roy Goodman. But recent budget cuts at public and even private schools have forced students to supplement their education with specific types of programs. At the lower grades, this usually takes place at specialty camps. At the high school level, it may mean signing up for adult education. “A number of students interested in being competitive Caltech or MIT applicants have had to enroll in summer courses at community colleges or local universities in order to take advanced math courses that used to be offered as an independent study at their high schools,” Goodman explains.
John Aulabaugh’s plans for his eighth-grade twin boys this summer shows how specialty camps can contribute to an ambitious educational strategy. In hopes of getting his twins into the highly regarded Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria, Va., Aulabaugh has planned a June-through-August academic extravaganza. “We have them in Space Camp at Cape Canaveral and two weeks of Tech Camp in the school system here,” he says. “Following that will be a trip to the Jet Propulsion Lab in Southern California and a trip to Genentech.”
“This is a trend we’re seeing especially with the changes in school programs,” says Marla Coleman, former president of the American Camp Association (ACA) and founder of Coleman Country Day Camp on Long Island. “Parents want to provide their children with every educational edge.”
The boom that didn’t go bust: specialty camps
Indeed, while many industries are struggling just to stay afloat, the nation’s summer camps still seem to be flying high. According to the ACA, enrollment did not decline this year. Many camp directors say their expansion plans have not been affected by the recession.
Since summer camps don’t need curricula, grading systems, or accreditation, says Coleman, they can respond quickly to parental desires. She says science-based specialty camps in areas like archeology, technology, and astronomy are on the rise as are academic tutoring programs. Her own day camp offers individualized tutoring in core subjects for children who might otherwise have been shipped off to summer school.
Outsourcing algebra to Camp Do-Da-Day
Are specialty summer camps another way we’re driving our children to be neurotic overachievers? Or are they simply the only means of giving students enrolled in cash-strapped schools a well-rounded education? And what will happen to those kids whose parents can’t afford the luxury of all these academic add-ons (see the sidebar for budget options)?
Whether you see the trend as a positive twist or positively twisted, there’s no doubt that the rise in specialty camps reflects parents’ dogged determination to compensate for the nation’s educational woes. And given the budget shortfall many school districts face, summertime outsourcing may be here to stay.
Carol Lloyd is a columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle and mother to two raucous daughters ages 5 and 9. Her bestselling book Creating a Life Worth Living (Harper Collins, 1997) offers career advice for artists, inventors, and entrepreneurs.
Calling All Summertime Scientists!
When students leave the classroom the learning continues outside. Explore 12 fun projects and keep science top of mind year round.
Check out this collection of video about science. Subscribe.
He also has a tone of Bill Nye the Science guy videos up. So this is a great collection.