Camp Does a World Of Good!

Dear Parents & Friends,

Thanks for such a great opening day today and hope everyone is safe and sound back home or to their next destination. It was an active and full day here and we jumped right into program just after lunch today. We sang in the Lodge with Debbie at the piano and then learned about all the activities a camper can take while here. In morning Discoveries campers have the choice of 4 activities out of the many offered. There are two 1 hour activities each morning. Following are the morning Discoveries: Farm/Mill, Archery, Martial Arts, Soccer, Horses, Climbing, Musical Extravaganza, Dance Show, Beautiful Beads, Candle Making, Weaving, Canoeing, Water Polo, Diving, Creek Hiking, Junior Life Guarding, Web of Life, Mountain Biking, Pottery, Outdoor Living Skills, Outdoor Cooking Skills, and Whitewater Kayaking. These morning activities are provided for skill progression and last for 3 days. The afternoon activities are 2 one hour activities or 1 two hour activity. They are different each day and children sign up each day for different ones depending on what is offered.

Having all these choices is good for decision making skills and the campers are assisted in sign-ups so they are not taking all of one kind of activity. It’s almost like choosing your courses for college. Whoa, let’s slow down a bit here. But seriously, it is good for them to try different things and step out of their comfort zones in those ways. Mary Gwynn, who founded camp, believed that campers should do something difficult every day. I do feel we provide those opportunities throughout our program. In campfire tonight our head counselors asked the question, how many of you did something today that you’d never done. Many hands went up and we strive to make this happen each and every day.

Camp is a place where you can try and try again and it’s ok to fail and try again. You’ll soon find that someone will have a skill that you don’t and you’ll have a skill that they don’t and then you’ve got cooperative learning. I find it fun and exciting when I see children teaching other children. I’m not sure, but feel that campers might listen better to their peers on occasion. We as teachers and counselors are always working to try and improve what children retain when we’re actively teaching. We sometimes talk too much and I have found this true of myself which teaching paddling on the river or lake. Then there’s the fact that we learn in different ways and we hear or listen differently.

I recently read an article on listening in the Wall Street Journal. Even before the age of digital distractions, people could remember only about 10% of what was said in a face-to-face conversation after a brief distraction, according to a 1987 study that remains a key gauge of conversational recall. Researchers believe listening skills have since fallen amid more multitasking and interruptions. Most people can think more than twice as fast as the average person talks, allowing the mind to wander. Camp certainly has a lot of distractions but we also have supervision which helps in monitoring situations where our campers really need to listen (ex. belay signals on the climbing wall, figuring out gearing on a Mountain Bike, learning to throw a pot on the wheel, or operating a sophisticated loom in crafts). We do repeat ourselves a good bit, but it’s worth it and again we’re always seeking new ways to attract attention when attention is needed.

The good news is camp is full of wonder and exciting and fun activities and new experiences that come each day. The wonder and excitement peaks a camper’s interest and helps them to focus on what’s important and in which direction they will go. As we’ve said before, outdoor play increases attention span. Time spent in play outdoors is a natural attention builder. Often children who have difficulty with pen and paper tasks or sitting still for long periods of times are significantly more successful after time spent outside.Outdoor play also promotes problem solving. As children navigate a world in which they make the rules, they must learn to understand what works and what doesn’t, what lines of thinking bring success and failure, how to know when to keep trying and when to stop.Camp is a great place to experience so much without dependence on parents. It’s a place where resilience and grit are learned and most of all it’s fun and there are many other cool adults looking out for you. We should all be so lucky. Camp does a world of good! Stay tuned!