By B.J. Murray, Senior Operations Director
In looking at this upcoming summer, we wanted to make the best use of our schedule so campers can get the most out of camp and so we can make a positive impact in camper lives. We also want to maximize the skills of our staff and allow them to share their interests and enthusiasm with campers in their care. Therefore, we decided to make a few changes to the summer schedule. Below is a quick list of some of the changes, as well as a quick explanation of each.
- Check-in is more welcoming. Before a camper gets to their cabin, they will interact with at least seven staff, including year-round, full-time staff. This gives both campers and parents the chance to meet staff and feel comfortable with them. It also sets the tone for the engaged, enthusiastic staff interactions we want each camper to experience every day they’re here at camp. Plus, more staff helping get campers checked-in, means a shorter, smoother check-in process.
- Sundays are more active. Instead of orientation (i.e. sitting), we’ll kick off the week with all-camp games on Sunday. Don’t worry, campers will still learn all the rules and traditions—just in a more interactive way. We’ve also built in more friendship-building time through cabin activities and getting-to-know-you games. Another change…we’ve moved swim tests to Monday morning–because who wants to get into a swimsuit and take a test first thing Sunday?! Ultimately, we want kids to have fun and get to know one another so that they expend any nervous energy and feel more comfortable on the first day at camp.
Skillbuilders are getting a makeover. We really looked over our Skillbuilders (morning programs, like archery or canoeing, that campers focus on for the week), and have added to or reworked the curriculum. By doing so, campers will have more fun, feel a greater level of achievement and will feel like they can learn something new in that skill area year after year.
Afternoons are more open. Each week, every cabin is scheduled for daily swim time, a horse ride and a chance to climb the tower. Beyond those activities, each cabin schedules their afternoons themselves. This allows for creativity and flexibility of the cabin staff and their campers to build the experiences they want into each day. So, if you have a group of young campers who love Arts & Crafts, their counselor can sign them up to go more than just once. Or, if you have an especially adventurous group, they can go climbing more than once. Or, if you have a cabin of teens, they and their counselors can go exploring the creeks and hills, doing what teens love best (talking and having adventures).
Another new feature is a “free-play” session before dinner. During this time, campers can play Gaga, Frisbee, soccer, basketball or a selection of other quad-based activities together. It’s a chance for them to visit with their new friends and decide what they want to do for themselves. Staff will be around to supervise all the activities and keep everyone safe—but campers will be free to move from one activity to the next as they choose.
We’ll engage with parents more during the week. We understand it can be hard to leave your child in the trust of someone else and not see them for a week. You usually end up missing them quite a bit! Therefore, we want to fill that hole through more communication. So, a small selection of daily photos will be posted for you to see, e-mails will let you know what’s happening at camp (if there was a storm or we have an especially great story to share), and we’ll give you access to camp through a strong presence on social media (Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter). We can’t guarantee a picture of your child will be posted every day (afterall, we want them playing, not worrying about pictures) but, we can guarantee you’ll feel like you know what’s going on at camp between drop-off Sunday and pick-up Saturday.
We are excited about these changes for Summer 2016 and although it may seem like a lot of changes, they are really just tweaks to our already strong line-up of summer programs. We continue to hire only the very best staff and train them to be the best versions of themselves. We continue to offer strong programs and make every activity fun and engaging for our campers. We continue to be known as a place to build strong friendships, grow in confidence and try new things. Camp Wood YMCA will always be these things. We just want to be sure our 100th summer is the best one yet!