“I had such a great summer at camp! I love my bunk! Best time ever! Please, please, please drive me to the reunion ? I just have to go- EVERYONE will be there.”
Which turns into, ” I have to go back- EVERYONE is going back. I will do anything. I know you have to pay for my CIT year.”
Followed by, ”This is the last year I can go back before I need to start work!”
Summer searches start out innocently by trying to find that perfect summer program for your child. What you may not realize or project is that the summer environment has the potential to have life long influences.
The culture of any summer environment, regardless of its location (camp, on a mountain top or college campus), is dictated by the values and style of the director. It trickles from the top down: from director to staff to support staff to the children. The experience just doesn’t happen. Any program takes months and years to get it right. To massage it and fine tweak it, takes, time, energy, passion and commitment.
I have lived by the values of my camp director. I am privileged to have had wonderful parents with great ethics – he was just a bonus with tremendous impact! He taught us how to communicate with children differently – not through commands, but through reason and discussion. “That towel is making it difficult to walk through the bunk – someone may trip and get hurt.” As opposed to” Pick up the @#*^ towel! ” He taught us how to be open to learning and self-growth. He taught us that there are second chances when you own up to mistakes and are humble. He taught us that kindness and positive energy go a lot farther than negativity and being inconsiderate. . Our motto- Values =choices=consequences. I could go on, but my point is that the culture and expectations he created for staff, was in turn, created for the children . YOUR children, who take those values home, to school. to college, to work and to their families.
Take the time to speak with the camp director of the program you are considering. Know what they represent. Make your own connection and don’t rely on the opinion or hearsay of others.
This March I will travel to celebrate my director’s 70th birthday. I value his wisdom and friendship, my choice, is to attend his celebration, and the consequence will be a great time with my camp family.
Ann Kramer Fuchs – A camper at heart, Ann has been a consultant with Tips on Trips and Camps in Westchester County, NY for the past eleven years. She has been involved in the camping industry for 41 years as a Camp Director, Athletic Director, Wilderness Trip Leader and counselor.