August 4, 2015
Having been camp directors for multiple years, Susie Ma’am and I have learned to look for certain patterns and rhythms within each session. Within a term, we expect to have a few days were everyone is adjusting to this bizarre life that is camp:
These first few days of an overnight summer camp require extra energy from the camp staff. We need to soothe some campers through homesickness while creating functional cabin dynamics. Counselors (who are often with their new co-counselor for the first time) will iron out their counseling styles. We will help new campers understand the schedule, our culture and the traditions at camp.
In orientation, we talk a great deal about “the first 48”. During the first 48 hours of camp session, a great counselor has a chance to create something special. He or she can let his or her campers know that they are loved and that their safety is critical. We stress to the counselors that starting strong helps campers build confidence in a new place or a new group and sets the cabins up for success.
After the first few days, the cabins get into a comfortable pattern. Of course, there will be moments when campers disagree but for the most part, the middle days of camp are more smooth. This is where we see a difference between two week camp and three week camp. While the best summer camp term length can vary for individual children and families, in a three week camp there is certainly more time to experience the relaxed routine that exists in the middle section of a term.
The final days of any session are also more involved. The “Last 48” are important to wrap up the term on a grand note. We want all campers to have the chance to do their favorite activities and (more importantly) say goodbye to the new best friends and counselors they have met.
Right now, we have some campers in the “First 48”, while others will be entering their “Last 48” later this week. [Note: if your child is here for Batter Up, both apply to you. Let’s call it the “Middle 48” for you. In a one week versus two week summer camp (or more!) the middle section is simply shorter.]
The Double 4 campers arrived on Sunday and we cannot wait to have a great two weeks with them. Meanwhile, we still have a large contingent of three and four week campers that have been with us over 2 weeks.
Several years ago, I would have thought that having both groups at camp on different schedules would be a challenge, but we have been delighted to see how seamlessly the camp absorbs our new friends and fellow campers. The campers who have been here help teach the traditions and “reach out” to the first time campers. The new campers provide excitement and joy to everything that is “new” to them.
In short, it is great to be a camper at Camp Champions, regardless of whether you just arrived or are leaving on Saturday!
Want more like this? See: http://blog.campchampions.com/overnight-summer-camp-success-first-48-hours