July 30, 2017
On behalf of the staff and counselors at Camp Champions, let me welcome everyone that is joining us for our 51st summer of camping fun!
We have had a great summer, with 8 weeks of camp behind us. We work for almost 10 months each year in order to enjoy the gifts of camp: the smiles, the hugs, the laughter and the opportunities for growth!
We know that this is YOUR session at camp and we cannot wait to share our excitement and love with your campers.
Over the past 10 weeks (2 of orientation and 8 of camp), Susie Ma’am and I have watched counselors from 5 continents come together as a team. We have stressed the importance of safety (both physical and emotional) as well as fun. We also helped our counselors understand that they will be partners in the parenting process with you. Beyond focusing on safety and fun, they need to understand the specific needs of each camper and help them grow in these areas.
For our new camper-families, we say a hearty “welcome to Camp Champions”! We know that the first summer of camp is the most challenging for campers and parents, so we have created a team of counselors and directors to help all of you make this important transition. Their mission is to make sure that you and your camper feel valued, loved and cared for.
After you dropped off your children, we had swim tests, tours and handed out uniforms. The campers collaborated and wrote the self directed rules for their cabin. We believe that campers behave best when they know that their ideas are valued and they have agency in their time at camp..
We just finished our first torchlight ceremony (I will explain this more in a later blog). We sang some sings, saw a skit and enjoyed a short fireworks display. We took time to assure our new campers that the odd traditions and songs will soon become familiar and loved. We also stressed that we are all delighted to have them join our camp community. We love watching our returning campers reach out to their new friends and cabinmates. As my mom used to say, all campers have one thing in common on Opening Day – they all want to make new friends.
Now, your children are in their cabins. They are enjoying their first “nightly ritual” – a time for reflection, conversation and sharing. We started this tradition 5 years ago. Since creating it, we have found that cabins are more cohesive and happier with each other. They cultivate respect and gratitude.
The evening is cool with a slight breeze. The stars are winking at us. Simply stated, it is lovely.
Tonight, your children will sleep with their new friends and counselors. Tomorrow, we will wake at 7:30 and embrace our first full day of activities. It will be a full one, so we need to make sure that we all get a full night’s sleep.
Additional Staff to Serve New Families
We have made a conscious decision to add counselors focused on first-time campers to help assure a smooth transition to camp life. While we already had one of the highest counselor-to-camper ration in the industry, we realized that new families have special needs. I will share more about this in a later blog.
For you who are returners, we have tons of exciting improvements for you. OK, I guess everyone will be enjoying these improvements, but if you are a new family, everything is new. Here is a list of the improvements since last summer.
We built what we believe is the best summer camp Fine Arts facility in the entire southwest: the Hearth. In addition to connoting a place of respite and retreat, the name includes the words, “Art”, “Heart”, and “Earth”. Using a talented architect, we converted 5 cabins into an area of creativity and calmness. It has a Lego room (called Drake’s Den), woodworking, jewelry making, painting/drawing, rocketry, crafts, drama and ceramics. We will continue to do music and dance as well from our previous locations. We have also updated our classes and hired people skilled in these different areas.
It also includes the JJ Baskin Library (named for my wonderful brother who passed 2 years ago). It is a cool, breezy place to relax and reflect.
In short, we are very excited about the Hearth.
New Cabins and Midi Deck
In order to build the Hearth, we needed to build new cabins for our “Letterman” campers (boys having just finished 5th and 6th grade) to replace the ones we made into studios. These 4 cabins are elevated with hang-out decks above and play areas below. These areas will encourage campers all ages to play together, especially during dance night and beach parties when we open it to everyone.
On the girls side, we built an additional cabin on the girls’ cove for the same aged girls, the Midis. We then connected all the cabins on the cove with a waterside walkway that culminates at the Midi Deck. Perhaps the most serene place in camp, this area of hammocks, hanging lounge and plants is a great place to chat with friends and enjoy cabin time.
The Mini Fortress
We realized that we did not need two sand-volleyball courts, so Moak Sir got creative and erected the Mini Fortress. This play area includes a “spider-web” that leads to a climbing plane, a “birds nest” swing, a slide and enough sand to make a village of castles. We expect to see campers there all the time.
There are lots of smaller improvements (an awesome inflatable at the Swim Bay, 4 food serving lines in the Fillin’ Station rather than 2, expanded options at the salad bar, lots of lovely landscaping) that will make camp even better.
But always remember that camp is not about the facilities or the stuff, but it is about the role models. We like to say that we can run a very good camp on an acre of asphalt if we have the right counselor-heroes. Happily, we are not on an acre of asphalt, but instead have wonderful facilities and activities. But we never forget that ultimately camp is about the connections that campers make with their counselors and with their fellow campers.
Susie Ma’am and I have had the joyous pleasure to do this for 24 years. We look forward to a full night’s rest as well. After all, we need to keep up with a camp full of energetic campers!
I hope you enjoy this website. Enjoy the photos and take time to read the articles. We will provide you a nice one-way mirror into the life of camp. Some of these articles are new, but many are tried-and-true favorites. If you are a returning parent, please do not think we are getting lazy. Instead, we want to give our new families a chance to see what we value and what we are striving to accomplish at camp.
Until we see you at closing day – have a wonderful few weeks!
P.S. With kids at camp, this is a great time to do things you often do not have time for, like a date night or a visit with friends. We encourage you to take advantage of the opportunity.