July 14, 2019
On behalf of the staff and counselors at Camp Champions, let me welcome everyone that is joining us for our 53rd summer of camping fun!
The summer has started off on a wonderful note. We had perhaps the best counselor orientation for two weeks followed by two of the best sessions we have ever enjoyed. The counselors now know all the tricks of the trade and are incredibly excited to have our new campers arrive.
We finished our inter-session work yesterday extra early so make sure that the counselors also got extra rest. They are so excited to have the new group of campers joining us.
I cannot tell you how impressed I am with the commitment and compassion of the team we have here this summer. For there second summer in a row, we have counselors from every continent except Antarctica, but more importantly is that they are all committed to being here for your children.
Over the past 8 weeks, Susie Ma’am and I have watched counselors 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 often the most challenging for campers and parents, so we have created a team of counselors and directors to help 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, they had a tour of camp and took their cabin and individual photos. The campers also collaborated and wrote their cabin rules (we love that this is a camper-directed process). We believe that campers behave best when they know that their ideas are valued and they have agency in their time at camp.
After dinner, we did something a little different. The oldest girls (cabins 1+-5) and boys (cabins 1-6) went on their overnight (the two groups will be in different areas). This spring, we met some camp directors who extolled the virtues of having the oldest campers bond around a campfire on the very first day. So those campers are cooking out and sharing stories by a fire.
The rest of the camp played a series of outside games with their cabins and counselors.
We then had our first torchlight ceremony (I will explain this more in a later blog). We introduced our new campers and welcomed them. We took time to assure them 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 7 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.
As we always do, we have made improvements to camp since last year. We added an additional team of counselors to help us keep our staff fresh. Even the best counselors can get tired. At most camps, they just “power through” their tiredness. This year, we have a team that can come in for an hour or 3 to make sure that counselors (and our leadership team) are always fresh. This new experiment has proven to work incredibly well. We have never been fresher!
We also made physical improvements. The flood last fall took a lot of our equipment, so we have 3 brand new Ski Nautique boats, new wave runners, additional sailboats and kayaks. We expanded the girls’ side of the Fillin’ Station so that they will have more room (much appreciated from the gals). We have upgraded horseback riding and added axe throwing (not at the same time).
But we never forget 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 26 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 time!
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.