By Guest Blogger Jen de Ridder, Senior Program Director
From a kid’s point of view, summer camp is all about fun. As a director at YMCA Camp Hanes I know we can accomplish even more.
One area growing in recognition is the learning opportunities that take place at camp. Summer Camp is a great place to keep your child engaged throughout the summer. We are intentional to create programs and a culture to prevent summer learning loss.
Our programs that include reading and STEM objectives are helping campers stay sharp all year long. We encourage reading and provide opportunities daily. We have libraries at camp to provide reading materials for all campers. During rest times, evenings and devotions campers and staff have time to read and discuss books. Discussing the latest book and movie craze can be way more fun with counselors than it is with Mom and Dad. So we encourage our staff and train them to create this environment, they actually enjoy it a ton too!
We use our year round Outdoor Education program curriculum to enhance learning and provide STEM programs. One of my favorite activities at camp is creek study. Campers go down to our creek to catch, observe and release wildlife. Nothing is better than a camper connecting to nature on a warm summer day ankle deep in a creek catching crayfish, tadpoles and salamanders! The excitement on their face when they are successful is a testament to the value of these programs.
Campers participate as a cabin in variety activities during their week. These vary from crafts, shooting sports, climbing, water activities and hiking. Many of these activities focus on specific skill development. Staff provide focus instruction and along with the fun. One clear example is canoeing. Success at canoeing requires communication between those in the boat, problem solving some mechanical engineering. In a short amount of time campers go from the docks and taking in the instructions to mastering a skill. In between there is some giggling, some frustration and exploring. Once the skill is mastered it boosts the self confidence in the camper. Learning when they did not expect it!
Even daily cabin life provides these moments. Living in a cabin with 12-16 others is no easy task: rules need to be established, expectations set and there must be follow through. This takes discussions and everyone doing their part. Helping with cleaning after meals becomes a team effort. Our staff lead campers through team-building activities and evening devotions to help create a bonded team. There is always learning going on.
If only your co-workers did it as well as our campers, huh?
So while you and your camper are thinking about the fun they will have know at camp, I am planning for so much more.
Visit www.camphanes.org or call 336-983-3131 for more information on how we can help your child have the best summer ever!