When camp parents think about the independence and accountability campers display over the summer, they may have a simple thought: there’s no way that’s my kid. “I know my child,”, they may think as their little one laces two mismatched shoes,” and “there’s no way that this is the same kid who dresses him/herself, makes the bed and cleans, follows the schedule, and even navigates the campus.”
And yet, despite this skepticism, these children thrive every summer in the independent setting that camp creates. So how do camps manage to provide a structure that allows campers of all ages to capably display the independence needed for a successful summer? They keep them informed. Camps have many ways of setting the campers up for success, and giving them the information they need to succeed. So – since today is April 11th after all – let’s celebrate the 4-1-1; how camps keep campers informed.
At many Maine Camp Experience camps, campers will have some kind of schedule on a daily basis. For some, this schedule may be composed entirely of activities they’ve chosen; for others, they will have a combination of choice periods and assigned periods, and for some this schedule is completely assigned. At some camps, it may be typed and printed, while at others it may be hand drawn and designed each day (and inevitably photocopied many, many times). No matter the case, this schedule will be the campers guide to get them through the day, and will help them be in the right place at the right time – it is oftentimes a truly crucial part of camp life.
Of course, at some camps this schedule isn’t written down at all, and instead is simply revealed at another crucial camp information source: group or all-camp meetings. Oftentimes at camp, an age group of campers (or the entire camp population) will have regular morning, afternoon, and/or evening meetings. During these meetings, group heads may discuss upcoming events (such as intercamp games or evening activities), relay professional or intracamp/intercamp sports scores, or announce the upcoming meals for the day. Meetings are great times to remind campers of rules they may be struggling to follow, or find the owner of the un-labeled tennis racquet that was left on the dining hall porch. This is a great time to come together as a group, and helps create a sense of unity and community that truly contributes to the spirit of camp. At some camps, there will also be a bulletin board, so campers don’t have to worry about remembering every single announcement that was made during the course of the meeting.
Parents may wonder how their often untidy child knows how to clean up during the summer. Another vital source of information for daily camp, which helps keep bunks clean and chaos to a minimum in the mornings, is the all-important job wheel. The job wheel (or sometimes job chart), is a rotating assignment of various morning chores – one day a camper may sweep the bathroom, the next day they may take out the trash. This ensures that there is no unfairness – every camper does almost every job during a summer – and also helps campers become accountable, as generally an inspection will also detail which jobs were not completed.
However, while all of these aspects of camp certainly keep campers informed and on schedule, they are all just supplements to the one major resource that every camper relies on during the summer: their counselors. Counselors help kids get ready in the morning, make sure they put sunscreen on during rest hour, and are there to answer any questions a camper may have. From “what’s for dinner?” to “can we play Gaga?” to “where is New Zealand?” – counselors will get asked every question imaginable over the course of the summer, and it is their job to be patient, enthusiastic, and helpful as they guide the campers through an incredible summer experience.
One of the most valuable aspects of camp is that it allows campers to develop their independence and sense of self. However, children do not automatically transform when they get to camp. Maine Camp Experience camps do an incredible job of providing kids with the structure and information to feel confident, allowing them to make the most of their incredible independent experiences.
Talk to Laurie, our Maine Campcierge™, about choosing the right camp for your child and what to do in Maine.