What to Look For in a Summer Camp
What is the number one thing you should be searching for when it comes to summer camps?

The answer is personality! Now you’re probably wondering what it means for a camp to have personality, or how the camp itself could have a personality. It’s not something you will find explicitly on Google, if you were to try to search for it, that's for sure. Certainly, the people who work in the full time office and those people who comprise the summer staff have varying personalities and they each bring something to the camp in their own way. But, it is the collective personality that each person has a hand in creating that makes each camp different, special, and unique in their own ways.

• What really matters?

You can ask people who have gone to camp already what some of their most memorable experiences were, and more often than not, those experiences are centered around the people they were doing things with rather than that thing itself. That’s not to say that the homerun that won the inter-camp game against a rival camp isn’t an historic event to point to in the life of a camper, but that camp counselor who coached the camper for many activity periods to be able to hit the homerun, the other players on the team who hoisted that camper onto their shoulders, and the smiling faces at a victory ice cream party are those mental images that we can remember for many years to come. Thought of in another way, consider the activities at camp and how people can affect how those activities are received:

• Activities are the same everywhere. Or are they...?

When it comes to camps, camp activities and competitions, many camps have similar activities. Tag is tag, kickball is kickball, etc. So what makes these activities truly special in the eyes of campers and their parents? It’s those people who share a spot in those memories. “I remember that time when Timmy, my favorite counselor, showed me how to dribble between my legs in basketball. He worked through three whole periods with me just so that I could keep practicing and I could get it down perfect. Now, I’m using that same technique on the JV team for my high school.” When we are able to connect to others in a way that isn’t just working together or tolerating each other, but a connection built on respect , sincerity, and kindness, the experiences that we encounter at camp become those hallmark events that we will continuously point to later in life.

• Okay, so what can I do about it?

This is sounding all well and good, isn’t it? Well, it should! That’s what summer camping is all about, right? These are the kinds of experiences that we want to achieve at summer camp. Now, how exactly do we do that? The single best way to get a feel for that camp personality we are discussing is simply to meet with camp staff. You’re thinking, “That’s it?” It is. The reason I am suggesting a meeting with camp staff, which can be done via a tour of camp, home visit, etc., is because there are communications that cannot be understood completely without face to face interaction. A phone call is a great, but what does the camp look like? An email is nice, but what about the person behind the email? A meeting with staff alleviates all those types of questions and can leave campers and parents with the feeling of “This is the place.”

• Camp searching = College searching?

The closest comparison I can equate this kind of feeling to is college searching and how prospective parents and their children will visit campuses to get that “feeling” of whether or not the school is right for them. To state again this way, colleges make a lot of information about their school available so students can make an informed choice on where they may like to go or where they can begin searching. Oftentimes, however, it is that visit to the campus itself with a tour from a friendly student tour guide, seeing the dorm where they would be staying, or eating in the dining hall with other students that seals the decision. “I had a great feeling about the school; it just seemed right to me.”

So, when searching for summer camps and what camp may be “right,” a visit to the camp may be in order, and when you see your child’s face brighten up as you are pulling up the driveway, you’ll know “This is the place.”

by Matt Buynak Jr. (4/1/14)

SUMMER: 222 Greeley Lake Rd, Greeley, PA 18425 p. 570.685.7196
WINTER: P.O. Box 219, Moscow, PA 18444 p. 570.842.3739

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