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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in camp

Posted by on in Movement and Play

This is my first summer without home-based childcare. Although I work from home, keeping my seven-year-old, only child daughter home with me is not a good option because she is (as previously described on my blog) not very good at entertaining herself. I have work that I need to do, and I certainly don't want her on her device all day long.

Most of the time, she goes to a small nearby childcare center that is play-based. During the summer they have weekly themes, and they offer supplies for different craft projects according to those themes. But they are very low-key, and it's typical for me to go by to pick my daughter up and find the kids doing something like making a cooperative book or practicing a show. [And sometimes they are watching a movie - you can't have everything.] But in general, it's a pretty relaxed environment, and ranges from 2 to maybe 6-7 kids there at one time. She's there during the school year after school, too, but there are more kids then.

Wanting to mix things up a bit, I had also signed her up for two weeks at a bigger, more structured day camp, held at a local elementary school. There were lots of STEAM activities - science and art projects (which are now taking up considerable space around our house). There was plenty of time outside running around, themes for the different days, music, and tremendous enthusiasm on the part of the young counselors. We know a bunch of other families who also attended this camp the first week, and most of the kids loved it.

My daughter? Not so much. After the first day, I basically had to force her to go every day. She kept whining and asking why she couldn't just go to the regular place. (Because I had pre-paid, and was not about to pay for 2 different things at the same time.) The best she could tell me about WHY she didn't like it was that it was too much like school. Reading between the lines a bit, it was like school but without the free play at lunch and recess, without any reading, and without seeing as many of her friends (especially the second week - the second week was very painful). She didn't like having to go from activity to activity on someone else's schedule. She didn't like having to run around outside in the heat. She didn't like being with 150 kids instead of the usual handful.

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Posted by on in Movement and Play

We picked our little boy up from camp the other day.  He's been to sleep-away camp twice this summer, early in the summer for 4 nights, most recently for three nights.  He's still little so these have been taste-of-camp programs, designed to give kids an idea of what camp life is like, to whet their appetites for future summers.  He's been kayaking, swimming, boogie boarding, and canoeing.  He's gone on hikes and learned how to fire an arrow out of a bow.  He's made crafts, learned new songs, and had some intense dance parties.  He's also had great quiet times in his bunk with his counselors and his new friends.  

What struck me most after he barelled down the hill and into my arms was how brilliantly camps and their counselors work to build relationships with kids, quickly and deeply, so that after only 3 nights my son was firmly attached to the young men who had been caring for him.  What could teachers learn from them as we barrel towards the inevitability of a new school year?

1.  Relationships First, Relationships Always

Camps put relationships first.  Building relationships with and among campers is the most important part of camp life.  Camp is nothing without relationships and they are the focus of all the programming that goes on at any camp.  My son often has trouble falling asleep at night and one counselor stayed up with him telling "stories from his life" to help him settle down.  The sketch book he had brought to camp was canibalized for use in making droves of paper airplanes to entertain the boys on a rainy day.  One counsellor remarked on how creative and imaginative my son is and how kind he was to the other kids.  I wondered: do I know that much about my students after just three days?  These counselors are young adults; I'm a grown up (apparently) and I think they're doing a better job of building these relationships than I am.  

2.  Valuing Risk

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