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Monthly Archives: February 2012

Building “Strong Kids” through Servant Leadership

March is the kick-off of Camp Jorn YMCA’s annual Strong Kids Campaign.  This campaign raises funds from the many friends of Camp Jorn in order to ensure that any child, regardless of ability to pay, will have the opportunity to engage in a Camp Jorn experience.

You may know about Strong Kids, because you’ve given to the campaign in the past, or even because you’ve received scholarship dollars through this fundraiser.  What you may not know is that this is one of the most important things we do here at Camp Jorn.  Of course, our program is important, as is hiring an excellent staff, following licensing and ACA standards, ensuring the safety of all who come to Camp Jorn, and creating opportunities for kids and families to grow, learn, and recognize and develop value in themselves and in the world around them.  But if we didn’t have Strong Kids, Camp Jorn would be missing an essential component to fulfilling its mission.

More than 20% of CJ campers receive some form of assistance through the Strong Kids Campaign.  It’s vital that we provide these scholarships, because camp is for ALL kids.  Whether a family has fallen on hard times, or the camp experience is just too much of a luxury that summer, or funds are being saved for something else, we know that everyone needs a hand up at some time to make sure their kids have camp in their lives!

The Strong Kids Campaign is one of the most important ways that we who are a part of Camp Jorn can be “servant leaders.”  According to Robert K. Greenleaf, founder of the Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership in Carmel, Indiana, The servant-leader is servant first… It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. That person is sharply different from one who is a leader first, perhaps because of the need to assuage an unusual power drive or to acquire material possessions…The leader-first and the servant-first are two extreme types. Between them there are shadings and blends that are part of the infinite variety of human nature.

Greenleaf goes on to say, “The difference manifests itself in the care taken by the servant-first to make sure that other people’s highest priority needs are being served. The best test, and difficult to administer, is: Do those served grow as persons? Do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants? And, what is the effect on the least privileged in society? Will they benefit or at least not be further deprived?

This is the essence of what we do at camp.  We have to ask ourselves, “Do those served grow as persons?  Do they become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants?”

They’re great questions to ask ourselves every day of our lives.  It’s a huge, but worthy, challenge to become, and help others to become, servant leaders in every way.

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Campers, what do you do in the winter?

Campers!  You’re what Camp Jorn is all about!!  We love to hear from YOU, our CJ campers, and your friends about what you’re up to when you’re not at camp!  Since it’s definitely winter in the north woods of Wisconsin, and summer seems so far away, we thought we might as well talk about what winter is like for all of us.

At CJ, the temperatures get down to 20, 15, 10, or even 0 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter!

Snow usually blankets everything you see at camp- the field, the cabins, the KYBO, the dining hall, and even the lake!

Rest Lake freezes over so that you can WALK to Fox Island, or snowshoe or cross-country ski all the way over to Manitowish Waters!!

The birds you hear all summer are nowhere to be seen (or heard), and different sounds take their place:  the sound of snow falling softly, or the wind blowing through the bare tree branches, or ice crunching under our boots.

Winter at Camp Jorn means quiet, productive days in the main office for Emir, Dennis, and Kim; busy child care days for Dawn and Mary and crew; steady days of maintenance and facility work for Paul, Mark and John; hospitality days of hosting groups for Amy.  But mostly, it means missing the wonderful sights and sounds of CJ summer campers!!!

Now send us your photos of “Winter, by Camper (your name)” to caroline@campjornymca.org and anything you want to write about what winter is like for you, wherever you live or travel to!  We can’t wait to see your photos!

In our next blog post, we’ll show everyone your photos!!  THEN we’ll start thinking WARM and talk again about EVERYTHING THAT HAS TO DO WITH SUMMER!!!

Below are a few shots of Camp Jorn in the winter time.  The photos were taken from our new Winter Camp Snow Days program, which you may have heard about.  We had 20 campers and 7 staff in this inaugural winter camp group which lasted from Dec. 29th, 2011 thru Jan. 2nd, 2012.  It was such a blast with a mix of indoor and outdoor activities including snow shoeing, toboggan building, winter crafts, skiing, and even a New Year’s Eve Sock Hop!  While we were there, it even snowed 8 inches!  Few of us get a chance to see CJ in the winter, let alone play at camp when it becomes a winter wonderland.

CJ Staff: Finding the Best

One of the greatest parts of my job as Resident Camp Director is interviewing and hiring staff for the summer.  This school year we rolled out the application in late December, a little earlier than usual, and within a few weeks I had more than 50 applications in my inbox!  It’s incredibly encouraging to see so many young people who have “come up through the ranks” in their CJ lives, and are excited to pass on the traditions and help create memories for the campers who walk the paths of Camp Jorn today.  It’s also fun to see applications from “new” people, people who are passionate about the camping experience and want to make a difference in the lives of kids.

As a parent myself, one of my greatest desires is for my own kids to find the kind of positive role models they so desperately need in today’s day and age.  The old adage that “it takes a village to raise a child” is still relevant, but so often missing in the lives of kids these days.  Camp is one of those places that provide these role models, in a safety-conscious, growth-oriented, fun environment.  Finding the best staff to work with Camp Jorn campers is not only one of the greatest parts of my job, but one of the most important!

Potential CJ staff go through a rigorous hiring process.  We receive their application and 3 reference forms, which must be written and are also spot-checked for accuracy and authenticity, and then conduct a phone or in-person interview.

I ask a lot of questions- the usual “what strengths do you bring to this position?” and “which program areas do you feel most comfortable working in?”   But more importantly, I want to know what the applicants understand about kids, and how they will conduct themselves at camp:  How do you relate to kids?  What are some of the fears and concerns of campers coming to camp?  Tell me about a terrific leader or teacher you’ve had- what qualities made him/her that way?  What are some things a kid could do that would really impress you?  Make you crazy?  How do you let them know?  How do you think kids learn the difference between right and wrong?  Is it okay for kids to disagree with adults?  What’s been one of your most recent disappointments?  What was the last thing that made you feel really good about yourself?  When was the last time you changed your mind about something?  What kind of training helps you do your best job?  Are you comfortable trying new things?  The list goes on…

We work hard to put the “right people on the bus,” to fit the pieces of the puzzle together to create an incredible summer staff team.  Staff are given materials throughout the spring that help them ready their minds and spirits for the job ahead.  They spend at least a week of training at camp before the first campers arrive, learning everything from emergency procedures, to camper development, to canoe paddle strokes, to the best camp songs to sing!  They talk about what kind of leaders they want to be, and how to be them.  They role play the kinds of issues they might have in their cabin group.  They create lesson plans for program area classes and wild ideas for campfires!  Then, the first Sunday of camp, the buses arrive…  It’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for!  But we have a few more months before that happens!   =)

Campers, tell us about the staff members you particularly love, and why they’re so great!  Tell us what you see in them that make you want to come back to camp every summer!

Staff, tell us what qualities you think make up the best counselor at Camp Jorn?

Parents, tell us about the perfect staff member for your child!  What do you look for?  What’s important to you?  We at camp want to listen and continue to improve in every way.

“Can You Catch That Spirit”

January is the month that Camp Jorn has traditionally launched registration for the following summer’s resident camp programs, sending out new brochures and emails announcing the kick-off of online sign-up for camper families.  We are so excited about the summer of 2012, and hope you have “caught the bug” too and are gearing up to register!

As you think about what your family will plan for your child’s summer, whether it’s a camp program or something else, we know there are many things you take into consideration.  Things like:

  • What activities are available for my child?
  • Which ones would my child be interested in?
  • What will my child learn through this experience?
  • Can we afford it?
  • Is it close to home?
  • Who’s going to be in charge?
  • Is it safe?  Fun? Challenging?

Campers have their own set of concerns:

  • What do I want to do?
  • Can my friend come, too?
  • Will I make new friends?
  • Will I fit in?
  • What if I can’t do something?
  • Will I be scared? Bored?  Will someone help me?
  • Is it fun???!

Older campers might have an even different set of questions:

  • Will all my friends be there?  What if I don’t know anyone?
  • Can I learn something that will help me succeed in high school/get into college?
  • Will we be working hard?  Will there be time for fun??

We at Camp know that there are lots of summer choices for kids.  Of course, we think Camp Jorn is one of the best choices.  We’ve been around a long time, helping kids recognize and develop value in themselves and the world around them.  We have really fun staff who focus on safety and learning in an exciting environment.  We do amazing things at Camp, like learn to water ski or ride horses, canoe, shoot a bow and arrow, play the guitar, sing weird songs, run around with a sock hanging out of our pocket and paint on our faces, dance, swim, hike; we even do things like make new friends, try new things, become more independent, take care of each other, and appreciate nature.  Camp is a pretty awesome place to be!

What will you choose to do this summer?  What’s important to you, as a parent or child, in deciding what’s best?  We’d love to hear what families today think about as they start planning their summer months!  Post a comment here and let’s talk!