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WOW

Ahhhh!WOW.  That’s my word for the summer of 2012 at Camp Jorn YMCA.  WOW!!

It was our biggest summer yet in terms of number of campers, but that’s just one part of the story.

The rest of the story can be seen in the many photos below from our sessions at CJ; the rest of the story can be seen in the eyes of the campers, and heard in the words of the campers; the rest of the story is written in the tall pine trees, in the sparkle of sun on Rest Lake, in the sound of laughter and the hush of reverence.

It’s a story of friendship, fun, challenge, and growth.  The story is in all of us who are part of Camp Jorn.

Confidence, Curiosity, and Character

Hi CJ Family!

As the summer draws to a close, I want to bring your attention to a video by Peg Smith, CEO of the American Camp Association.  Peg talks with families about the “3 Cs- ” Confidence, Curiosity, and Character-  the skills kids learn at camp that they take with them into the school year.

Please enjoy this short look at how we can keep the learnings of camp alive year-round!

http://www.acacamps.org/news/take-camp-skills-school

Until next time,

CJ Love

Busiest Summer to Date!

Greetings from Camp Jorn!  Our busy weeks at camp have prevented us from posting very often, but please know that we are thinking of all of you, and having a wonderful time with all our campers at CJ!

As parents prepare to send their kids to camp, there are often some anxieties about how the camper will do- will he or she be homesick?  Make friends?  Worry?  Ask someone for help if needed?

The following link brings the anxious parent and camper to a great article about handling some worrisome camp feelings.  We hope it gives you comfort and helps you manage some of your concerns.  Please let us know what you think!

http://www.acacamps.org/blog/parents-place/messages-anxious-camper

Happy Camping!

Below are some pics from this summer.  To see more please visit our Facebook page.

Camp Jorn YMCA Hosts a New Spring Event; Bringing the love from the Northwoods to Lake County, IL

Summer is so close, we can almost taste it!  The trees and plants are blooming, the temperatures are rising, and the sun is staying out longer each day.  This can only mean one thing…camp is almost here!!  With all the excitement and anticipation buzzing in the air, we (the CJ staff) thought we should have an event to not only use that electric energy and get everyone super excited for the summer, but also allow campers to meet some of their fellow session mates, and some of the summer staff before they get to camp.  We also thought it would be great for parents get a chance to meet the staff, which for many doesn’t happen unless they make the trek to the magical place in the Northwoods of Wisconsin.  So, this past Saturday, May 12th, Camp Jorn YMCA had its first ever Spring Campfire where we brought a little bit of the CJ spirit from the Northwoods to the Old School Forest Preserve in Lake County, IL.

From the start, we thought that the idea for the event was a great one, but we couldn’t believe the amount of interest in it until we saw it!  We had over 100 campers, parents, and friends turn out to our little Spring Campfire event!  To start it off, there was a meet and greet for campers, parents, and staff, with two fires going and s’mores for all.  Some awesome field games followed, and then it was time for our main Campfire program.  At Camp Jorn YMCA, we call our evening all-camp activity, our Campfire program.  For this program, we had a great introduction by our Camp Director, Sarah, followed by some of our favorite songs and skits led by some of our summer staff.  For some campers, they were learning these songs and seeing these skits for the first time.  And, for others, they were catching up with old camp friends on what had been going on throughput the past year and embracing the songs and skits like they were welcoming them back from a long hibernation.  Oh, those crazy camp songs that only other camp people understand and appreciate….And, Parents got to enjoy the night right along with their campers, and get a taste of what Camp Jorn is all about.

All in all, the two hour program was a blast, and we couldn’t have asked for a better night!  We look forward to hosting many of these Campfire’s in the future and can’t wait to see all of those campers that attended, this summer!

If you have some great photos or video from the Spring Campfire event, we would love to see it!  Please email Caroline with any pictures or video to caroline@campjornymca.org

Take care, and CJ love

Kids and New Experiences – Why Camp Never Gets Old

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Whether your child has been to Camp Jorn in the past, or any camp for that matter, going to camp is still a “new experience” each time around.  As a parent myself, I love to see my kids trying new things and meeting new people-  I think it helps them grow in ways they normally wouldn’t during their everyday routines.  New experiences can be exciting and scary at the same time, but if there’s one thing I believe in wholeheartedly, it’s that the camp experience is one of the best opportunities out there for kids!

 At the website “sandbox-learning.com,” I read about 7 Strategies for Preparing Children for New Experiences.  I think most of these strategies are relevant to the camp experience as well, and they have some great ideas for parents to help their kids make the transition to something new (my “camp” notes are in italics):

1.  Help Children Understand When an Event Will Occur – Children can become very excited about activities.  They may ask days or weeks in advance about plans.  Help children gain an understanding of when an event will occur by marking it on the calendar and having a countdown.  This is a great tool- count down the days to camp!

2.  Set Expectations – New experiences often come with new rules and expectations.  Be sure to set rules and expectations in advance.  Prepare children by reading books on or role playing about the new experiences.  A good strategy- for camp, you can go over the Camper Handbook with kids, check out the Camp Jorn website, and look at photos and information on this blog and our Facebook page.  You can even “pretend” to be at camp the first day, and talk about what your child might experience then.

3. Let Children Participate in Planning – Children will have more ownership in an event if they are able to help plan it. These kinds of activities teach planning and independence skills that apply later in life.  The camp experience will “belong” to your child- let them check out the “what to bring” list and pack a lot of their own clothes, talk about activities they want to participate in, and go over how to take care of their things at camp.

 4.  Build on Existing Skills and Familiar Experiences – When children relate past situations or expectations to new ones they are able to build on existing knowledge. This allows children to have a parallel for their expectations and draw on their past experiences.  Sometimes it’s tough to draw a parallel to camp, but it can be related to school field trips in which you have a lot of fun, but need to remember to stay together and follow the directions of your leader/teacher, or a family picnic where there will be a lot of people and fun things to do.

 5.  Leverage Opportunities for Learning –Events offer a multitude of opportunities for developing skills.  Use naturally occurring events to teach new skills or develop emerging skills.  Talk with your child about all the things he or she will be learning at camp- not just how to water ski, or paddle a canoe, but also how to live and work together in a cabin group, how to make new friends, and how to appreciate nature.

 6. Use Visuals – Photographs, drawings, or lists can be used as reminders for rules, expectations, or schedules.  Visuals can be viewed before, during, and after an event to set expectations, keep children on track, and review the experience.  Make sure the choice of visuals is simple, understandable, and easy to access.  This is an easy one for camp-  check out the Camp Jorn website, Camper and Parent information, this blog, Facebook, the brochure, and any surveys or communication from camp before and after your child’s session. We love to hear from you, and it helps Camp get a better idea of who your child is and how we can make his or her experience the best it can be!

7. Reinforce Appropriate Behavior –   Consistent and immediate reinforcement of appropriate behavior gives children a clear understanding of what they are doing correctly.  People tend to note when children do things wrong rather than right.  Asking your child open-ended questions before and after their camp experience helps you better understand where your child is coming from, and will help you process the experience later.  Also, we strive to be sure that things your child learns at camp will be useful to them in other parts of their lives- things you can positively acknowledge and reinforce with them, like independence, compassion, and self-worth.

Finally, celebrate your camper’s new experiences by listening to their stories, congratulating them on their successes, and giving them a big CJ hug!!

Trippin’

Hi CJ Family!

As we get closer to the most amazing summer of 2012, one of the things we think a lot about is the trips that all of our campers will go on!

Trips have always been an important part of the Camp Jorn experience.  Canoe trips on our beautiful chain of lakes, hiking trips to the Bay, or even day trips on camp property are opportunities to grow and learn.

Some people really love trips.  Some people get annoyed by the weather or the bugs.  At Camp Jorn, we believe the great things about trips heavily outweigh the challenges!!

As a Camp Jorn camper, you will definitely get a chance to learn some true camping skills.  Our staff are eager to teach CJ campers about things like how to set up a tent, how to gather different kinds of wood and start a campfire, how to cook a meal over a camp stove or fire, how to paddle a canoe or pack a backpack properly, and how to leave your campsite looking like no one was there.  It’s the art of minimum impact camping, and we’re proud to show it off!

Usually, our younger cabins go on a “day trip,” or a short overnight trip close to camp as their first trip experience.  Fox Island is a great place for these kinds of trips, as is the Bay, and even the athletic field in the middle of camp!  Some of our younger cabin groups have even been known to set up a tent in their cabin!  In any case, younger campers learn some of the basics about camping, and they play some fun games with their cabin in the process.

Older cabin groups go on a one or two night trip, and learn a bit more about what it takes to live in the wilderness for a short time.  We are so proud watching these campers go out with their counselors and JCs in canoes or on a backpacking trail!  Although sometimes it rains, or the mosquitoes come out to play, everyone who comes back from their trip can say “I did that!”  These kids learn the value of working together to get where they want to go, provide their own meals, and get along in a small group.  And they usually have a great time, and have some great stories to tell when they get back!!

TEVA campers go on a 3-4 night trip when they’re at camp.  CITs are gone for 5-8 nights on a canoe or backpacking trip.  The sense of self-confidence and accomplishment these leadership campers gain while on this trips is clearly evident when they get back into camp.  And the close-knit feeling of the group is a bond that can’t be broken- ask any of the TEVAs and CITs you know!!

Not only do trips help increase self-esteem and bring a group closer together, but research shows that trips help kids learn self-efficacy, or the concept that we can control our own functioning, and the events that affect our lives.  Check out this link for an excellent article on this concept.

I especially like this excerpt from the article:  “An individual’s positive judgment based on their efficacy promotes active involvement in activities and contributes to the growth of competencies needed in that activity.”  In other words, the self-efficacy learned on the trail carries over in a positive way into the life of the child outside of camp.

Let us know your thoughts on trips! We’d love to hear what trips you’ve been on, what you learned from them, and encouraging words for our campers who have not yet experienced a trip!

Camp Jorn sharing its pride and spirit with the world

 

This past Tuesday, March 20th, Camp Jorn YMCA joined several other YMCA camps to show our support for our favorite Y camp by wearing shirts, hats, pants, or whatever we could find to school/work.  Many of our campers, alumni, staff, friends, and supporters have pride in showing off their Camp Jorn spirit to the rest of the world because of what CJ means to them and what camp does for their own spirit.

pride: pleasure or satisfaction taken in something done by or belonging to oneself or believed to reflect credit upon oneself

spirit: enthusiasm, energy, zeal, ardor, fire;  nature, drift, tenor, gist, essence, sense

Whether you are a camper looking forward to your first year at Camp Jorn, or an alumni that has accumulated mass amounts of CJ apparel…we are grateful to have you as a part of our CJ family.

Thanks to everyone for showing your pride in Camp Jorn, and your spirit for telling the world about this wonderful place and people!!