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60 Years in the Making

Friendship Fire-We the Elders

Greetings all!

Another summer is roaring towards us! Every summer brings with it new excitement and it’s own uniqueness, but this year marks a very special place in our history.  This summer, we are celebrating our 60th anniversary!!  60 years is an accomplishment, but for CJ it feels like an even bigger accomplishment because it involves so many.  In the camping world, we say “we’re in the relationship business,” and it’s true.  Our history is only important because of all the connections and relationships we’ve made with the people that have crossed our path.  Not only would we not be in existence without you, but we wouldn’t have had such a rich and fulfilling past and an even brighter future to look forward to, without you.  For that, we thank you!

This August 16 through 19, we’ll be wrapping up our summer with a 60th anniversary weekend celebration, and we hope you can join us!  Friday evening, August 16, will kick off the weekend with a group dinner and performance from Bret & Frisk.  Saturday will host many of your favorite camp activities like canoeing on Rest Lake, horseback riding, water skiing, archery, etc.  We’ll also have a special celebration Saturday night.  Sunday, we’ll host our Up-North community pancake breakfast and leave you to your leisure to enjoy CJ.  To register, please check out our 60th anniversary page on our website or call the camp office at 715-543-8808.

We’re also in the process of creating a Camp Jorn History book, with help of author “Buckshot” Anderson.  Buckhot, is gathering stories from alumni to add to the book and get a feel of what the last 60 years at camp have been like.  If you’d like to share your CJ story to be considered for the book, please go to our online questionnaire.  The book will also feature photos from over the last 60 years.  If you’d like to see our historical photos you can view them at SmugMug or on our Camp Jorn YMCA Facebook page.

Although things have changed in many ways over the last 60 years at Camp Jorn, many things remain the same.  Children still sing the same songs, take the same bus ride up to camp, swim & play in Rest Lake, have camp outs at Fox Island, and come to camp for new adventures and leave as better people than when they arrived.  That is what CJ is at it’s heart, and something that will stand the test of time.

CJ Love

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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

What’s a Loon?

We respect every creature, even if they are slippery

We have our first guest blogger for our Now Is My Story blog.  This post was written by one of our past campers, and CJ Staff Alum, Jessy Zich.  Jessy has traveled the world following her passion for the environment and its creatures.  She has shared her passion with many campers and staff at Camp Jorn, which we are grateful.  This passion, she credits as being nurtured through attending CJ, has inspired her to continue to pass her knowledge and caring on to the future leaders of tomorrow.  Enjoy

It is hard to imagine a time before cell phones, video games, the Internet and social networks.  It’s hard to imagine such times, because it’s hard to believe that we ever survived without such devices, but we did.   Today such forms of technology have taken over our lives and the way we live, in ways we probably never imagined possible.  Worst of all, it is taking away the childhoods of many children.

Take your average American teenager, for example.  They probably have a cell phone that is just as nice as the one their parents have.  This average American child also spends about 40 to 50 hours a week on social networks, television and video games.  In fact they have a whole social world at their fingertips and a whole made up self-image online.  They may spend a little time outside at school recess, or sports functions.  Depending on their neighborhood, they may not have access to parks and other areas of recreation.  Some neighborhoods may be too dangerous, and others far out in the suburbs where parks are only accessible by car.

Of course this is not the case for every child, but studies are showing that the majority of our children are simply losing their childhood.  Yes, they are being entirely robbed of building forts, getting scrapes on their legs, collecting bugs, and playing in the dirt!  They are losing the best part of their years, years that are crucial for exploration, self-development, and building friendships.

One of the greatest losses with all of this is a child’s relationship with nature.  Our children are becoming nature deficient as Richard Louv coins it, in Last Child Left in The Woods.  Our kids can easily name every African mammal, but cannot name a single local mammal other than a squirrel.  The childhood their parents had may be much different then their own.  Simply put, when we had no reason to be inside, we weren’t.  Not having a reason to stay inside, may be why being outdoors was a huge part of being a kid.

There are several ways in which parents can bring their children back to nature.  Simply limiting the amount of time they use media devices, taking them to natural areas, going on camping trips, and sending them to outdoor camps.

Camps such as Camp Jorn YMCA, play a vital role in the development of children.  It’s a real life, hands on, life changing experience.  Campers grow as individuals, meet friends, learn about responsibility, and discover the world around them.  For those kids lucky enough to experience Camp Jorn, they are able to see the northwoods, and live and become a part of it.  Camp Jorn’s Environmental Program encourages children to take time to discover what the Northwoods has to offer.  Campers are able to do a variety of activities, from nature hikes, canoeing to the island and looking for the resident bald eagle’s nest, learning outdoor survival, and looking for small creatures on the shores of Rest Lake.

Campers don’t have to be in Environmental class to experience nature.  Courses and night hikes are offered for cabin activities as well.  On trips, campers explore northern Wisconsin by foot or canoe.   They learn how to look at maps, and become more aware of their surroundings. After a whole day of working together to get to their campsite and prepare dinner, they sleep under the stars.   More than likely they are awakened by the cries of a common Loon on one of the many lakes in Vilas County.  Last year some of our campers sat and watched as the Northern Lights flickered in green and red across the sky; they watched eagles soar, saw the milky way, helped make a fire, sailed across a lake and had days filled with laughter and happiness.  Camp Jorn provides a positive adventurous experience for children and adults of all ages.  We hope to see you there!

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!

Learning at Camp???

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I know, it’s crazy, right?  Learning is what you have to do the rest of the year at school!!  Camp is all about fun, activities, and friends, not learning!!

Hate to break it to you, but there’s actually a LOT of learning going on at Camp!  But don’t worry, it’s only the FUN kind you don’t even notice.

Check it out- you’re really learning all these great things!

  • How to make friends, and be a friend
  • How to live in a cabin with a bunch of other people and take care of yourself and your stuff
  • How to shoot a bow and arrow
  • How to water ski
  • How to get along with people who are different from you
  • How to take care of and ride a horse
  • How to make a dream catcher
  • How to set up a tent and cook food over a campfire
  • Why identifying poison ivy is important
  • What a Bluff Lion is
  • How to swim, paddle a canoe, or sail
  • What an eagle’s nest looks like
  • What it’s like to try something you never thought you’d ever do
  • That you can live without your iPod (at least for a little while)
  • That hiking boots work better for canoe trips than flip flops
  • That counselors are really cool and are great examples for how you can live

And…

  • What it means to really be yourself

Feel free to comment and share some of the things you’ve learned at camp.

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.