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Session One has Begun!!

IMG_3823 IMG_3822

Woohoo!  Summer 2014 has officially begun with the arrival of our Session One campers.  We could not be more excited!  Today was a busy day.  The clouds and rain changed into a beautiful sunny afternoon/evening just as the campers on the bus arrived.  Campers were introduced to their cabin mates, went on a round robin to various key places on camp, had swim assessments, signed up for classes, and more.  We had a yummy spaghetti dinner and ended the night with our opening campfire.  All is well at Camp Jorn, and tomorrow looks like it’s going to be a beautiful day.   On a closing note, Happy Fathers Day to all of our wonderful CJ fathers and father figures.

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

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.

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

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!

If Only Every Child Could Go to Camp Jorn

Making "campfire apple pie" for our LITE (Learn It This Evening) night

After each session of resident camp, we ask parents and kids to let us know how the Camp Jorn experience was for them.  We are eager to hear about the things we can work on so that we can make the changes we need to make, and we also love to hear what we’re doing well so we can keep doing that!

We thought we’d send out a “feel-good” blog post today with some of the wonderful feedback we’ve heard from campers and their parents in the recent past.

Enjoy!

From Parents:

My daughter had a wonderful time and experience.  She loved her time at camp and we hope she has the opportunity to participate in the future.  Thanks to everyone for all of your efforts!

My daughter had such a good time she didn’t want to come home!  She asked if she could go 2 weeks next summer!  Way to go Camp Jorn!  You guys rock!!!  The lessons you teach the children are just phenomenal.  My daughter not only learned to be independent, but she learned that having fun doesn’t have to include video games, iPods and cell phones.  I LOVE the fact that you guys keep them busy all day long doing actual activities.  I would recommend Camp Jorn to everyone I know that has a child.  I LOVE you guys!!!

I love to hear the stories [my child] tells when she gets off the bus, and how excited she is to tell us.  I think Camp Jorn’s staff is doing a wonderful job with these kids!

Camp was a great experience overall.  It was my daughter’s first time and she will be back next year.

Keep up the good work.  You can tell by the pictures that he is a happy kid while he is there.

Great camp- she had a fantastic time!

Everything was great, and the staff was awesome!

This was her first away from home resident camping experience.  She had a wonderful time and was disappointed on Saturday morning when she had to board the bus to come home.  Thanks to everyone for making her first experience an enjoyable one.

I was unsure at first about sending her for two weeks…  BUT I must say your staff all around helped me be more comfortable with her gone.  She had the best summer experience anyone could have ever given her.  Thank you again from the bottom of my heart.

This was the best experience for my daughter who left shy and reserved but returned full of life, independent and eager to make friends.  Thank God for Camp Jorn!

The experience is better each and every time for my children and they are planning on attending next year already.  Thank you for all that you do.  You absolutely make a huge difference in the children’s lives.

Top notch!  My kids loved it!

This has been an awesome experience for my son.  I haven’t seen him this happy in a long time.   He’s looking forward to being in camp next year.  Thank you once again.

Great job…  thanks for treating my daughter with kindness.

Everyone in our group grew personally from their CJ experience–  thanks to the staff for a job well done!

From Kids:

What did you like best about camp?  EVERYTHING!

I loved bonding with my fellow TEVA girls!

I loved the overnight camping, waterskiiing and sailing.

I like being away from my usual schedule and being able to do things that I wouldn’t be able to do at home

I liked meeting new people and learning how to make different crafts.

Friends, activities, FUN

I liked meeting new people and making friends, the beautiful scenery, and fun classes

Friendly people, my counselor, and I was busy all the time

I like being around kids my own age that treated me with respect.  I LOVED horseback riding and water skiing.

I feel like I belong at CJ

Camp Jorn is changing lives!  Tell us how it’s changed yours!

 

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!

Staff Training: What Sets Camp Jorn Apart

 

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As we finish up staff interviewing and hiring for the summer of 2012, we turn to the work of creating the highest quality Staff Training program we can.  Our campers deserve only the BEST OF THE BEST!  Staff Training week is one of the most challenging yet incredibly rewarding weeks of the summer for our staff, as they ready themselves for the amazing job of helping campers recognize and develop value in themselves and in the world around them.

Typically, the management team of Directors arrives early in June, working for a few days on things like getting their program areas ready and putting together lesson plans for classes.  We also talk about aspects of good supervision, helping the counseling staff do their best, and what it takes to run a great program all summer long.

Then the assistants, instructors, counselors and junior counselors arrive and the enthusiasm and level of excitement increase by a million percent!!  Of course, we need to get our certifications in Wilderness First Aid, CPR, and Lifeguarding completed.  Then we spend the next several days getting ready for the important work ahead of us.

This year, we’re excited to have the folks from uLEAD running some excellent sessions for our staff.  uLEAD is an organization that provides “unique leadership experiences for asset development.”  Based in Indiana, uLEAD offers measurable experiences for leadership, growth, and change, utilizing their Leadership3 model.  This model “was created to affect lasting change and leadership that sticks by focusing on six core principles.”  These principles are: design, balance, community, competence, skills, and vision.  uLEAD works with the Search Institute’s 40 Developmental Assets model, and focuses as well on the concept of Servant Leadership.  We are confident that our investment in this training will result in an extremely valuable experience for staff, that will enable them to provide the highest quality Camp Jorn experience for campers.

The remainder of our Staff Training week consists of SO many things, it’s sometimes tough to comprehend!

  • Trips orientation and training
  • Emergency procedures and drills
  • Child Abuse Prevention and policies
  • Child development, relationship-building, behavior management
  • Role playing camper situations
  • Teaching practices, program progression, recognition of accomplishments
  • Environmental stewardship, conservation practices, appreciating our natural world
  • Evening programs, themes, campfires, songs, fun!

The list goes on!  In the end, we arrive at our first camper session READY and chomping at the bit to get started with the BEST SUMMER EVER, 2012!!!

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.