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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!

 

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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!!

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.