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Session One has Begun!!

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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.

Rainy Day Activities!

Hello Everyone,

Today has been a crazy day, with hail this morning and thunderstorms this afternoon! Although the kids are having fun making candy sushi, friendship bracelets, and tie-dying! There was a few sunny hours where the kids got to play messy twister!

The White Water Rafting trip went very well! There was not a rain drop the entire trip and everyone had a blast! All the kids said “That was Awesome!” when they got back to camp.

Tonight we have our weekly Sock Hop! Which will be indoors, and everyone will be dressing in their finest superhero outfits.

Hope everyone has a nice Thursday! We are sad that tomorrow is our last full day with Session One Campers, but we will have Friendship Fire tomorrow night!

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

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

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!

 

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!!

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!!

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.