Summer staff training has begun at Camps Connect, and that means a flurry of activity taking place on the camps. From greeting new staff members from Michigan and beyond, to participating in new name games and activities, this time of new beginnings is filled with hope and promise for our 2014 summer camp staff!
So why do we do staff training? In a nutshell we do it to experience camp life before the campers arrive so that we can share with them the same experiences we have as staff members; being the new person, playing name games, and building a team through activities and initiatives are all important steps that we take to relate to our campers.
Having a properly trained staff is also an important step in reducing the risk of accidents and injuries on camp. Safety training is an essential part of every activity area and embedded in the culture of Camps Connect. Staff are required to take a 3 hour course on Protecting God's Children. After all, we are in fact taking care of someone else's gift from God when we act in loco parentis, which literally means, "in place of the parent."
The number one concern of parents in staff qualifications and supervision. This week and in the week to come we'll be diving into a variety of training sessions to ensure that our staff have the skills and qualifications to be entrusted with their most precious children. In addition, staff will learn to facilitate camper health, opportunities for communication with children, camper expectations and behaviors, and camp program logistics to ensure a smooth and successful summer camp experience for each child.
So stay tuned! We've got lots to share as we journey into Summer Camp 20141
For more information about Camps Connect and our summer camp programs for boys and girls ages 7-16 on the shores of Lake Huron please visit: www.campsconnect.org
As we mentioned before in our last post, staff orientation is just days away! Today our admin staff arrive at camp and put the finishing magical touches on all the great stuff happening this summer! We still have more summer staff to introduce...
Hi, I'm "Blossom"! I currently work at a preschool and I'm from Oxford, Michigan. I've worked at camp since 2011 and I'm excited to be a counselor at CYO Camps this summer!
I love working at camp. It's like my second home. I am really excited about meeting the new campers and staff and seeing who is returning to camp this summer.
Hi, I'm Trevor Harnden and I'm from Marlette, Michigan. I've been working at camp since 2012. This summer I will be a Team Leader at the CYO Camps.
I want to work at camp this summer to give kids of all ages, one of the best weeks of their lives., and give them an experience they will always remember. I also want to help kids, either grow their relationship with God, or even just learn more about God and the the word of the Bible. I also want to learn more about myself, and maybe find some new talents I never knew I had.
I'm really looking forward to being around nature and getting away from technology for a while. Just having a fun time with the campers, and staff. I am a musician, (I write music and I can also play, piano, ukulele, guitar, drums, accordion, bass.) Other hobbies include soccer refereeing, video games, telling lame jokes, going to festivals, dressing up in costumes, juggling, D.J.
When I grow up I want to travel around the world, doing something I love.
My name is "SASQUATCH"! I'm from Clinton Twp., Michigan and a recent graduate of Wayne State University with a dual major in English and History. I want to be a high school teacher. I like reading, swimming, video games, and CAMP!
I've been working at camp since 2012 and this summer I will be a counselor at Camp Ozanam. I can't stay away! These past two summers have been the best of my life and I can't imagine not coming back again.
This summer, I'm really looking forward to EAGLE'S EGGS!
St. Vincent DePaul Detroit enrollment for 2014 Summer Camp is well underway. The Vincentians have been busy meeting with campers and their families and getting them registered for Camp Ozanam! The 9 scheduled enrollment gatherings have already been held and there is still room for campers ages 8-12 in trips 3, 4 and 5. Adventure Camp is filled!
Camper applications should be returned to your Vincentian and they will be forwarded to camp upon approval.
For more information about how to enroll a camper in this program visit: svdpdet.org/need-help/camps
Can you believe it? The start of summer camp staff training is just DAYS away!
We've been busy with Camp Ozanam camper enrollment gatherings and doing our last minute preparations for Summer Camp. But there are still more staff to meet... so sit down, relax and think summer as you read about our newest Camp Ozanam staff member!
This week we'd like to introduce Sara Hartshorn, from Harrison, MI! Sara is new to Camp Ozanam, but she's not new to the summer camp scene. She's enjoyed the summer camp environment for many summers as a kid.
"I'm really looking forward to helping the campers have some of the same great experiences that I had. I am excited for the opportunity to help them learn, grow and get to know God.", says Sara.
As a counselor this summer, Sara is "looking forward to meeting and getting to know all of the fellow staff members and the campers. I'm very excited and eager to learn about the camp traditions and try new things. I'm especially looking forward to waking up early, going to chapel, singing camp songs, spending time at the lake and going to campfires!"
Sara has a lot of energy and enthusiasm for life, and that spills over into her relationship with God. She tells us, "I'm really goofy and silly and I like to make people laugh," and she's looking forward to sharing the Gospel this summer through the opportunities she'll have to create fun memories with Ozanam campers.
Sara likes to sing, cook, go hiking and kayaking, and hang out at the beach.
"I'm a huge nerd - I love super heroes (Thor is my favorite!), Harry Potter, dinosaurs, and Disney movies!"
Welcome to the Camp Ozanam family Sara!
Our first session of summer 2014 campers arrive in just over 25 days!
Our summer camp program, offered at Camp Ozanam for both boys and girls ages 8 to 14, provides the benefits of a traditional summer residential camp in a safe, fun-filled atmosphere where campers are inspired by the gospel of Jesus Christ. SVdP offers a free one week summer camp program for children who present an identifiable need such as death in family, foster care, underprivileged, and/or economic hardship.
Do you know a child who needs camp? Click Here to learn how to enroll a camper!
In light of the social and societal challenges that kids face, it is no wonder that parents are scrambling for ways to ensure their child's success as adults. Its encouraging to know the experiences that kids have at camp make them more resilient to life stress. Summer camp is a place of discovery which can have a life-long impact on a child’s development.
After all, there are not too many places where kids can explore carefully calculated challenges without a parent’s input.
“So which experiences, then, are most likely to make children resilient? The best camps do not provide cookie-cutter solutions to what kids need. Instead, great camps understand that the factors that make children resilient are cumulative. One experience contributes to others, expanding a child’s psychosocial resources exponentially.”
There are the simple challenges of conquering the mudslide, starting a campfire, and mastering a ropes course. Then there are the more complex challenges of learning how to ask for help from others, becoming a cabin team with a group of people you have never met, or having the influence to lead a group of peers for the first time. These skill-based and social-based learning experiences can introduce them to new ways of doing things and give them the confidence to handle new situations on their own. The “can-do” attitude is a trait many parents want to instill in their kids. However, this can only be achieved if they are faced with new challenges on their own.
At Camps Connect our three summer camps model how to support each other, to take risks (maybe even struggle or fail at something), but still strive to be the best we can as part of our camp philosophy. Countless experts have discussed the importance of resilience in children as they develop into healthy young adults. The best camping experiences offer these opportunities for manageable amounts of risk and responsibility. Being camp professionals, we know how important summer camp can be for a child’s social, emotional and behavioral growth. Michael Ungar, PhD wrote in the September/October 2012 issue of ACA’s Camping Magazine, “So which experiences, then, are most likely to make children resilient? The best camps do not provide cookie-cutter solutions to what kids need. Instead, great camps understand that the factors that make children resilient are cumulative. One experience contributes to others, expanding a child’s psychosocial resources exponentially.”
How do we provide support for our campers beyond the cookie cutter approach? We believe that one of the most important things we do at our camps is to build and increase self-esteem in each and every camper. We do this by taking the time to really get to know each of our campers right from the beginning. Relationship building is critical at camp, and our staff take the time top model that important skill with our campers. The biggest benefit of building those positive relationships between campers and staff are that the counselors know what each child needs to grow.
So what kinds of cumulative experiences do our Camps Connect facilities offer?
1) New relationships with peers and trusted adults other than their parents. Coming to camp means joining a close-knit community where everyone must agree to cooperate and respect each other. When they live in a cabin with others, kids share chores, resolve disagreements, and see firsthand the importance of sincere communication. Camp builds teamwork and trust.
2) A powerful identity in Christ. Understanding the Truth about their identity in Christ can help children know they are God's special creation, each with a purpose and a hope and many promises of God they can count on. Knowing and choosing to believe what God says about them can protect children from succumbing to depression, anxiety, peer pressure, fear, poor choices, and even suicide. In addition, it can help them fulfill their God-given potential and purpose.
3) Confidence in their talents and abilities. Your child may not be the best on the ropes course, the fastest swimmer, or the next teen idol when he sings, but our camp counselors are going to help your child find something to be proud of that he or she can do well because they have built relationships with adults they can trust.
4) Camps make sure that all children are treated fairly. When children come to our camps they can leave behind all the negative labels they may have at home or school. They are no longer the “nerd” “the poor student,” “always hyperactive,” or some who is measured up to their siblings. There is nothing as influential as being in a positive environment. Our staff are trained to not only to handle bullying issues if they arise, but how to create a positive atmosphere where children treat each other like they want to be treated. At camp they will find opportunities to just be kids who are valued for who they are.
5) At camp kids develop life-long skills. Ideally this is accomplished through fresh air, exercise, and a balance between routine and unstructured playtime. Our camps and competent staff provide the right instruction, equipment and facilities for kids to enhance their sports abilities, their artistic talents, and their adventure skills. The sheer variety of activities offered at our camps makes it easy for kids to discover and develop what they like to do with caring and supportive counselors by their side.
6) Camp offers kids a chance to feel like they belong. In today’s world although we are more connected than ever by modern technology we see kids lacking deep personal connections to others. Kids need help developing social bonds and learning interpersonal skills based on empathy and understanding. Our camps offer a culture of togetherness by engaging our campers in the camp community through small and large group play while helping them to develop healthy connections. Cabin chants and skits, name games, group songs, teamwork, and healthy doses of competition go a long way to offering children a sense of being accepted and rooted.
7) And finally, camp offers children a better sense of their culture as they participate with kids and staff who are culturally diverse. At our camps, kids and staff regularly share in activities such as stories, skits, or times of reflection that provide insight into the values of our Catholic community and their own cultural backgrounds. This gives kids a chance to understand themselves a bit more as they share their own culture and experience others.
At Camps Connect, our camps give children a combination of experiences that prepare them well for life. Our staff are trained to help children embrace these moments, both the struggles and triumphs to develop strength, acquire coping skills, learn how to navigate hardships, and have an anchor by which to face future challenges. This resiliency will help them succeed in life.
I think this perfectly describes what we do at Camps Connect each and every summer. It is our experience that this cumulative approach gives our campers many valuable tools to seek help should they need it, whether that is at camp or at home.
Camps Connect is a true collaboration between Catholic Youth Organization Camps and St. Vincent DePaul Camps. We provide summer camp for boys & girls, family camp, retreat and conference facilities, and outdoor education experiences on the scenic shores of Lake Huron, Michigan. A deep rooted faith and extraordinary service runs through every decision we make. And that philosophy has made a lasting impact in the lives of families and youth for over 90 years! Learn more at www.campsconnect.org
Today we're pleased to introduce you to a new staff member who is a great storyteller, Sydney Hammuck.
Sydney, aka: Syd, is from Palatine Illinois and currently attends Loyola University Chicago. She's also a world traveler with a recent stay in Cambodia during a semester abroad experience.
Syd was able to attend camp as a child, and fondly remembers, "I look back at my own experience going to camp when I was younger, and absolutely loved it! The friendships that I made, and the growing I did spiritually are experiences that I wouldn't change for the world. Looking back at camp, I remember my counselors being some of the people who helped make the experience as great as it was, so I would love the opportunity to do the same."
Syd will get that opportunity this summer, as a counselor at CYO Girls Camp. She is really looking forward to all the friendships she will be able to make, and the chance to make that happen for her campers too!
Syd's hobbies include Writing poetry, biking, and watching movies. She tells us, "I love to dance anywhere at anytime (even though I am terrible at it)!" When she grows up she wants to be "a Child Welfare Social Worker, or a famous actress...whatever comes first."
Welcome to CYO Camps Sydney!
Parents - There is till time to register for summer camp but... DON'T WAIT - REGISTER TODAY, especially if you are interested in attending one of our specialty camps this summer as they are filling up fast.
Bring a friend and receive a gift certificate for $25 off the 2015 camp registration! Our counselors and staff are looking forward to spending a week with your child this summer!
The countdown has begun and we are getting ready for your arrival at CYO Camps! As you begin to prepare for camp, here are some tips to help you get ready! We can’t wait for the FUN to begin!
We have you covered as you begin to prepare for camp! Be sure to check out our packing list to see what you should bring along with you. Take a look at all camp has to offer. This is sure to get you excited!
Parents: As you get closer to your child’s week at camp, begin preparing them for the overnight experience. We have some tips to get you started and to ensure your camper is a happy one!
And lastly, get to know our staff. We are proud to have well-trained counselors and leadership on staff to ensure that your child is well cared for. We encourage you to read our Staff Spotlight posts and talk to your camper’s counselor at drop off. We look forward to getting to know your camper!
A PREPARED CHILD MAKES A HAPPY CAMPER
Coming to camp for a whole week is an awesome opportunity for kids and parents. And sometimes that awesomeness can seem a bit overwhelming. We want kids to have an amazing time, and we want parents to help foster the feeling of what a blast it’s going to be. Most children adjust quickly to the camp environment. However, homesickness is a natural feeling, especially for children who have never been away from home. Our staff is trained to handle this sensitive situation with compassion and understanding.
We feel it’s very important to talk with your child before camp. You can help your child, prior to camp, by being positive and encouraging about the experience.
So here are some things to think about to help your child acclimate to camp life:
Explain what they can expect. Talk about goals. Ask them what they want to get out of camp. What you want them to learn. Encourage them to make new friends.
If your child seems a bit anxious, we suggest they take a look at all camp has to offer. This is sure to get them excited!
The most common mistake parents make is the Pick-Up Deal. It's normal for children to ask, "What if I feel homesick or I don’t like camp?" Tell your child that some feelings of anxiety and homesickness are normal and help them practice coping before camp starts. But never ever say, "If you feel homesick, I'll come and get you." This conveys a message of doubt and pity that undermines children's confidence and independence. Pick-Up Deals become mental crutches and self-fulfilling prophecies for children as soon as they arrive at camp.
Talk to your child’s counselor at drop-off. Get to know him or her. Discuss your child’s goals. Be at ease, don’t let your child know you may have some anxiety. It’s hard for first-time parents, we totally understand, just keep in mind it’s so important to help your camper be super positive.
Usually after the first full day/night of camp has come and gone the camper
begins to feel more secure at camp. And, normally a child will send home a letter of
distress the first day before they give camp a try. By the time you receive the letter
they will have adjusted and feel more comfortable. However, please call us if you have concerns.
Remember, we’re here as a partner to help your child gain independence. We don’t take that responsibility lightly.
Overnight camp is a unique opportunity for your child to learn new things and grow in ways he or she wouldn’t outside of camp. Get excited, it’s going to be a fantastic week!
Still a little nervous? Contact the Camps Office and speak with our Director of Camps, Caroline Krucker. She will answer any questions you may have a put your mind at ease. Caroline can be reached at (810) 622-8744.
There is a lot of research that says cell phone use is not helpful to the growth of a child and we at camp believe that to be true. But more important, CYO Camps are about having fun in the great outdoors - not constantly being distracted by a cell phone. A camper can use their cell phone when they are at home. We want them to play when they are at CYO Camps!
We really want to spend time playing and having fun with your child at camp. We do not want to worry about a phone ringing while we are at activity times. We all know that when the camper doesn't answer, the camp office phone rings because the parent is now worried their child is in danger. Or… we stop playing for the new text that arrived so everyone can read it or a friend sent a photo that is all the rage. Then there is that cell phone that was left somewhere in the sand at the beach when the cabin went swimming and the entire cabin is late to the next activity because the cabin stopped to look for it. There is also the reality that 90% of cell phones do not get reception at camp and if you are in the lucky 10% it’s roaming and
usually picks up a Canadian tower.
The other item that tends to be forgotten is the cabins only have one plug which the staff use for the fan and alarm clock. Extension cords are not allowed in cabins per Fire Code. So our question, which camper in the cabin gets to plug in their phone because when a phone roams all day it doesn’t hold a charge. There are parents who read the above and said, “We agree! My child is not bringing a cell phone to camp!”.Thank you!!! For those parents who disagreed and need the expert advise please continue reading. We believe the following excerpt taken from the ACA Camping Magazine written by Bob Ditter, a licensed clinical social worker specializing in child, adolescent, & family therapy says it best!
“The fundamental issue with parents giving campers cell phones to take to camp is trust. When children come to camp they – and you as their parents – are making a leap of faith, temporarily transferring their primary care from you to us and their counselors. This is one of many growth-producing, yet challenging aspects of camp. As children learn to trust other caring adults, they grow and learn, little by little, to solve some of their own challenges. We believe this emerging independence is one of the greatest benefits of camp. It is one important way your child develops greater resilience and self-reliance. Contacting you by phone essentially means they have not made this transition. It prevents us from getting to the problems that may arise and addressing them quickly. Sending a cell phone to camp is like saying to your child that you as the parent haven’t truly come to peace with the notion of their being away from you and in our care. It may even cause some children to worry that they can never solve their own problems without always involving their parents.”
In keeping with our goal to help your child develop and have fun, we do not allow cell phones at camp. Cell phones will be collected by staff and may not be returned as we will not be responsible if it gets lost, misplaced, or stolen. Please leave them at home!
For information about what to bring to camp, how to manage homesickness, keeping in touch with your kids while they are at camp, and more, please download our
CYO Camps 2014 Confirmation Packet.
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