What makes camp so special to me is being able to escape from my everyday life for 7 weeks and spend this time in my favorite place in the world with the greatest friends I have ever met. These kids I have experienced the past 6 summers with have became my family. Every summer gets better and better as I create more unforgettable memories with my best friends. Over the years, I have grown as a person as a result of camp and life would simply not be the same without the amazing experience that is camp. Camp Taconic is a friendly and welcoming environment and I cannot wait to finally experience my teens summer, which I have been looking forward to since my first day at camp!

The reason I look forward to camp is because I get to spend nearly two months with some of my best friends in the world.  The friends I have made at camp are some of the nicest, funniest, most caring, and fun people that I know. Spending time with them is always the highlight of my year.  Camp is a great place to be because for nearly two months, you get to leave home for this amazing place where you get to spend time with friends, do fun activities, and much more. Camp Taconic is so special to me because it is the place where I have created some of my best memories with my friends every single year.  Every year is more fun than the year before, and everything keeps on getting better and better. Camp is my favorite place in the world, and I am so excited to be going back this summer!

Boys at Taconic Trapeze

Feeling Good

American Camp Association research has found that 92 percent of campers said that camp helped them feel good about themselves and 70 percent of parents reported thattheir child gained self-confidence. Building self-esteem happens easily at camp. When a camper puts her head under water for the first time or gets to the top of the climbing wall she was scared to try, she builds confidence by accomplishing something new and challenging. “When children try a new activity and see a good outcome at the end, they build determination and grit,” says Gordon Josey, owner and director of Breezemont Day Camp in Armonk. On My OwnCamp fosters independence. When children are away from their parents, it allows them to think independently and feel good about making a decision on their own. Dan Weir, director of Camping Services at Frost Valley YMCA in the Catskills says, “Children gain confidence in decision making at camp and as they do, their independence grows. They feel comfortable taking action because they know they can make a decision. They gain a sense of independence and self-identity.”

 

New Experiences

Each day of camp brings a new opportunity for children. Research by the American Camp Association found that 74 percent of campers said they did things at camp that they were afraid to do at first. One day your child might be waterskiing around the lake and another day he may be going down the zip line. “All in one place, a child can swim, do arts & crafts, wacky science, cooking, basketball, soccer, music and theater,” says Josey. Trying new activities allows your child to broaden his or her horizons and learn to be open about participating in things that aren’t familiar. “Camp provides experiences children won’t necessarily get at home,” comments Weir. “At our Farm Camp, children interact with sheep, pigs and goats which is very different than what they would be doing at home. Camp exposes children to new activities and encourages children to push their boundaries by trying something for the first time.”

 

All Together Now

At camp, children learn to become part of a community. They learn to share in camp traditions, work together and at overnight camp, live together in bunks. Becoming part of a strong camp community can help children learn to live with others and help better prepare them for the college experience. Weir says, “When you live with people for two weeks, you bond with individuals you may not have if you weren’t in the same camp community. Campers come from all different neighborhoods and socioeconomic backgrounds but at camp, you have common ground.” Josey adds, “It’s not the sports that make camp special. It’s the relationships campers form with other campers and staff, the songs they sing together and the shared traditions that make children feel part of a strong community.”

Tech-less

In a report by Common Sense Media, it states that tweens spend 6 hours a day and teens 9 hours a day consuming media. This includes watching videos, TV, video games and social media. Instead of engaging in human interactions, children are staring at screens throughout the year. Summer camp has become one of the last unplugged environments for children. “Today’s children are connected more than ever by ‘talking’ on their devices but are increasingly lonely and isolated. At camp you are forced to be an active part of the community without a device. Campers have to put themselves out there and drop their inhibitions. They aren’t crafting responses and making sure their selfies are taken in the right direction. They have to be who they are in the moment,” comments Weir.

 

All Around Good

Camp allows children to play in a safe and nurturing environment with a caring and supportive staff. Play is an important form of learning that contributes to a child’s healthy physical, emotional, social and intellectual development. “The magic of camp is a child can just be a child. They can have fun and learn new activities all in a supportive and safe environment that is just for them,” says Josey.

 

Weir feels the staff at camp is so important for a child’s camp experience. “When we hire staff, we look for people who want to be with kids, take an interest in their development and put the child first. We also make sure through staff training that the staff is carrying out our camp’s philosophy and goals.”

Read More Here: http://westchesterfamily.com/article/what-makes-camp-so-special.html

Each day, campers enjoy trying new activities but what many people don’t realize is that camp is a unique learning environment that contributes to the positive development of children. Below are the top 7 reasons children need the camp experience to help them gain important life skills that will help them to grow into successful adults.

  1. Children discover their interests. Whether it’s getting on a horse for the first time or kayaking across the lake, camp allows children to try new things and learn about what they like to do. Children also step out of their comfort zones at camp and participate in activities that may at feel scary to them.   According to research by the American Camp Association, 74% of campers said that at camp, they did something that at first they were scared to do.
  2. Gain independence. Both day and overnight camp allows children a healthy separation from their parents. When children are away from their parents, they learn to trust their own instincts and make decisions on their own.   Whether by choosing an elective period on their own or solving a disagreement with a bunk make without their parents’ assistance, children build confidence by doing things on their own.
  3. Gain important skills 21st century employers are seeking. While school is an important learning environment for skills such as reading and math, the skills employers are looking for are the soft skills. According to research by the Partnership for 21st Century Learning, a group of Fortune 500 companies such as Apple, Dell and Microsoft, the skills 21st century employers are looking for are communication, collaboration, problem solving, critical thinking and creativity which are all skills that are fostered at camp.
  4. Take a break from technology. A Kaiser Family Foundation study has found that today’s children spend over 7.5 hours a day engaged in media. When children spend their time behind a screen or texting all day, they miss out on important social interactions.  The majority of summer camps don’t allow technology including ipads, smart phones, laptops and TVs.  This means no Instagram and snapchat, allowing children to communicate face to face and participate in hands on activities.
  5. Build Resilience. It’s important for children to develop resilience for coping with the obstacles and stresses that inevitably will happen in their lives. When a child doesn’t at first make it to the top of the climbing wall at first or is homesick the first week of camp, he or she is building resilience and learning that not everything is always going to go the way you want it to but that is ok.
  6. Make new friends. Children make friends easily at camp. Children share in singing camp songs, traditions and bond while participating in fun camp activities such as tug of war and go-karts.  Campers become part of a camp community where they eat together and at overnight camp, sleep in the same bunk.  Camp also allows children to meet campers from outside of their community.   American Camp Association research found that 96% of campers said that camp helped them make new friends and 93% of campers said camp helped them get to know kids who are different from them.  Children can reinvent themselves at camp.  At home, children go to school with the same children for years and some children may be labeled as the shy or the athletic child.  At day or overnight camp, children are surrounded by new people and they can reinvent themselves.
  7. Gain Confidence. Camp provides children with many opportunities to build confidence. American Camp Association research has found that 92% of campers said that camp helped them feel good about themselves and 70% of parents reported that their child gained self-confidence at camp.  When a child goes under water for the first time or swims across the pool without stopping, he or she gains confidence by accomplishing something they didn’t think they could do.

Read more here: https://achildgrows.com/blog/2017/02/summer-camp/

Color War Girls

As I sit in my room in my Teens ‘16 apparel listening to my Taconic playlist on spotify with my tattlers from the past seven years, rope from Taconic games, and my candle from the last night right next to me I am trying to gather the words that can even come close to answering the question “What does camp mean to you?”, because the answer is everything.

On my first bus ride to camp in 2010 I sat nervously waving goodbye to my parents, confused why I would ever voluntarily sign up for seven weeks away from them with complete strangers. When I stepped off of the bus, that thought completely vanished. I was greeted by dozens of smiling faces while they made a tunnel with their hands above me. I went through the tunnel and on the other side I saw the place that I would become my home for the rest of my life. People that I once referred to as strangers have become more than my best friends, but my family. They are the people who I know will be there for me despite everything, supporting me with an infinite amount of love and compassion. The bond that I share with every camper and counselor and senior staff member is one I have never experienced before, and I am positive I will never experience one the same as it. We are all united by camp and even though I may not personally know everyone, the fact that we share something as special as Taconic, makes me feel an incredibly deep connection with them.

My year predominantly consists of counting down until camp, looking through photos, and watching old memory night videos. Camp is consistently in my thoughts and it defines my childhood, as well as who I am. I was once shy, afraid of standing out in a crowd, dependent on my parents, and I resented new experiences. Camp not only motivated me to become the outgoing person that I am today, but it makes me strive to stand out, be independent, and try new things. In addition to the extraordinary people, the aura of camp is indescribable. At the beginning of the day, the whole camp gathers in the Playhouse for “Sing”. There we sing songs from “One Meatball” to “Fight Song” and the best part is that no one is worried about what other people think of them. Honestly, if you aren’t screaming and jumping during “Bohemian Rhapsody” I would be concerned for you. Even at night, that same enthusiasm experienced in the morning has not died down. Every activity is done with such energy that it makes the environment lively and electrified at all times.

Camp has done more than just teach me that it’s okay to embrace who you are, but it has given me opportunities to do things I would never do at home. This year, I tried pioneering. As someone who had never even lit a match in my life, it was incredibly new. Although in the end I was terrible starting a fire, some of my best memories at camp are from pioneering and I am beyond happy that I was able to try something new. Rather than being judged for it, I was accepted and even got some of my friends into it. Camp provides everyone with easy access to new things. All of the activities that camp has to offer gives every camper freedom to try something they have not done before whether that’s the trapeze, waterskiing, or even pioneering.

I am more than grateful for the people I have met, the memories I have made, and the character I have developed because of camp. For a few short weeks every year, I get to go home to my real family. Camp Taconic has given me the confidence to be comfortable with who I am and to go after what I want. I am extremely lucky to have been a camper at Taconic and I am more than excited to see what the future of being an LIT and (hopefully) a counselor has to offer. The Camp Taconic motto is “Catch the magic” and I can confidently say that I have caught the magic.

 

-Sarah Harris

Teens 16

Camp Taconic GirlsThe weeks leading up to camp are a busy and exciting time for families. Kids are finishing school, – busy with sports and activities. As camp gets closer, your children will start thinking more about camp, especially as they start the fun task of packing! Whether it’s your child’s 1st year or 7th year, it is perfectly normal for kids to get the camp butterflies about leaving home.

Below are some helpful hints that may help you and your child to get ready for camp!

The Camp Taconic website is filled with valuable resources! You and your child can view the videos, do the “Virtual tour” to get comfortable with the location of the buildings. You can review the daily routine with them, and see examples of the fun variety of activities they will be doing!

Pick some small items they can bring to camp – a favorite stuffed animal or doll (Boys, too!). Pictures of family and pets can also be included in their duffle. Also, make letter writing fun and easy – choose fun stationery and pens/pencils and provide labels with addresses so your camper doesn’t have to address envelopes. Make communicating easy!

If your child is feeling worried or anxious, you can discuss what their concerns are and come up with solutions in advance. You may also want to give your child hypothetical situations that may come up.

You can role pay with your child and say – What do you think will happen if you wake up before your counselors or bunkmates? What will you do if you wake up in the middle of the night and need to use the bathroom? Who can you talk to if you are missing home?

Let them know that their bunk counselors are there to help them, and they are trained and experienced on how to talk to and support kids that may be missing home! Remind your children, that no matter where they are, some days are better than others, and camp is no exception!

One of the most important things not to tell your child is that if they feel homesick they can come home. Campers need to know that they will feel sad at some point and that counselors are there to help them. One of the most important parts of the summer camp experience is building independence and you want to let your kids know that you have the confidence in them that they will have a fun and rewarding summer at camp even if there are obstacles along the way.

If you as a parent are feeling nervous or sad about them leaving, it’s normal! Please try and restrain yourself from sharing your feelings with your kids, as they will look to you on how to act!! When writing letters, try not to focus on how much you miss them, or even all the fun things that you are doing at home without them! Don’t be surprised if you don’t get much information back from your campers, as they often are too busy having fun!!

As always, we at Camp Taconic are here to support your children and you. If you have any questions, or would like to chat with a Director, please do not hesitate to contact us! There is never a question too silly!!!