Author Archives: Alison Moeschberger

Countdown to Camp: 5 Things to Do Now!

By Audrey “Sunshine” Monke, Camp Director.
School is ending and camp is right around the corner. Do you know where your packing list is?

I suspected as much.

In addition to being a camp director, I’m also an experienced camp parent, having sent my kids both to GAC and several other camps. So I am well aware of that “where did I put that camp handbook?” feeling.

My sons are both going to camp this summer, so I, too, am now in all-out alert mode to get them ready. In the past, I may have waited a tad too long on a few items, so I thought I’d share some advice before I get in gear and get them prepared!

Here are some tips to keep chaos at a minimum during camp preparations for your child:

#1 Order clothing labels today!

I really like these labels (and they are the ones we sent you) because you DON’T EVEN HAVE TO IRON THEM! Seriously, when I was getting my older kids ready for camp 15 years ago, we didn’t have such conveniences. Now, it’s super easy to have my kids label all those socks and undies on their own!

#2 Fill out your forms.

Keep Calm and Fill Out Your Camp FormsThe forms we require you to complete are your primary way to communicate your child’s information and any special considerations or needs to the staff who will be caring for your child at camp. If you stick those forms in your child’s luggage as they depart (YOU WOULD NEVER DO THAT, RIGHT?), the staff may not have vital information about your child. Allergy lists for the kitchen, special activity requests, etc., are all made available before campers arrive. We need the forms 30 days before their session begins so that we can get the correct information to the appropriate staff. 

Late forms are not okay. Fill them out. (As a related aside, I thought I could call our pediatrician at the end of April and schedule my son for a physical in May, but that was not the case. I had to send an apologetic email to camp explaining that his appointment is four days before the session starts. This is embarrassing for a 31-year veteran camp director!) 

#3 Look at the packing list.

Sweat pants? Those can be hard to find in stores this time of year, and if your kids are like mine, last winter’sPacking List are way too small. You’ll have to order them online. I know Amazon is fast, but if you’re looking at the packing list the night before camp, even Amazon can’t get the sweatpants to you in time. Check out the list. See what your camper needs. Get it now rather than risking a panic attack at 11:45pm the night before camp.

#4 Plan for some down time.

When I hear about the schedules some of our campers have before and after camp—with not a minute to rest Calendarbefore or recuperate after—I worry. Remember our childhood summer days? A whole lot of nothing, most every day, so that by September school was actually sounding pretty good? Today’s kids have summer school, sports camp, junior lifeguards, test prep, sports practices, band camp, family vacation (need I go on?). Please schedule some time for rest and reflection after camp. The experience is so profound it needs to be savored, not wedged in between everything else.

#5 Figure out how to work our camp online system.

As soon as your camper arrives at camp, you’ll want grandparents to know how to send emails, and you’ll be anxious to see photos. Practice now so that on the first day of camp, you’re not fumbling around online. 

There you have it—just a few tips to get you ahead of the curve on camp preparations. Trust me on these. I have been there a few times, and I know that ironing labels past midnight before an early camp departure is not a fun experience.

Audrey “Sunshine” Monke, Director of Gold Arrow Camp for the past 31 years, writes about camp, parenting, and happiness at her website, Sunshine Parenting. You can also follow Sunshine on Facebook, InstagramTwitter, or Pinterest for links to other articles and ideas about camp and parenting. 

Resources/Related:
Summer Camp (lots of Sunshine Parenting resources to help you prepare for camp!)

Camp Supplies (there are TONS of other places to get camp gear):
Everything Summer Camp (trunks, duffels, other camp gear)
Label Daddy (no iron clothing labels)
Gruvy Wear (UV protective swim wear)
REI
LL Bean

Originally posted in Sunshine Parenting.  

Why I Send My Kids to Camp: It Grows Their Grit

“The true test of a champion is not whether he can triumph, but whether he can overcome obstacles.”
– Garth Stein

Written by Christine Carter, Ph.D.

What quality does the Buddha share with Luke Skywalker and Joan of Arc? What links Harriet Tubman with Harry Potter? What does your camper have in common with Michael Jordan?

It has nothing to do with enlightenment or magic. It has to do with struggle. These heroes share a key quality: GRIT.

What is grit?

I think the best way to describe it is by starting with Joseph Campbell and his classic analysis of the “hero’s journey.” Campbell explains how the journey always begins when the hero leaves home and all that is familiar and predictable. After that, Campbell writes, “Dragons have now to be slain and surprising barriers passed—again, again, and again. Meanwhile there will be a multitude of preliminary victories, unretainable ecstasies and momentary glimpses of the wonderful land.”

Kinda sounds like summer camp to me.

It is grit that makes our heroes (campers) face down their dragons and persist in the face of difficulty, setbacks, failure, and fear. They fall down and get back up again. They try their hardest, only to fail. But instead of giving up, they try again and again and again.

It isn’t just historical or fictional heroes who need to be gritty to rise to the top. Recent psychological research has found that grit is one of the best predictors of elite performance, whether in the classroom or in the workforce. Defined by researchers as “perseverance and passion for long-term goals,” grit gives kids the strength to cope with a run-of-the-mill bad day (or week or season) as well as with trauma or crisis.

It turns out that grit predicts performance better than IQ or innate talent. Grit makes our kids productive and successful because it allows them to reach their long-term goals despite life’s inevitable setbacks. This ability to overcome challenges makes them stronger and more masterful at their tasks. Moreover, the ability to cope with difficulty—to be resilient—paves the way for their long-term happiness.

Grit is not really a personality trait as much as it is a facet of a person’s character that is developed like any other skill. Babies are not born with grit any more than they are born with the ability to speak their mother’s native language. We humans develop grit by encountering difficulty and learning to cope with it.

And with that in mind, here’s some perverse “good” news: No life is free from challenges or difficulties. In other words, all of our kids will have plenty of opportunities to develop grit. Out of their setbacks and failures grow the roots of success and happiness. Grandmaster chess players, great athletes, scientific geniuses, and celebrated artists learn, in part, by losing, making mistakes, and failing. Consider this quote from Michael Jordan (who, incidentally, was cut from his high school basketball team):

I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty six times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.

The even better news is that most kids have the capacity to develop grit, and I believe summer camp is the best place for them to do it. Camp exposes kids to what I think of as “safe difficulties”–real physical, social, and emotional challenges for them to overcome. They will sometimes fall off the rock, or struggle to kneeboard. They may have a hard time leaving home, or have a hard time making friends. They will also have a ton of old-fashioned fun, make deep friendships, feel great gratitude for their families, experience the exhilaration of collective joy, learn new skills and develop new talents.

The benefit, to me, is this combination of sheer joy and great difficulty that camp exposes kids to. For most kids, camp is an experience that is at times hard and uncomfortable, but that they remember most for all the times it was easy and joyful.

Despite the discomfort they may feel at times, kids experience camp positively for three reasons:

First, they learn at camp that it isn’t so bad to make a mistake, and that a difficult situation is just a difficult situation, a problem to be solved or an opportunity for improvement. At home and at school, kids typically fear making mistakes and so hide their failures, and this prevents them from truly learning anything from them.

Second, at camp kids learn that they have the ability to cope with difficult feelings and situations themselves. At home, we well-meaning parents are usually around to help solve problems and salve emotional pain. At camp, kids gain a more powerful sense of themselves when they develop the skills they need to deal with difficulty without their parents, and these skills transfer to life outside of camp.

Finally, kids learn that no one is entitled to a life free from difficulty. Camp is a great equalizer, providing challenges for all kids. Camp lets them all star in their own hero’s journey. Instead of letting them give up and go home when the going gets rough, it gives them the opportunity to experience what it is like to dig in.

Camp gives kids the opportunity to see difficulty not just as an inconvenience or injustice, but as a chance for what Campbell calls a “boon,” or dramatic win in the hero’s journey. This gives kids new perspective on life’s challenges—and new strength to deal with them.

There are drawbacks to the hero’s journey, of course. Our kids don’t come home from camp the same: Once they’ve faced down a particularly difficult challenge, they typically have grown so much we might hardly recognize them. But the advantages to developing grit are great, and the “boon” is always worthwhile.

Carter

Christine Carter, Ph.D., is a parent coach and the author of RAISING HAPPINESS: 10 Simple Steps for More Joyful Kids and Happier Parents and The Sweet Spot: How to Find Your Groove at Home and Work She coaches and teaches online classes in order to help parents bring more joy into their own lives and the lives of their children, and she writes an award-winning blog for parents and couples. She is also a sociologist and happiness expert at UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center. Sign up for her short weekly Happiness Tips at www.christinecarter.com.

 

Every Kid in a Park

All of our 4th grade campers recently received a special envelope in the mail from GAC. As part of the National Park Foundation’s Open OutDoors for Kids program, the White House and Federal Land Management agencies partnered together to launch the Every Kid in a Park initiative.

With shrinking school funding for field trips, this program seeks to remove the barriers for kids to access our nation’s public lands and waters. Every 4th grade student in the country is eligible to receive a pass that allows for free access to experience federal lands and waters during the 2017-2018 school year. As educators and advocates for the outdoors, Gold Arrow Camp obtained passes for all of our 4th grade campers and mailed them at the end of September.

We hope that all of our camp families will utilize public lands, and we think this free pass is a great way to start that conversation in our camp community! We would love to see pictures of our GAC campers and families spending time together outdoors. Send us a picture to feature on our website and social media!

Did you know that Gold Arrow Camp is located near three great National Parks? Any camp family planning to drop off or pick up campers from camp this summer can plan a detour through one of these stunning national treasures.

We hope you’ll make it a priority for your family to enjoy the outdoors together!

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Learn more about Yosemite National Park, Sequoia National Park, and Kings Canyon National Park.

Working at Gold Arrow Camp

Providing campers with a quality camp program means having a highly skilled staff who bring with them their warmth and enthusiasm for working with children. We are looking for a diverse staff who G-7110share the common goal of providing the best camp experience possible to the children we serve. Because of the intensity of the work, the long hours, and the stress created by being fully responsible for a group of children, working at camp is not for everyone. Being a counselor at Gold Arrow Camp can be extremely rewarding as well as challenging.

Approximately 220 dedicated people make up the counseling, administrative, and support staff of Gold Arrow Camp. Our staff members’ enthusiasm, dedication and interest in child development CabinTheme-0285are the key to positive experiences for each camper. Counselors are selected based on the ability to serve as outstanding role models and leaders. All staff members must have completed one year of college or post-high school work experience and be at least 18 years of age prior to the first day of work. They must have exceptional communication skills, be dedicated to providing children with a memorable and fun camp experience, and support Gold Arrow Camp’s overall philosophy and goals.

Staff are recruited from all over the United States and from Europe, Asia, New Zealand, and Australia. Our diverse staff, like our campers, add a unique flavor to the camp community. The entire staff works together toward their final goal of providing a positive, fun, and nurturing camp experience for each child.

For more information about applying to work at camp this summer, visit our Prospective Staff page.

We're Hiring!

Meet Our Staff: Kettle

I-8363Kettle is returning to Gold Arrow Camp for her second year as a Group Counselor this summer! She is an engaging, positive, fun counselor, and we’re excited to welcome her back to camp soon!

Kettle is from Gaithersburg, Maryland, and she is attending the University of Maryland where she is studying Kinesiology with a certificate in Public Health. She currently volunteers for the Children’s Development Clinic, is a campus tour guide, and interns for the TerpAccess Disability Network, an organization that provides services and trainings to make the campus more accessible.

Kettle is a positive, passionate, kind, funny person who spent last summer caring for our youngest campers. Her campers describe her as fun, energetic, encouraging, and silly – a few campers even made comments like “she made me laugh really hard,” “when I was scared, she encouraged me,” and “she inspires me.” Kettle will always be the first to hop up and start dancing, no matter the time of day or camp activity, which is one of the reasons both campers and counselors love being around Kettle’s bright, fun personality.

We asked Kettle some questions about camp and other things – see what she had to say!

  1. What do you like most about camp?

    I love how camp brings out people’s goofy side! Where else can you scream good morning to all your neighbors, dance your way through a salad bar line, and cover yourself in mud on a regular basis?
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  2. Why did you want to return to camp this summer?

    Apart from the beautiful location, awesome staff, and fun activities, the main reason I wanted to return to camp was because of the campers. I can’t wait to catch up with my old campers and meet my new cabin groups!

  3. If you were an animal, what animal would you be and why?

    I would be a sea otter so I could splash around with my friends and float on my back all day!

  4. If you could eat ice cream anywhere in the world, what type of ice cream would it be and where?

    I would eat vanilla ice cream with tons of fun toppings (including lots and lots of caramel) while on a hot air balloon safari over Africa with friends.

  5. What is your favorite joke?

    What is a chip’s favorite dance move? The dip!

  6. What is your favorite camp memory?

    Some of my fondest camp memories are the looks on campers’ faces when they get up on knee/ski/wake for the first time and the whole cabin goes crazy in the boat!

  7. If you were a breakfast food, what breakfast food would you be? Why?

    I think I would be a waffle! Waffles are homey, supportive (perfect if you want to build a castle out of your breakfast), and they brighten people’s day when they are served at camp!

  8. What are you most excited about this summer?

    I am most excited to spend my summer surrounded by amazing people in a place that I love! I am eager to continue to learn from others and to build incredible relationships while being disconnected from technology. And of course for all of the Bear Trap fun! And Pajama Breakfast! And pickles at Carnival! And Shaver! The list of things I am excited for could go on forever.

Want to meet more 2016 GAC Staff? Head over to the Meet Our Staff page!

Meet Our Staff: Bambino!

Bambino1Bambino, a Group Counselor, is joining us for his second season at GAC!

Bambino is originally from Modesto, California, and he is currently finishing his final year at California State University, Fresno. He is studying Political Science and Sports Coaching. Bambino is involved in intramural sports and works as a referee for youth sports programs. In his free time, Bambino enjoys playing sports, running, and trips to the beach and the mountains. This fall, Bambino will be starting the Sports Psychology Masters program at Fresno State. He wants to pursue a career in coaching and teaching young people.

We love Bambino’s energetic, outgoing personality.  His campers describe him as fun, encouraging, motivational, and optimistic. One camper said, “he helped me get over my fear of heights that I’ve had my whole life.” Bambino always has a bright smile on his face. You can usually find him in the middle of all the action, ready and excited for any activity. Bambino’s cabin will most likely be the first onstage dancing before Morning Assembly or Big Campfire.

We asked Bambino some questions about camp and other things – see what he has to say!

  1. Why did you choose to return to GAC for a second summer?Bambino 4

    The biggest reason I want to go back to camp is the quality of relationships I formed last summer with campers and counselors, and I want to build new relationships and strengthen old ones again this summer. I want to focus on campers and staff, to make sure that everyone is having the best experience they can. There’s a lot of room to grow at camp, and camp helps you become the best person you can be. This summer I’m looking forward to working on myself to become a better leader, counselor, and friend.

  2. What is your favorite part of camp?

    Shaver! My favorite part of camp is when my cabin goes to Shaver. It’s a great break from camp, away from any outside distractions, and we spend a lot of time bonding with each other. At Shaver, campers and counselors are learning how to be good people, how to build REALationships; it’s a crucial part of the camp experience.
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  3. If you were an animal, what animal would you be and why?

    I would be an elephant because I’m strong, intelligent, loyal to the group, and when I’m in the mindset, I’m ready to achieve any goal I set.

  4. What advice do you have for campers coming to camp for the first time?

    Don’t be afraid to be yourself, or to go out of your comfort zone to try something new. Every experience at camp is a new experience, and you have to be willing to be open and embrace new things to really have the best time at camp.

  5. Describe your perfect pizza.

    You need a good sauce and a good ratio of cheese-to-sauce. I prefer a 2:1 ratio of sauce to cheese. Then throw on all the toppings – the more, the better! Pepperoni, sausage, chicken, bell peppers, mushrooms, basil, and a couple onions. Then the crust. It needs to be really bready with butter and not too crunchy, just right!

  6. What are you most excited for this summer at camp?

    Bambino 3I’m so excited to see all the campers again, seeing old friends and building new relationships. I want to take all the experiences I had last summer and use them to make myself a better counselor. I want to focus a lot on growing as a leader this summer. During campfire, my co-counselor and I would ask questions and listen as our campers gave us really great answers; we had a lot of meaningful conversations at night around the campfire, and I’m looking forward to ending every great day at camp with my cabin around a campfire.

  7. If you could pick any one in the world to host Morning Assembly, who would it be and why?

    John Wooden (former Purdue basketball player and UCLA Bruins Head Coach). He would bring a lot of passion and energy to Morning Assembly, and he would teach campers and counselors life lessons. Just watching him do Morning Assembly would be great for the entire GAC environment because he’s so inspirational!

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Want to meet more 2016 GAC Staff? Head over to the Meet Our Staff page!

Big Campfire Skit Night

Big Campfire is an event on Saturday night, in the middle of each two-week session (and on Thursday night of Mini Camp). The entire camp joins together at the camp amphitheater, which is also called “Big Campfire.”  Each cabin group presents a song, a skit, a poem, an interpretive dance, an unusual skill, a dramatic reading, or anything else creative. This is a great opportunity for campers to show their creativity, and the entire cabin joins along to prepare for the upcoming event. Since the whole group is on the stage, it’s fun and unpredictable sometimes. Big Campfire has been a Gold Arrow Camp tradition since camp’s early days!

Meet Our Staff: Yorkie!

 

Yorkie-9361We’re excited to welcome Yorkie back for his seventh summer at GAC! Yorkie will be the Rock Yorkie-7103Climbing and Ropes Course Director, so you’ll see him rocking around camp all summer long! In his previous summers at camp, Yorkie has been an Activity Counselor and a Head Counselor. By now he definitely knows camp! If you have any questions about camp, Yorkie is the one to ask!

Yorkie is currently working in Pocklington in the United Kingdom, just outside of York, where he is working as a teaching assistant to gain more experience for his role as a teacher in September. Yorkie loves working with people, especially in an outdoor and sporty environment. He also enjoys playing football (we call English football soccer!), traveling the world, hanging out with friends, rock climbing and challenging himself on the high ropes course (of course!). Yorkie is currently coaching a 7th grade soccer (err, football) team, but he can’t wait to be back at camp soon!

We asked Yorkie some very pressing questions. Check out his answers!

What do you like most about camp?

The most incredible thing about Gold Arrow Camp is the people. The campers, the staff, every single person makes Gold Arrow Camp a second home to every person lucky enough to spend their summers there.

What makes you return to camp every summer?

I absolutely love camp, just being out in the outdoors, working with such amazing people and awesome kids! The whole experience is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to leave your comfort zone, and your mobile phone, and have a summer where you can just be yourself.

If you could wake up tomorrow with a superpower, what superpower would you want to have?

If I could have any superpower, I would have the power to travel huge distances in seconds, and visit everyone I’ve ever met at camp! That and the ability to create a summer that never ends!

What is your favorite camp memory?

The first time I saw the sunset at the rock at Valhalla, it took my breath away and made me realize what a special place GAC is.

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If you could eat any ice cream any place in the world, what ice cream and where?

It would have to be Ben and Jerry’s Phish Food at the top of Mushroom Rock, a nearby mountain to camp where you can see for miles!

What advice would you give a camper coming to camp for the first time?

It is okay to be nervous, it would be silly not to be, but just know that all the counselors and the returning campers are there to help, and you will make some of the best friends you’ll ever have at camp.

If you had your own country, what would it be called?

My own country would be called GACtopia, a country where it could be camp every day!

What are you most excited about for GAC 2016??

Every year I’ve been at camp has been better than the last, and I’m simply looking forward to getting back to my home-away-from-home and leaving all the stresses and pressures back in the UK! Also meeting new friends and seeing old friends.

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Want to meet more 2016 GAC Staff? Head over to the Meet Our Staff page!

5 Things

One of our favorite games to play at camp, and one that helps us get to know each other better, is “Five Things.” This game is a lot of fun and would also be a great game to play with your family or friends at home. Here is a video demo of how to play Five Things (which we filmed at GAC’s staff holiday party):

As you can see, it’s a simple game:

1. The person who’s “it” calls out the name of a person and a category. For example, “Cappy!” “Favorite Camp Activities!”

2. Cappy then says one of her favorite activities, and the whole group yells, “1!” At her second activity, the group yells “2!” And this continues until she’s said 5 things.

3. Next, the whole group sings the “Five Things” chorus, which goes: “Five things, five things, five things, five things, FIVE THINGS!”

4. Cappy then picks another person in the group and a category, and the game continues until everyone in the circle has had a chance to list five things.

We hope you enjoy playing Five Things!