Meet our 2018 Staff! Read more about each of this amazing team on our Meet Our Staff Page!
My Favorite Spot on Earth: Gold Arrow Camp By: Sophia L., Five Year Camper There is a place in the sunny Sierra mountains of California. A place where the only noise is laughter, and the air smells of fresh pine. A place where kids are free to play and roam, among the tall forest. This place is called Gold Arrow Camp. As you walk through the wild grass and sit around the campfire, there are no cell phones buzzing, only the quiet hoot of an owl on a chilly summer night. When you head to the dining porch, you cross a muddy path, where you must balance on the wooden logs so you don’t fall in the pebble filled creek lined with multi-colored flowers. While you hop into a canoe, or jump into the refreshing, clean water of the lake, you shiver with cold, and delight. As you walk up […]
We are thrilled to be joining camps across the country in celebrating Camp Kindness Day on July 24, 2018. The day is described by the American Camp Association (ACA) as “opportunity to demonstrate to the world the great work that camps are doing to teach kindness in engaging, simple, repeatable and high impact ways that live on in the daily lives of campers and staff members when they return home.” Camp Kindness and WOW coordinator Cheerio created this “Kindness Calendar” to provide campers and counselors with different ideas for acts of kindness they can do each day this summer whether they’re here at camp or at home! Kindness is a quality we all look for in friends, and we are talking about how doing acts of kindness, encouraging each other, and giving compliments to our friends fits perfectly with our Find a Friend theme this summer. We are excited to be […]
Longtime camp parent Mel Latt talks about why she considers her daughters’ camp experiences over the past decade the best gifts she’s ever given them.
Episode 30. On Episode 30, Soy and Peanut Butter sat down to chat about making friends, GACting, and her love of pesto. There’s also a princess themed Joke of the Cast and Taylor Swift is featured in our GACspiration.
By Camp Director Audrey “Sunshine” Monke There are so many reasons great parents choose to send their kids to summer camp. Several years ago, I shared five of them on the most popular post I’ve ever published. But now I have more to share. Consider this the second installment in a series with others to follow, because the list of ways kids benefit from summer camp is seemingly endless. Since I last wrote about reasons great parents send their kids to camp, I conducted research and found that camp experiences positively impact campers’ happiness and social skills. I’ll begin, then, with happiness. The first reason great parents send their kids to camp is that it helps them BE HAPPIER. “Camp makes me happy and nothing can prepare me for life as well as this environment.” “Come on,” you’re thinking, “How can two weeks in the mountains change my child’s overall […]
Episode 29. On Episode 29 Soy is joined by Slim, who spent several years living in Cabin 29. Soy and Slim talk about sports, Mississippi State, Swag, and how camp helps teach young men to be vulnerable and have authentic conversations. There was powerful stuff in this podcast, and we think you’ll really enjoy it.
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) […]
Episode 28. On Episode 28 long-time camper and current counselor Squirrel joins Soy to talk about how camp changed her life, and why she loves leading backpacking trips in the High Sierra. There’s also a joke that Soy enjoys a little too much and a warm-up for Big Campfire.
by Audrey “Sunshine” Monke, Camp Director Recently, I’ve been going through the many boxes of letters, photos, and memorabilia which I have collected over my first five decades. It’s been a time-consuming task, but I’m trying to organize into a smaller number of boxes what has been accumulated over the first half of my life. What has struck me most is the huge number of letters I amassed from my childhood, high school, and college friends. Until this week, I didn’t remember how much we corresponded, but I just finished going through hundreds of letters. I now have proof of the many friendships that were solidified over hours of writing to one another. I mostly have the ones written to me, but I can assume from the “Thanks for your letter”s that I was writing at the same rate as my friends were. Maybe some of my letters are in […]
By Audrey “Sunshine” Monke, Camp Director Originally published at Sunshine Parenting Because we’re not in the habit of writing letters to our kids much these days – with brief texts being the primary form of written communication between us – it can be challenging to come up with what to write to our campers. This is especially true when you’re writing more letters than you’re receiving, which will most likely be the case, because while your child is busy at camp, you will be at your home or office glued to your computer, looking at photos of the fun they’re having. To keep letters fun and entertaining for your camper, here are some creative ideas: 1. Create a “fill-in-the-blanks” response letter Especially for younger campers (or for kids who think writing is torture), make it easy for them to send you news without having to worry about writer’s block or […]
Episode 27. On Episode 27, Soy and Sterling sit down to talk about puns. They also spend some time talking about the growth mindset and how we can overcome fear. There’s a joke for fans of garnish and a GACspiration from one of our favorite modern philosophers.
By Audrey “Sunshine” Monke, Camp Director Taking risks and trying new things – both of which can feel very uncomfortable – are daily occurrences at GAC. Campers are challenged to get outside their comfort zone, both physically and mentally. And in that “discomfort zone,” growth happens. Physically, we live in tents, without electricity, and sleep in our sleeping bags on sometimes-squeeky, army-style bunks. We hike down a path to get to the bathroom, and we use flashlights to find our PJs. Camp doesn’t have many of the comforts of home, but in our rustic living we discover that we can live – very happily – without the luxuries of our own bathroom and a feather-top mattress! Mentally, we get outside our comfort zone when we try something that we’ve never tried before. Sometimes we have to climb up really high or jump into a lake. We try things that we […]
Episode 26 – Uncle On Episode 26 Uncle drops by the studio (via the Internet) to chat about dealing with fear as a camper, making friends worldwide, and, of course, lip balm. Soy is playing some Country Roads on guitar and there’s a Western themed Joke of the Cast!
It’s a human-interest story that spans nearly 25 years and has at its epicenter the small Dutch city of Woerden, which beyond its city proper is a land of mostly meadows and farms on the banks of the Old Rhine River in central Netherlands. Woerden boasts a population of some 50,000 people, most of whom ride bikes, eat poffertjes (tiny sweet pancakes with butter and sugared icing), and commute by train to jobs in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and The Hague. Woerden has a windmill (“De Windhond”) in the city center and its own castle (the Castle of Woerden, built in 1410 by Duke John the Pitiless). The city has a long and rich history of cheesemaking and trading, with an established international market for its Gouda. In fact, not far from De Windhond in the city center, cheesemakers still sell product in the marketplace, where they have done so since 1885. […]
Episode 25 – On Episode 25 of the Gold Arrow Camp Pogcast, we’re joined by Khaleesi. Khaleesi shares some of her favorite things about being a wrangler as well as how camp has helped her in nursing school. As always, there’s a joke of the cast and Soy is still working on guitar.
By Audrey “Sunshine” Monke, originally published at Sunshine Parenting. I’ve learned to face my fears, I’ve tried new things, and I have learned that you don’t always need to have your phone or video games. -Kimberly, Camper Children between eight and ten years old currently spend nearly eight hours a day on media. Adolescents average nearly eleven hours per day, seven days a week, on screens. The negative impact of this digital lifestyle is evident in kids’ expanding waistlines as well as their growing lack of interest in being outdoors. Now there’s an additional worry about the impact of our kids’ excessive screen use: anxiety. In a recent NY Times article—Why Are More American Teenagers Than Ever Suffering From Severe Anxiety?—Benoit Denizet-Lewis writes, “Anxious kids certainly existed before Instagram, but many of the parents I spoke to worried that their kids’ digital habits—round-the-clock responding to texts, posting to social media, obsessively […]
Episode 24 – Chippy On Episode 24 of the GAC Pogcast, Soy sits down for a chat with Chippy, and they explore the ways that campers can take GAC with them everywhere they go. Also, if you’re tracking Soy’s guitar playing progress, he’s playing a brand new song this week!
By the end of high school, teens need to have mastered more skills than just reading, writing and math to be successful, thriving adults. Gold Arrow Camp’s Outdoor Leadership Course (OLC) helps campers develop important life skills that stretch them far beyond academics: Leadership, Independence, Communication Skills, Resilience, and Responsibility. The OLC is a two-week program for young people interested in developing important life skills. Trained leaders guide OLC participants on a challenging, six-day, 30-mile backpacking trip into the High Sierras. Throughout the session, campers develop backcountry navigational and survival skills, practice wilderness first aid skills, and participate in GAC activities. The purpose of OLC is to challenge teens to learn and grow in self-awareness, develop maturity, discover the value of community and working with others to solve problems and accomplish shared objectives. While growing and learning, participants develop five skills vital for success: Leadership, Independence, Communication Skills, Resilience, and Responsibility. 1. Leadership “Being a part of […]
By Audrey “Sunshine” Monke, Camp Director. Originally published at Sunshine Parenting. While it’s easy to think of ways to teach our kids to do laundry or solve math problems, finding a way to instill important character traits isn’t as simple. The way we model traits we want our children to exhibit has a powerful influence on them, and some traits (kindness, gratitude, and generosity) they learn first and foremost from parents. But there are other traits best learned through experiences outside the home and beyond the watchful (sometimes too watchful) eyes of parents. Camp experiences offer exactly the kind of experience away from home where children grow important character traits like independence, self-confidence, and grit. #1 Independence “Looking back at my life, camp has been the most influential part of it. I can truly say camp is where I developed my independence, gained confidence, and learned what friendship truly means.” -Lizz Being […]
Episode 23. On episode 23 of the Pog-cast, Soy is joined by Lily Garelick, who shares her experience traveling to Tanzania to help provide medical care to those in need. It is a great reminder of how powerful it is to bring positive changes to the world, which is one of our core values. As always, Soy plays some guitar and tells a joke that he really enjoys.
Episode 22. On Episode 22 of the GAC Pog-Cast we settle in for a chat with Smudge. Smudge joined us for the first time in the summer of 2017. She and Soy talked about what they love at camp and the power of saying “yes”.
Making friends has always been one of our most important camp goals. This summer, we’re taking this goal to a whole new level, with a focus on all aspects of the art and practice of finding, making, and keeping friends. We’re focusing on celebrating friendship and connection with our 2018 theme – Find a Friend! Find a Friend Maybe you’re familiar with the popular smartphone app – Find My Friends – which helps you track the physical locations of your family and friends. While the app is extremely helpful to see where people are, it doesn’t help at all with the face-to-face friendship skills we’ll be practicing at GAC this summer: How to FIND like-minded friends who build us up and make us feel great How to meet new people and MAKE new friends How to BE a good friend to others How to stay connected and KEEP close to […]
Episode 21. On Episode 21 of the Gold Arrow Camp Pog-Cast, Soy has his first ever recorded conversation with a soon-to-be astrophysicist, tells a historically themed Joke of the Cast, and plays a GAC-mas Carol on guitar!
One of the things that is special at camp is the way people put effort into recognizing each other’s accomplishments. There are high fives, congratulatory hugs, and many other ways we build each other up. My favorite way we recognize each other is by writing what we call “WOWs”. At camp, we have a giant supply of WOW pads, which are available for both campers and staff to use. A WOW pad is a pad of WOW notes. WOW notes are a simple form. When someone, anyone,does something that you appreciate, you can write them a WOW. On the way into the dining porch, there’s a bulletin board that we have dedicated to posting WOWs. It is such a wonderful feeling for campers to look at the board while they’re heading to a meal and to see a heartfelt note recognizing them! It really makes your day to see […]
Episode 20. On the 20th episode of the not-yet-critically-acclaimed POG-Cast, Soy is joined by veteran boat driver and all around wonderful human being Kronk. They chat about why campfires are so wonderful and share a love of artichoke hearts. There’s also a Joke of the Cast and Soy’s performance debut on guitar.
“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 […]
Ep. 19 On this episode of the Pog-cast, Soy is joined by Rugger for a lively conversation about Rocks & Ropes, fear, and the value of wearing a watch. There’s also a special guest for the joke of the ‘cast!
Ep. 18 We’re back for season 2 of the GAC Pog-cast! On Episode 18 of the GAC Pog, Soy is joined by Lyric, who has spent almost a decade at GAC, first as a camper, then a CIT, then a JC, and finally as a counselor. There’s also a Joke of the Cast and a GACspiration to start your week off right.
One of our many fun traditions at GAC is our camp dance. On the Thursday before each two-week session ends (and the final evening of our one-week sessions), all campers and staff attend a themed dance. Dances are a great way for us to celebrate the conclusion of a fun-filled session. Excitement for the dance builds throughout the session, and we practice dancing regularly, including before our daily Morning Assembly and even at some meals. On the day of the dance, as soon as dinner ends, campers head back to their cabins to get ready. They, and their counselors, put on their costumes in anticipation of the fun night to come. Costumes and props are either brought from home or made at camp. Some people go bargain hunting at the thrift store or at after-Halloween sales to find treasures that fit with their session’s dance theme. Counselors really get into finding ways to interpret the theme. Once everyone […]
By Andy “Soy” Moeschberger In all probability the educationist of the year 2000 AD will look back upon us and wonder why we, the school people of 1938, failed to include the camp as an integral unit of our educational system. – The Kappan Magazine, the official magazine of Phi Delta Kappa – 1938 If you ever have the opportunity to visit us at camp, you’ll have the opportunity to sing the GAC Song. While many people love the “wadda-ing” that takes place in the chorus, my favorite part comes in the final verse. We sing, “I sure did learn much more here than I ever did at school.” My love of this line comes from my teaching before I came to work for Gold Arrow full time; I was a high school social science teacher for 14 years. It may seem odd that a teacher would love a line […]
Written by Audrey “Sunshine” Monke Campers often describe camp as their “happy place” or “the best two weeks” of their year. And, from my own observation, I’ve seen that kids and the counselors who work with them are obviously happy at camp. They smile a lot. They look relaxed. There’s a lot of laughter. So many fun things happen at camp every day that it’s no surprise it’s such a happy place for kids. Recently I’ve read several books about the science behind happiness and the research that’s being done to determine the specific elements that cause people to “flourish” in life. (See my reading list below.) Traditionally, psychologists have focused on studying psychological diseases – depression, anxiety, eating disorders, etc. – and their cures. But led by Martin Seligman (University of Pennsylvania), a new breed of psychologists called Positive Psychologists have, for the past decade, been studying the positive […]
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 […]
In 2009, Gold Arrow Camp lost a dear friend. Ken “Coach” Baker (March 10, 1951 – April 5, 2009) worked at GAC as Camp Assistant Director and Director from 1981-1992 and had a huge, positive impact on many of us who are still here at camp today. Ken was instrumental in helping Sunshine purchase Gold Arrow from Jeanie Vezie in 1989, and mentored Sunshine, Monkey, Woody, Chelster, Tigger, Junior, Trapper, and many other GAC staff during their early years working at camp. Ken had an amazing way of making even mundane tasks like picking up trash and painting buildings feel monumentally important. He had a way of clapping his hands together and giving a pep talk that got everyone fired up to do their jobs well. Ken had a near-constant smile on his face and took every challenge that came his way in stride. We all knew we could go […]
Following is an excerpt from Sierra Summers: The History of Gold Arrow Camp (publish date: November, 2017). BOOK ORDERING INFORMATION […] In the meantime, Jeanie was hatching a much bigger change in her mind, one that she’d broached only briefly with Manny in casual conversation. “Wouldn’t it be interesting to try having girls at Gold Arrow?” she’d suggest, a prompt Manny would often shrug off as nonsense and “out of the question.” Gold Arrow was, after all, the last of the rugged camps for boys. “It was definitely appropriately named,” said Jeanie. “It was for boys only.” In those days, wrote Jeanie, “Manny liked the role of Frontiersman. He wore buckskin clothes, moccasins, and had a real Indian chant wakeup and goodnight. He liked the idea of the outdoor toilets, no electricity except where positively necessary, and certainly very little plumbing and no telephone.” But the question of having girls […]
Gold Arrow first introduced the Nature program in the summer of 2016, but this summer, we’ve taken the program to a new level, focusing on specific goals in order to help campers learn the most and make the most of their nature experience. Some of the goals of the new nature program have been to get kids to appreciate more simple ways of life, to get kids to have fun with and be more aware of their surroundings, and to help kids develop a moral concern for the environment. In order to achieve these goals, Nature counselor Yogi designed activities for kids to participate in that center around observation, identification, and connection. A few activities used to help kids in their observation skills have been the “Hundred Inch Hike,” where campers use rulers and magnifying glasses to slow down and look for new things in such a small space. Another […]
For the past three summers, we’ve celebrated our graduating campers – campers who are coming to camp for their final summer – with a special ceremony held after the dance each session. All campers entering their sophomore year of high school are invited, in addition to all of their counselors from that session. While all the campers sit around a campfire, the group counselors say a few words about each of their graduating campers, including specific strengths they’ve seen and how they’ve watched each camper grow over the course of the session or their entire time at GAC. After these words are shared, campers receive a paddle with their name engraved on it, as well as a Sharpie so that campers can write notes and sign one anothers’ paddles. Campers then have the opportunity to share how they’ve grown because of camp. While it is optional to share, many campers […]
At the end of Session 2, we said goodbye to Tigger for the summer. Tigger has worked at GAC for thirty years, and we honored her at Appreciation Campfire with a gold arrow necklace. Tigger has brought so much insight and wisdom to camp due to her extensive experience working in education as a special education teacher. Hundreds of homesick campers over the years have had “Tigger Talks” full of encouragement and perspective, and several counselors mentioned the help that Tigger provided them with when they were campers. Tigger wrote a poem and shared it with camp after being honored for her many years of service at GAC: As I look back on my last 30 years I’ve shared many smiles and shed a few tears My first days as a counselor a long time ago I saw joy and wonder and it started to grow I knew shortly after […]
Every so often, parents take the time to write us a thank you note. This one, from a long-time camper family, meant a lot to us. Thank you, Harris Family, for taking the time to let us know what GAC means to you! We appreciate your kind words! Dear Gold Arrow Counselors and Staff – As we approach the end of our five weeks of empty household, and realize that our children are approaching the end of another wonderful GAC summer experience, we would like to take a moment of your summer to express our thanks for all that you do to make Gold Arrow Camp so special. We hear the sense of building anticipation in our kids’ voices for about 10 months of the year. They look forward to so much about GAC: the friends, the fresh air, the scenery, the activities, the food and the escape. The end […]
We’ve added a new activity this summer: giant paddle boarding! Though we still have our super fun regular-sized paddle boards that can fit one or two campers, we’ve also been enjoying our giant-sized boards, too. They can fit an entire cabin and can also be used as floating slip-n-slides. Many campers enjoy trying to push their counselors off the board or performing an entire song (complete with dance moves) without falling into the water. These giant paddle boards have been especially fun for our younger campers, who can work together to paddle through the water rather than being on individual boards. Whether we’re having a dance party or a swim party, the giant paddle boards have been a hit!
Back before cell phones, televisions, and computers began taking up most of our free time, books were in large part our source of entertainment. They were read aloud and read individually. Our minds were swept away to other places where we could imagine what characters and places looked like for ourselves rather than watching stories take place on screens. Our imaginations were exercised and our capacity to be empathetic toward others grew as we saw stories through a variety of different perspectives. Lately, for kids it seems as though reading has largely been associated with something they have to do rather than something they want to do. Reading has often become associated with schoolwork, and technology with fun and free time. However, many bookworms still reside at Gold Arrow, campers and counselors alike, and we’ve decided to embrace and encourage the love for reading that is still alive for many […]
By Audrey “Sunshine” Monke, Camp Director In addition to keeping campers safe and healthy, forming close connections with our campers is our counselors’ most important job. I’ve written extensively about our Connection Before Connection philosophy and about how forming REALationships with campers is the most important thing great counselors do. As parents, I believe connecting with our kids is equally important. I’ve compiled a list from some of my favorite resources about ways to foster close connections with our kids – and everyone else we care about. 1. Acknowledge feelings 2. Empathize 3. Make people feel seen, heard, and valued. 4. Hug often. 5. Play together. 6. Give your full attention 7. Daily debrief 8. Smile 9. Use screens to foster connections. 10. Be you 11. Daily rest and reflection READ MORE AT SUNSHINE PARENTING.
By Gretchen “Gem” Monke, Horseback Riding Director Yeehaw from Gold Arrow Camp! Our fun and hands-on horse program offers campers the opportunity to care for our horses, learn horseback riding basics, and participate in breathtaking lakeside trail rides. The horse program begins each day before breakfast with Early Morning Muck and Feed. Campers sign up to help the wranglers feed our ten horses and muck the stalls. Many campers sign up frequently to visit their favorite four-legged friends before scheduled activities. After breakfast and lunch, campers are scheduled to come to horses with their cabins. Our goal is to give all of our campers a comprehensive introduction to horseback riding. Our wranglers strive to give campers a positive horse experience that includes lassoing, painting, grooming, and a trail ride! At the end of every session, campers help the wranglers feed the horses lunch or dinner. In addition, our wranglers give […]
Eight-year-camper Kate Scibelli is off on a new adventure in Tanzania this summer. Kate is participating in a Rustic Pathways sponsored African immersion program, and her mom claims that the “resilience, independence, empathy, confidence, and courage” that Kate needed for this trip came from her summers at Gold Arrow Camp. Kate’s program leader is already noting the “positive energy, curiosity, and commitment” that Kate’s group has brought to the program. The group’s main project is building a school dining hall and community center for Njoro village, but Kate has also had the opportunity to work with children during an education exchange where she teaches kids about teamwork and communication. On top of service work, Kate has also had the opportunity to design her own clothes to be made by the village tailor, cook local foods, and ride through a national park full of wild animals! We are so excited for […]
At camp, we like to appreciate the small moments in our day. In the sunny Sierras, there’s so much to be thankful for, from sunsets through the pines to crackling campfires. However, just how some people prefer mornings and others prefer night, camp people have their favorite times of day, too. Everyone has a moment of the day that simply surpasses all others. We asked our 2017 Leadership Team to share about their favorite times of day at camp. Punkie: Campfire time! Gem: Sunrise, breakfast, and morning activities! Goldie: The end of each meal, three times a day. I love seeing full bellies and happy faces. It’s thrilling when all the hard work of the team pays off. Tica: I love the morning and breakfast time because there is so much anticipation for each new day. Sterling: Campfire time – it’s calm and relaxing, full of real conversations, and a perfect time to reflect on the great day […]
For years, counselors have read chapter books to their campers before bed. Who doesn’t enjoy a good story before falling asleep at the end of a busy day? This year, some of our book-loving/hoarding staff members decided to step up GAC’s reading game. Inspired by the many mini libraries that have popped up around the country, where anyone can pick up and drop off books at no cost, we’ve decided to create our own “Little GAC Library” that will be located in Chipmunk, an easily accessible location for all campers. GAC will be stocking the library with kid-friendly books, and we hope that campers will be encouraged to take books that sound interesting to them as well as leave books that they’ve already finished reading. We hope the Little GAC Library will encourage campers to read for fun, appreciating and enjoying the stories, rather than associating reading solely with homework. We […]
Head Counselors provide leadership and support for our counselors and campers and make sure each camper is having a fantastic experience at GAC. Each Head Counselor has five to seven cabin groups with whom they work closely. On the first evening of camp, Head Counselors stop by each of their cabin groups’ campfires to introduce themselves and let campers know that they are someone campers can always go to if they need anything. Throughout the session, Head Counselors join their cabin groups for meals, activities, and campfires. They also get feedback from campers on evaluations and follow up with campers to make sure they have the best experience possible at GAC. Our 2017 team of Head Counselors includes an experienced group who bring 49 summers of GAC experience with them to camp. Three of them (Mocha, Punkie, and Wonder) started as campers here at camp! Because of all their years of […]
Ep. 17 On Episode 17 of the GAC Pog-cast, Soy is joined by longtime GAC staffer Delta. He and Delta chat about what she’s doing while she’s not at camp, how she brings camp into her classroom and what keeps Delta coming back to camp. Of course, there’s a Joke of the Cast (it features a wedding in space!) and the inspiring words of Roald Dahl in a GACspiration.
Episode 16 On episode 16 of the GAC Pog-Cast, Sunshine talks with long-time camper and Junior Counselor Henry Yeary. Henry has some great insights into what makes the Junior Counselor (JC) program good for teens, as well as thoughts about taking a gap year before college and why he lives the flip phone life. Soy drops in with a joke of the cast that vampires will enjoy as well as a GACspiration from John Muir.
Episode 15 . On episode 15 of the Gold Arrow Camp Pog-Cast, Soy is joined by head counselor, morning assembly MC, and disc golf living legend Swag. They talk about vulnerability, Swag’s favorite activity, and Swag’s favorite salad bar item. (It rhymes with “smacon”). Of course, there’s a joke of the ‘cast as well as a GACspiration. If you’d like to make a submission of a poem or a wow for the Pog-Cast, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to hear from you!
Episode 14. On this episode, Soy is joined by veteran camper Joss McGrath, who shares her thoughts on food at camp, what to pack, her favorite activities and favorite counselor. She also has advice about being homesick and making friends at camp. Soy plays guitar and has the Joke of the Cast and Sunshine delivers a GACspiration.
Epiosde 13 of the Pog-cast On Episode 13, Soy talks with Nash about ultimate frisbee, staying positive on the trail, and experiencing the Perseid meteor shower in the wilderness. There’s also a magical joke of the cast, WOWs, and a GACspiration. As always, you can submit WOWs to email@example.com.
Episode 12. On Episode 12, Soy is joined by Bambino, and they talk about the theme for 2017, Hop on the Energy Bus. Bambino is the man who brought the Energy Bus to camp in the first place, and he shares about his experience sharing the book with 13 and 14 year old boys. There’s also a Joke of the Cast, TSwift, and Soy reads WOWs and a haiku. As always, you can send suggestions or WOWs to firstname.lastname@example.org
By Audrey “Sunshine” Monke. “You’re sending Chase to camp for TWO WEEKS?” Shock is a common response parents get when discussing sending their child to sleep-away camp. They often face criticism for allowing their young child out from under their direct supervision. In this over-involved parenting age, the thought of allowing an eight year old to go away to camp for two weeks is incomprehensible to many parents. What “non-camp” parents don’t understand is that allowing your child to have a camp experience is a gift that has positive, life-long benefits beyond learning how to sail or rock climb. Camp parents aren’t bad parents who “send their children away.” They are parents who see the value in letting their children have an experience that enriches their childhood. Parents who went to traditional summer camps as children themselves are more likely to send their children to camp compared to other parents. Many […]
Episode 11. On this episode of the Gold Arrow Camp Pog-cast, Soy talks camp and family with Tootles and Batman, long time campers, current staff members, and life-long sisters. They discuss why camp feels so much like family, what it’s like to work with your sister, and how hard it is to remember each other’s camp names.
Every year on February 1st, we celebrate one of our favorite holidays, I Heart Camp Day. Campers and staff join us in this online celebration of camp by taking pictures and tagging us and #IHeartCampDay. These are some of our favorite submissions from 2017. For a full gallery, you can check out the photo gallery in the news section of our website. Camper Poetry For I Heart Camp Day Former camper Erin P. sent us this poem that she composed at school when she was asked to compose a poem about something she missed and loved. Slept Away Erin P. Gold Arrow Camp; The Home where everyone’s a champ. The place I miss dearly, because I used to go yearly. Smiles, friendship, and memories, are all objects of treasury. My cabin mates lead me towards that way, so I could experience more everyday. On my last night, I felt as if […]
Episode 10 – Manners On this episode of the not-yet-critically acclaimed GAC Pog-cast, Soy is joined by Manners. Manners has some great insights into why camp is so good at developing independence. He also shares how camp helps him get through the school year.
By Dr. Jim “Bones” Sears For two weeks each summer I work as the camp doctor at Gold Arrow Camp. 2017 will be my 13th summer at GAC and I look forward to it every year. My kids attend as campers, and they have a blast! I’m always amazed at how good I feel after two weeks up in the mountains! For one thing, I’m always moving. Each morning, I get up a bit early and go for a 30-minute hike. this really gets the heart pumping and is a great way to start the day! The rest of the day, I’m walking all over camp with all the campers going from activity to activity. Sometimes I take an extra trip from the lake up to the nurses’s building to take care of a bump or a bruise, but the whole day everyone is moving. When I get back home it […]
We’re thrilled to announce that we’re partnering with The Energy Bus Leadership Journey for Schools to bring The Energy Bus to GAC 2017! As the pilot camp to join the program, we’ll be working closely with the staff of the Jon Gordon companies to develop fun ways to present The Energy Bus ideas to our campers. We believe that many schools and camps would benefit from getting both their staff and campers to live out the positive ideals of The Energy Bus, and we’re excited to be on this bus! Our journey with The Energy Bus began during the summer of 2016 when counselor Tyler “Bambino” Munoz shared Jon Gordon’s best-selling book The Energy Bus with the young men of cabin 28 by reading it aloud over each session. At the conclusion of each session, he invited his campers to join him on The Energy Bus by giving them a printed bus ticket. To read Bambino’s […]
Episode 9 On Episode 9 of the Pog-Cast, Soy is joined by Honey to talk about making a positive change in the world. They also discuss her engagement to Blondie, which took place at camp. There are two camper submitted haikus, a Ross Jameson Joke of the Cast and Sunshine reading a special GACspiration for UCLA fans.
by Audrey “Sunshine” Monke Wendy Mogel’s best selling book, The Blessing of a Skinned Knee, resonated with m e. I can relate much of her message to camp and to my own family. I heard Dr. Mogel speak at a camp conference several years ago, and she continues to be active in the camp community. Many of our camp parents have heard her speak at school parenting events or have read her book. If you haven’t had a chance to read The Blessing of a Skinned Knee, I highly recommend it. In addition to sharing about the importance of letting our kids take healthy risks, and not always rescuing them from failure, Mogel gives many other valuable insights. She has recognized the value of camp experiences in the development of emotionally healthy kids, as you can read in the article “Camp Blessings” on her website. A question I often get […]
Episode 8 of the Pog-Cast. Today we’re joined by another Coach’s Award winner, the Awesomeness Coordinator: Cheerio. Cheerio called into the Pog-Cast to talk about WOWs, being happy, and changing the world. She also weighs in on the important speed round questions. We have WOWs, camper submitted PoCo haikus and an oceanic Joke of the Cast.
ORDER YOUR COPY OF SIERRA SUMMERS Enjoy this excerpt from Sierra Summers: The History of Gold Arrow Camp! “I believe […] that every boy should develop some sort of hobby […] a pleasant pastime that you choose when the day’s work is done; a love of doing something for the thing itself.” – Manny Vezie, Founder of Gold Arrow Camp Most of the activities Gold Arrow campers participate in today are in fact the same ones Manny’s first charges enjoyed over eighty years ago, including Manny’s favorite: canoeing. Krieg reported that Manny had “wonderful canoes” and that since his time at Red Arrow, they were always “one of his great loves.” Campers learned to properly paddle and mastered all the different strokes, and though it wasn’t that popular, Manny always made it a primary activity at camp. One of the ways he made it more thrilling was to take the […]
Episode 6 of the Pog-Cast. On this episode we are joined by Sandwich, who shares his thoughts on how we can be our best selves all year. Sandwich was our 2016 Land Director, is a member of the Poetry Corner, and hosts morning assembly. The Pog-Cast also has WOWs, PoCo, a math inspired Joke of the Cast and a GACspiration. Remember that you too can send WOWs by emailing email@example.com or hashtagging #gacwow on Instagram or twitter.
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 share 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 are 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 […]
Episode 5 of the Pog-Cast. On this episode of the Pog-Cast, Soy interviews Crater, who spent the summer of 2016 leading backpacking trips into the high country. They talk about the amazing nature of the High Sierra as well the impact that being in nature has on campers. As always, there’s a joke of the cast, WOWs and even a haiku from Croakie. As always, you can send your WOWs to firstname.lastname@example.org, or hashtag #gacwow on Instagram or twitter. You can subscribe to the GAC Pog-Cast on iTunes here.
Pog-Cast Episode 4 On episode 4 of the Pog-Cast, Soy is joined by 2016 Coach’s Award winner Kettle. She talks about why she’s so happy at camp, how campers can be happy, and shares some WOWs. Soy also has WOWs, Joke of the Cast, and Sandwich shares a haiku in PoCo. You can read more about Kettle in this article about her winning 2016 Coach’s Award. Subscribe to the Pog-Cast on iTunes here and Google Play here.
Pog-Cast Episode 3 On this episode of the Pog-cast, Soy talks to 2016 backpacking director Mac about the Outdoor Leadership Course. He also has reflections from some of the campers who completed the second session of the OLC in 2016. And of course, what Pog-cast would be complete without WOWs, Joke of the Cast and a GACspiration? Well, it wouldn’t be the Pog-cast, so Soy has those too. For more information about the OLC, click here. Subscribe to the Pog-Cast in iTunes here and Google Play here.
One of our many fun traditions at GAC is our camp dance. On the Thursday before each two-week session ends (and the final evening of our one week sessions), all campers and staff attend a themed dance. Dances are a great way for us to celebrate the conclusion of a fun-filled session. Excitement for the dance builds throughout the session, and we practice dancing regularly, including before our daily Morning Assembly and even at some meals. On the day of the dance, as soon as dinner ends, campers head back to their cabins to get ready. They, and their counselors, put on their costumes as the excitement builds. Costumes and props are either brought from home or made at camp. Some people go bargain hunting at the thrift store or at after Halloween sales to find treasures that fit with their session’s dance theme. Counselors really get into finding ways to interpret the theme. Once everyone is ready […]
Pog-Cast Episode 2 On Episode 2 of the GAC POG-CAST, Soy’s back with WOWs and Joke of the Cast, Sunshine shares a GACspiration, and we have an interview with former camper, Junior Counselor, and OLC (Outdoor Leadership Course) participant Will “Quill” Kellogg. Will was a camper for 7 years, spent a month at camp as a Junior Counselor in 2015, and competed 45 miles of backcountry backpacking in the High Sierra as a member of one of our 2016 OLC trips. Will talks with Sunshine about developing grit at camp, and shares some stories and wisdom about trying things even when they are extremely challenging. Subscribe to the Pog-Cast here (iTunes).
Pog-Cast Episode 1 On Episode 1 of the GAC POG-CAST, Soy interviews Baboon, a three-year veteran GAC staff member who’s brought a ton of positive energy and fun to camp. You can read more about Baboon in his Meet our Staff article and in the article about him receiving the 2015 Coach’s Award. And, as in every episode, you’ll enjoy a joke of the day, WOWs, and a little GACspiration (inspiration, GAC-style). Enjoy the POG-cast! Subscribe to the GAC POG-Cast on iTunes!
Meredith “Mocha” Monke is a senior at Westmont College and a three-year veteran GAC counselor. Because her parents (Audrey “Sunshine” and Steve “Monkey” Monke) are the camp owners/directors, Meredith spent all of her childhood summers as a camper. She wrote about her own “grit growing” experiences as a child for a recent creative writing assignment. By Meredith Monke I think if I hadn’t grown up at camp I wouldn’t be an outdoorsy person. But camp is where I feel free—breathing fresh air, being myself. There was this little nook between a big rock and a Jeffrey Pine tree on the hill beside the Dining Porch where my sisters and I would play after dinner. Little bark flakes would scatter on the dirt and if you cut one in half, it made a sort of auburn chalk which we’d use to scribble on the rock. Sometimes we’d sit on the rock […]
Welcome to our new GAC Podcast! On today’s inaugural Gold Arrow Camp Pog-Cast episode, we meet the host, Soy (he’ll also co-host- with Monkey- the GAC Party on October 23), read some WOWs, tell a joke of the day, and explain what we’ll be doing with the GAC Pog-Cast. Join us for six minutes of camp fun in this pilot episode! You can always send us your WOWs by emailing email@example.com or by tagging us on Instagram or Twitter using the tag #gacwow.
“Big Campfire” is a camp tradition dating back to GAC’s earliest years. On the middle Saturday of each two-week session, the entire camp community gathers at our beautiful Big Campfire Amphitheater to enjoy lively entertainment featuring our campers and staff. At Big Campfire, every cabin group gets on stage to perform a skit, a song, or a dance in front of the live audience. For many kids, this is their first time on stage. For others, they love being on the microphone. Either way, it’s a great bonding experience for the group to come together and plan and practice for the “big” night! This summer featured many original songs and skits and showed the creativity and performance skills of our talented campers and counselors! Here is just a sampling of a few of the skits and songs from summer, 2016. To see even more videos from the summer, visit the 2016 Videos […]
In 2009, Gold Arrow Camp lost a dear friend. Ken “Coach” Baker worked at GAC from 1981-1992 and had a huge, positive impact on many of the “old timers” who are still here at camp today, including Sunshine, Monkey, Chelster, Tigger, Woody, and Trapper. In his honor, we established “Coach’s Award,” which is given annually to a leader at camp who motivates others through positive leadership and encouraging words and exemplifies Ken “Coach” Baker’s dedication to GAC’s vision. To select each year’s recipient, we ask the entire staff to complete a nomination form, where they put the name of one person whom they think deserves this honor. They include comments about the person they nominate. We have such a high caliber of staff, many of whom are super positive and exemplify what Coach stood for, and we are grateful for the legacy he left us and that so many people here are […]
One of the best things about being outdoors is cooking over a campfire! Especially after a long hike, food cooked outside, over a fire, tastes especially yummy. At GAC, kids have the opportunity to learn outdoor cooking on our backpacking trips, and we also do outdoor cooking as a free time activity on some evenings. Banana Boats are one of our favorite outdoor cooking recipes! Banana Boats Ingredients: Bananas Chocolate Chips Mini Marshmallows Foil Oven Mitts Plastic cutlery (Forks & Knives) • Slice open the banana, lengthwise, using the plastic knife. • Place desired amount of chocolate chips and marshmallows evenly inside the banana. • Wrap the banana in foil and place in hot coals in the campfire (use oven mitts). • Check if chocolate is sufficiently melted after about five minutes. • Enjoy your Banana Boat! Looking for another yummy outdoor cooking recipe? Try S’moredillas, another camp favorite!
By Audrey “Sunshine” Monke One of our treasured camp traditions is reading to campers each evening at bedtime. We adopted the tradition more than a decade ago, because we realized how calming it is and how much even our oldest campers enjoy it. I also know from my own experience how a love of reading comes from being read to and how, with our media- and achievement-focused culture, reading is sometimes going by the wayside these days. There is no better opportunity to get back to reading “real” books than when we’re unplugged AND have more downtime during the summer. We keep a camp library of good read-aloud chapter books, as well as several Chicken Soup for the Soul anthologies. Some counselors also bring their own childhood favorites to read to their campers. This summer, one of our oldest boys’ counselors, Bambino (Cabin #28), selected Jon Gordon’s The Energy Bus to […]
Our first group of 2016 Junior Counselors (JCs) is completing their final week of their month here with us at GAC. They have been a tremendously positive influence on the camp community, and we are going to miss them when they leave us on Saturday. Last summer (2015) was our first year of our new Junior Counselor program, which replaced the two-week CIT (Counselor in Training) program of previous years. We are thrilled with the training and positive impact our Junior Counselors are having here at GAC. Our Junior Counselors are being led this summer by enthusiastic, long-time GAC staffers Cappy, Orange, and Moo. Cappy, who is celebrating her sixth summer at GAC and who works for camp year-round hiring our summer staff, says, “GAC is constantly refining me to be my best self. GAC empowers campers and staff to unplug, enjoy time in the outdoors, create connections, and lean into challenges that […]
In our expanded Nature program this summer, we’re learning to identify the five most common trees we have in camp – Jeffrey Pine, White Fir, Red Fir, Lodgepole Pine, and Sierra Juniper. Camp Director Alison “Bean” Moeschberger worked with Welker’s Tree Nursery to get some saplings of those varieties and also some Giant Sequoias (state tree of CA). The tree activity involves learning to identifying trees by looking at bark, pine needles, and cones,finding pine cones and seeds, and measuring the circumference of the Jeffrey Pines in order to estimate their age. We have one tree in camp that is estimated to be 440 years old! In addition to learning to identify trees, we’ve also partnered with the Center for Outdoor Ethics to pilot a Leave No Trace curriculum for camps. At our OREO (hiking), Nature, and Backpacking programs this summer, campers are learning the philosophy of Leave No Trace and learning […]
Campers to Counselors from Gold Arrow Camp on Vimeo. The number of former GAC campers who’ve returned to be counselors at GAC has exploded in the past few years. This year is no exception, with 35 former campers now serving as GAC staff! Former campers, even when they are new to being counselors, bring a love of GAC and an understanding of our culture and traditions that has a positive impact on the rest of the camp community. During training week, they participate actively, make friends, have fun, and stretch themselves. Most of all, they remember the things their favorite counselors said and did to help them adjust to camp. We sing the song “The Circle Game” at the end of each Appreciation Campfire. It’s a reminder about how fast the years go by. When kids are young, they think they want to get older. Being at camp and living the […]
Want to see the faces behind the lenses this summer at GAC? It takes a talented team of photographers, videographers, and designers to record and share the fun we have up here at GAC. This year’s team includes several veteran GAC photographers, including our Photography Director, Indie. She is joined by photographers Latte, Lumos, August, Bloom, and Turbo. Shooting and editing video this summer, we have former camper and new staff member Shades. Working on graphic design, including our 2016 yearbook, we’re excited to welcome first year staff member and recent Fresno State graduate in design, Mellow.
With our Growing Grit theme for 2016, we’re talking with campers a lot about grit this summer! Here are some of the things our campers are doing to grow their grit: Want to read more about how we’re growing grit? Visit Sunshine Parenting to read the full article “5 Ways Camp Grows Grit”!
For 2016, we have an experienced team of leaders heading up GAC. Together, they bring more than 100 years of experience to this summer. You can read more about each of them on the Directors page, but here are a few things each of GAC’s Directors have to say about this summer: Audrey “Sunshine” Monke (32 years) Sunshine loves spending her summers at GAC. One of her favorite things about camp is being able to watch campers grow up, become counselors, and then eventually return as camp parents who send their own children to camp. With such a large group of former campers now on staff, Sunshine loves seeing how camp has helped them develop into the leaders they are today. When she gets the chance, Sunshine enjoys teaching campers to waterski, which was her first job at camp back in 1986. Sunshine researches and writes about camp and parenting on her […]
Head Counselors provide leadership and support for our counselors and campers and make sure each camper is having a fantastic experience at GAC. Each Head Counselor has seven cabin groups with whom they work closely. On the first evening of camp, Head Counselors stop by each of their cabin groups’ campfires to introduce themselves and let campers know that they are someone campers can always go to if they need anything. Throughout the session, Head Counselors join their cabin groups for meals, activities, and campfires. They also get feedback from campers on evaluations and follow up with campers to make sure they have the best experience possible at GAC. Our 2016 team of Head Counselors includes an experienced group who bring 28 summers of GAC experience with them to camp. Two of them (Quailman & Smalls) started as campers here at camp! Because of all their years of experience at […]
By Audrey “Sunshine” Monke, Camp Director Originally published on her website, Sunshine Parenting. As parents of this generation, we’ve been told that great parenting means being super-involved with our children and always being in constant communication with them. We give them cell phones as soon as we feel they are ready to have a bit of independence, so that we can be assured that they will call us the minute they need us. There are many benefits to this parenting style. We know our kids well and have developed close family relationships. We also know each of their homework assignments (and assist with a few of them), the drills they did at soccer practice (because we either coached their team or stayed and watched), and what they ate for snack at school. The downside to our “helicopter” parenting, though, is it makes it difficult for our children to develop their independence, problem-solving, and decision-making skills. Hooray […]
Today, our 2016 counselors arrived for staff training! Many are former campers and counselors who have spent many summers with us. Some have traveled from the other side of the world to be counselors at GAC this summer. The map below shows where our international staff are joining us from this summer. Our American staff have come from many different states and regions of our own country: Our campers and staff enjoy hearing the different accents and and phrases of campers and counselors who come from different regions and countries, and we are excited to welcome an amazing group of individuals who have chosen to spend their summer guiding our campers to have fun, make friends, and grow! Read more about our counselors in Meet our Staff!
“Push the tiller towards the sail!” Boris Gregory’s distinct voice boomed through his megaphone across the GAC cove for close to three decades. Campers from the 1960s well into the 1990s will never forget the dynamic sailing duo of Boris and Irene Gregory. They taught countless campers and staff how to navigate the Huntington Lake winds. Last weekend, surrounded by his four children, including current GAC staff member Claudia “Cloudy” (Gregory) Werlin, Boris passed away in Santa Barbara, California, at the age of 96. He joined his beloved wife Irene, who preceded him in death by 14 years (April 16, 2002). Born on May 14, 1920, Boris lived a full and energetic life, which included not only his many years of teaching GAC campers how to sail across Huntington Lake, but also coaching sailing at the college level. Up until he was 90 years old, Boris taught fitness classes to seniors. All of […]
From 2015, watch Session 4’s Cabin 10 perform a remake of “Party in the USA” GAC-style during Big Campfire! “Hopped off the bus at GAC with my trunk and my duffle bag. Welcome to the lake of Huntington. Am I gonna fit in?…”
“I believe […] that every boy should develop some sort of hobby […] a pleasant pastime that you choose when the day’s work is done; a love of doing something for the thing itself.” – Manny Vezie, Founder of Gold Arrow Camp Chuck “Woody” Radke, a 20 year veteran staff member, has been researching Gold Arrow Camp’s history for a book he’s writing about Camp. Many of the stories Woody has gathered from GAC’s early years have come through interviews and writings from people who were there, including Manny’s oldest son, Krieg Vezie (1932-2013) and Smoke Signals, the Camp newspaper that was published three times during the summer of 1945. Most of the activities Gold Arrow campers participate in today are in fact the same ones Manny’s first charges enjoyed over eighty years ago, including Manny’s favorite: canoeing. Krieg reported that Manny had “wonderful canoes” and that since his time […]
Kettle 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 […]
A kid today can likely tell you about the Amazon rain forest – but not about the last time he or she explored the woods in solitude, or lay in a field listening to the wind and watching the clouds move. -Richard Louv, Last Child in the Woods By Audrey “Sunshine” Monke, Camp Director At GAC, “getting outside to experience the awe of nature” is one of our core values. Many of our campers, who primarily live in cities or suburbs, have never had the opportunity to live in and experience nature up close. The rustic set-up of our living areas, which are large tents on wood platforms, allows campers the feeling of being close to nature throughout their stay at camp. With no electricity (and the distractions inherent with being plugged in to technology), campers truly get to experience living outdoors. From their tents, campers can hear birds […]
This summer, we’re focusing on Growing Grit, and so we were excited to receive the following email from Billy Jones, father of second year camper, Charlotte. In it, he describes the grit Charlotte demonstrated on a service trip to Haiti this year. Thank you to the Jones family for sharing this “Grit Story.” Do you have a good grit story? We’d love to hear it! Send us an email or give us a call at 1-800-554-2267. Our 12 year old daughter Charlotte was a first time camper last summer and is coming back this summer. She loved her time at GAC and made lots of new friends. Last week, I took Charlotte to Haiti on a trip to visit our partner school in Caracol. Four 7th graders, four parents, and three teachers went to deliver some supplies and continue building our relationship with this rural school community. We drove four […]
Bambino, 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 […]
“To be able to experience all of the amazing activities in such a supportive and friendly environment has been such a gift.” – Courtney Cohen For the Cohens, Gold Arrow Camp is an important family tradition. With a combined total of 38 years, they’ve created a second home at camp. According to mom Lisa, “Gold Arrow has been, and will continue to be, an incredible part of our family’s life.” Dad Scott Cohen discovered both ceramics and sailing, two hobbies that he still enjoys, during his days as a camper in the 1970s. He enjoys ceramics so much that the Cohens have a kiln in their garage, and Scott has incorporated creating and installing ceramic tiles into his clients’ projects (he has a landscape design business). Scott sails as often as he can and has his captain’s license, and he has passed along his love of sailing to his three […]
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!
By Camp Director, Alison “Bean” Moeschberger “On belay.” “Belay on.” “Climbing.” “Climb on.” Although this exchange of commands between climber and belayer is simple, they represent the final gut-check before engaging in Rocks & Ropes activities, which are among the most fun and challenging activities at camp. The Ropes Course gives campers the choice to complete the lower course with friends or the upper course independently. Both courses have difficult elements that require agility, balance, and concentration. There are also several other activities at the ropes course area that provide campers with additional climbing and adrenaline-inducing challenges. The Zipline and Big Swing give campers an opportunity to soar through the air, and the Vertical Playpen and Giant’s Ladder test campers’ climbing strength and teamwork. Campers also enjoy Rock Climbing and climbing on the Wall, a wooden tower with climbing holds. Counselors help improve campers’ climbing technique and guide their hand and […]
By Camp Director, Audrey ‘”Sunshine” Monke, originally published at Sunshine Parenting “The movie Stepford Wives came to mind as I watched my students live their college life still somehow looking to the sidelines for mom or dad’s direction, protection, or intervention as if they were five, playing soccer, and needed a parent to point in which direction to kick the ball. I began to wonder, I began to worry actually, are we raising Stepford Children?” -Julie Lythcott Haims I was thrilled to have a front row seat for Julie Lythcott-Haims’ message to camp professionals at the American Camp Association National Conference in Atlanta this week. I was also struck by how camp experiences offer an excellent antidote to the struggles we all face in the “overparenting” era Lythcott-Haims describes in her best-selling book, How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success. […]
We’re excited to welcome Yorkie back for his seventh summer at GAC! Yorkie will be the Rock Climbing 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) […]
A favorite of many campers and staff, Caprese Salad is a fresh, delicious salad we often serve with salmon or tri-tip at camp. It’s a simple recipe, with just a few ingredients, so it’s one that campers may enjoy making at home for their families. It’s also a great dish to bring to share at a potluck! We hope you enjoy making Caprese Salad! Ingredients 10 ounces cherry or cherub tomatoes, chopped in half 8 ounces whole milk mozzarella, cherry sized. Chopped in half or fourths 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped 2-3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar salt and pepper to taste (note: you can also add 1 tablespoon of olive oil if you’d like the added flavor, but it’s not necessary) Instructions Toss all of the ingredients in a large bowl. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve. Enjoy! (We got the recipe from here: http://www.thecookierookie.com/chopped-caprese-salad/)
I remember my first year at GAC, I was so nervous to be spending time away from my parents. I was only seven years old! The moment I got off the bus at camp, everyone was so welcoming and we even got Goldie’s Cookies. Immediately I felt comfortable. Since that first day, I’ve never gotten homesick, and by the end of camp I don’t want to leave! GAC is my home away from home, and I don’t know what I would do with out it! -Melissa Wald Melissa Wald is not only an enthusiastic seven-year veteran GAC camper, but also a generous young adult who wants to share the camp experience with others. For her Mitzvah Project, she raised $1,000 for the Manny Vezie Fund, a camp scholarship operated through the Max and Marion Caldwell Foundation. Melissa’s donation will help a camper who would not otherwise be able to afford […]
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 […]
At Gold Arrow Camp, we strive to not only provide our campers with memorable, happy, and life-changing camp experiences during the summer, but also to provide resources to our camp families that enhance our campers’ lives year-round. On Target, our Magazine for Camp Families, is an annual resource we provide for that purpose. In each edition, we feature articles from parenting experts, best-selling authors passionate about positive youth development, and long-time staff members. Our current On Target features articles and excerpts on several topics that directly impact our children’s (and our own) happiness. Camp Director and parenting blogger Audrey “Sunshine” Monke shares the five ways that camp grows grit and why kids need to get uncomfortable. Happiness expert Christine Carter, author of Raising Happiness and The Sweet Spot writes about grit vs. intelligence. We also have an article on how much screen time is healthy by the filmmaker Delany Ruston. Renowned child therapist Bob Ditter joins us to […]
You probably want a number here. If you’re only going to read these first two sentences, then I’ll pick the age of nine. But my real answer is a bit more complex. When to start sending your child to sleep-away camp is a decision that depends on you, your parenting style, and your child’s temperament. Many kids have extremely fun and successful camp experiences as young as six years old, but that’s too young for most kids. And, for some parents, the thought of their child EVER going to camp (without them) is unimaginable. If you’re one of those parents, please read Five Reasons Great Parents Send Their Kids to Camp. Sometimes, “he’s not ready for camp” actually means you’re not ready. Realizing that your child can be okay without you is sometimes hard on parents, and it’s a big step to let them have the independent experience of summer […]
Our beloved camp dog, Lucy, met approximately 7,252 campers and more than 2,000 staff over her 15 years at GAC (according to Monkey’s calculations). We’re pretty sure most of those campers gave her some love and pets, and we know that many homesick campers were soothed by her soft fur. Lucy loved all the campers and staff at GAC and enjoyed a fun, full life. Lucy joined camp as a young puppy the summer of 2001, chased sticks into Huntington Lake, loved going in boats, and especially enjoyed being pet and loved on by thousands of campers and staff. When Lucy slowed down over the past few summers, she still showed up for every meal for hundreds of pets on the steps by the dining porch. Thank you for 15 years of friendship and love, Lucy. We will miss you. Enjoy this tribute video, which shows just a few of the […]
“Gold Arrow Camp has taught me to be brave and reach my goals. If it weren’t for GAC, I wouldn’t be nearly as courageous as I am now.” Remi Courage Perseverance Hardiness Resilience Ambition Need for Achievement Conscientious These are all desirable traits we want for ourselves and for our kids. What do these traits have in common? All are associated with grit, which psychologist Angela Lee Duckworth defined in a 2013 TED Talk as “passion and perseverance for very long-term goals.” Grit correlates with stamina and stick-to-itiveness, Duckworth said, “day in, day out, not just for the week, not just for the month, but for years.” Duckworth is among a handful of researchers and educators who have studied grit in the context of behavior for the last few years in an effort to determine who will be successful in certain settings—such as schools—and why. Surprisingly, perhaps, she found that […]
Here at GAC, we love inspirational quotes! During the summer, we have inspirational posts in all our bathrooms (where we have a captive audience!). And, throughout the year, we share our GACspirations on Facebook and Instagram. If you want some inspiration for your new year, why not use one of our GACspirations as your computer desktop screen saver? Or print one out for your own bathroom? Enjoy our new GACspirations gallery! And start 2016 INSPIRED!
As the year comes to a close, we thought it would be fun to remember some of our favorite moments of the summer! In case you missed these awesome videos (or just want to watch them again!) here are our session highlight videos from Summer 2015: Session One: Session Two: Session Three: Session Four: We hope your holidays are merry and your new year is happy! (And check out some of our other videos, too!)
Over the summer of 2015, we asked some of our experienced campers, who were spending their 5th summer with us, what they love about Gold Arrow Camp and why they keep coming back. Here’s what some of these experienced campers had to say:
Request more information about Gold Arrow Camp. “My shy, quiet nine-year-old went to camp not knowing a soul. She came home transformed. She blossomed. She made friends, learned a multitude of activities, felt safe, loved, confident, and happy — really, really happy. As hard as it was on me, it was all worth it for her. It was the single best thing I have ever done for her.” – First-time camp parent In today’s screen-addicted, fast-moving, ultra-competitive world, raising kids who grow into flourishing, kind, independent adults has become more challenging for parents. But research by the American Camp Association shows that even just one week at a quality summer camp program can benefit your child’s development of important life skills. In partnership with parents who are focused on their child’s healthy development, Gold Arrow Camp offers a positive, growth-focused outdoor experience that can help your child develop important life skills including independence, an appreciation for […]
Written by Audrey “Sunshine” Monke Creating a grateful family culture is a challenge in our entitled, indulgent age. Yet much research has confirmed what we intuitively know – practicing gratitude and being grateful are keys to a happier life. Therefore, it’s well worth our consistent and continued effort as parents to model and teach our kids to practice gratitude. While I’ve researched and written about gratitude quite a bit, my family still has a long way to go to live as truly grateful people. So, as we enter this Thanksgiving week of 2015, I am once again doubling down my efforts to promote gratitude in my family. After all, if we constantly dwell on what’s going wrong in our lives and in the world (and stay focused on what we don’t have), we are left feeling anxious, empty, and depressed. But when we take time to count our blessings, we shift our mindsets and […]
Gold Arrow Camp’s Shaver Island Outpost is a highlight of the camp experience for many of our campers. The island getaway serves as a break in the highly-structured routine of main camp and provides an opportunity for campers to enjoy the outdoors in a different way. Campers who attend our two-week sessions spend one or two nights on our island at Shaver Lake. Shaver offers the ideal setting for campers to learn and hone their waterskiing, wakeboarding, and kneeboarding skills, as those are the only activities offered on the island. These behind-the-boat water sports can be daunting to try for the first time, and we find that campers really build grit while learning and improving their skills. Often, campers’ goals at the start of the session reflect their desire to get up on a waterski, wakeboard, or kneeboard for the first time or to improve their skills at one of these sports. For […]
“The paddle ceremony was so emotional and special. All of the people who felt as passionate as I do about camp were there, and it was such a supportive and reflective environment where we could analyze why our experiences were invaluable to us and how we could take the feeling of being our best selves out into our lives as well as inspire others. It was such a vulnerable and raw moment, and although there was a lot of closure, there were still aspects of finding myself (the challenge word) that I could work on in my life.” – Greta, 2015 Graduating Camper At the close of each camp session, all “graduating” campers (the final year of camper eligibility is the summer after ninth grade) receive an invitation to attend a special private campfire ceremony commemorating their camper years at GAC. Each graduating camper is presented with a wood paddle, engraved with their names and […]
The Outdoor Leadership Course is a two-week program for young people interested in developing outdoor leadership skills. Trained leaders guide OLC participants on a challenging, six-day, 30-mile backpacking trip into the High Sierras. Throughout the session, campers develop backcountry navigational and survival skills, practice wilderness first aid skills, and participate in GAC activities. The purpose of the OLC is to challenge teens to learn and grow in self-awareness, develop maturity, and discover the value of community and working with others to solve problems and accomplish shared objectives. There’s no shortage of people who believe teens leaving high school need to be taught more skills than reading, writing and basic math to be successful, thriving adults. What are those skills, though, and how do we incorporate this kind of learning into busy schedules and short attention spans? The OLC was designed to equip and empower campers to learn and practice hard skills […]
We’re having a GAC pumpkin carving contest, and we want to see your best camp-themed pumpkins! Post your GAC-o-lantern on social media and tag #gacolantern and #goldarrowcamp or email a picture of your pumpkin to firstname.lastname@example.org so we can share your pumpkin! Winners will receive a surprise from the GAC store! All submissions are due by October 31st. Recently the GAC office gathered to carve pumpkins! We all went for a different design. While we won’t quit our camp jobs to become pumpkin carvers anytime soon, we still had a blast! Check out our GAC-o-lanterns! We can’t wait to see what our creative campers and camp families carve! Happy carving! GAC-o-lantern contest submissions are in! Thanks to everyone who carved a camp-themed pumpkin this year! Check out all of the GAC-o-lanterns!
When GAC campers arrive at their campsites on backpacking trips, they unload their packs and set up camp before changing into bathing suits for a dip in the fresh mountain lake. But first, all of the “group gear” is unpacked, which includes camping stoves, pots, pans, and ingredients used to make the next few meals. Within a pile in one lucky camper’s backpack are ingredients for one of our favorite treats to make at camp – s’more quesadillas, also known as a S’MOREDILLAS! Often on the minds of campers as they’re unloading the assorted chocolate chips, marshmallows and graham crackers is the delicious s’more they’ll be having. A s’moredilla is a delicious spin on a classic treat! After a long hike, what could be better than warm, melted chocolate and marshmallows tucked between buttery, toasted flour tortillas, fried and dusted with cinnamon sugar? The answer is nothing! That’s why s’moredillas are one of our […]
Written by Audrey “Sunshine” Monke I have to admit, I was caught off guard by the profound revelations shared at our closing campfire for our “graduating” campers. These are high school kids heading into 10th grade, and they were emotional about completing their final year as campers. The campfire started with counselors calling up each camper and presenting a wooden paddle commemorating their time at camp. Each paddle was engraved with the camper’s name and included as many black notches as the years they had spent at camp. Most of the paddles had at least four or five notches, but some had as many as nine or ten. These were experienced campers who loved coming to camp and returned year after year. We thanked them for sharing a piece of their childhood with us and told them that, although this part of their Gold Arrow life is over, camp will […]
All of our activities at Gold Arrow Camp are designed to teach campers new skills and allow them to challenge themselves as they work to improve those skills through the years. Riflery marksmanship is a traditional camp activity that is consistently a favorite among campers and is one that most campers to do not have the opportunity to experience at home. The most important element of instructing Riflery at camp is teaching campers how to safely use a gun. Our instructors take time to ensure that campers will be safe and respectful of the guns at camp and will know how to exercise caution if they encounter a gun in a different environment. Campers learn to treat every gun as if it’s loaded and that a gun should only be pointed at something they intend to shoot. The instructors explain the mechanics of a gun and help campers learn the […]
By Audrey “Sunshine” Monke, Camp Director At one time in their lives, many of the parents I know were camp counselors. Those same people have told me that their time spent as counselors was great training ground for parenting. Among other things, they learned to comfort, encourage, set goals, and resolve disputes — all things we experience daily in our lives as moms and dads. However, not every parent has had the benefit of camp counselor training. In fact, most parents have had NO training at all. Perhaps they took a Lamaze class or two, but we all know that having the kid is not the hardest part! I’ve often lamented that all parents should be required to go through some training, at least the same training camp counselors do (a minimum of one week at most camps). Unfortunately, that is not the case, nor is it realistic. So the best […]
In 2009, Gold Arrow Camp lost a dear friend. Ken “Coach” Baker (March 10, 1951 – April 5, 2009) worked at GAC as Assistant Director and Director from 1981-1992, and he had a huge, positive impact on many still at camp today. Ken was instrumental in helping the Monke family purchase Gold Arrow from Jeanie Vezie in 1989 and mentored Sunshine and Monkey during their early years. Ken’s wife, Carol “Mama Bear” Baker, was also a long-time staff member at GAC. Many current staff who were former campers may remember Mama Bear from her many years as Camp Mom. Ken’s daughter, Ali “Picaflor” Baker, was a camper throughout her childhood, continued on as a CIT, and spent a summer working as an Activity Counselor on the Waterfront. In 2009, Gold Arrow Camp established “Coach’s Award” to honor Ken. This award is given each year to a leader at camp, nominated by his or her peers, who […]
By Jeffrey “Jif” Butterworth Whether your family’s residence is located in the heart of a booming metropolis or the glowing hills of one of California’s many rural areas, opportunities for connecting your sons or daughters with the outdoors is plentiful and worthwhile. Research evidence indicates that children who participate in some kind of nature based education perform higher in school, have improved attitudes about learning, and are all around happier young people. Extensive curriculum and in-depth teaching methodology are not required to start engaging your child with nature. Some kind of green space, a child-like sense of wonder, and freedom from fear of getting a little dirt on your knees are all that are necessary to equip a young person with the tools for life-long learning. Before spending my summer with Gold Arrow, I was given the unique opportunity to teach 5th grade science at San Mateo Outdoor Education. S.M.O.E., […]
By Chuck “Woody” Radke, GAC Historian and longtime staff member I’ve had the unique privilege of spending parts of 21 summers at Gold Arrow Camp, where my twin, 13-year-old daughters—as well as my 7-year-old son—have had the even more unique opportunity to attend as campers. Recently, I had a chance to talk with a young woman (nicknamed, “Tango”) who works at the camp as a head counselor. I’d heard great things about a “friendship academy” for teenaged girls she’d started at Gold Arrow, the goal of which was to find ways to mitigate negative behavior like gossiping and introduce opportunities to build positive relationships. Hmmm. Did I mention I have two teenaged daughters? I was intrigued. Tango started at Gold Arrow a few years back as a group counselor for oldest girls, and though she loved the experience, one thing that troubled her was the formation of cliques within her […]
Our first-ever group of Junior Counselors (JCs) is completing their final week of their month here with us at GAC. They have been a tremendously positive influence on the camp community, and we are going to miss them when they leave us on Saturday. We are thrilled with the new four- week Junior Counselor program, which replaced the two-week CIT (Counselor in Training) program of previous years. Our Junior Counselors are being led this summer by enthusiastic, long-time GAC staffers, Dazzler and Cappy. Dazzler, who is joining GAC for his fourth summer says about working at GAC, “I relish living within such a supportive community, building REALationships with old and new friends, and sharing new experiences with like-minded people. I think it is very rare to have such a fun group of like-minded, young people together in a special setting with the single goal to help others have […]
For just a moment, imagine you’re an 11-year-old. The soft, warm glow of a campfire heats your shins as the sun begins to slink behind the ragged tips of pine and fir. The deep blue Sierra sky floods with orange and pink light as temperatures start to fall. There is a crisp in the air. You know night will soon arrive and with it, an unknowable number of glowing stars. You glance around the fire. You don’t know it yet, but in front of you are the faces of limitless potential. The possibility of lifelong friendship and adventure hides under the disguise of “new cabinmates”. You turn and look at your counselors, smiling. One looks at you and asks, “What are three goals you have for yourself while at camp?” You freeze and your mind goes blank. When asked to prepare a short article on five goals I have for this […]
Moxie is joining us for her first summer as a GAC counselor! Moxie is part of the backpacking team, so she will be leading Lions’ and Tigers’ trips and Bears’ Adventure! She is currently a Junior at Hollins University in Roanoke, Virginia, studying Sociology. She’s active and loves the outdoors! Every weekend, Moxie is paddling, rock climbing, or backpacking with the Hollins Outdoor Program. In November, she competed on the Hollins University whitewater racing team, earning second place in the Women’s Championship at the annual American Canoe Association Collegiate Race Series National Championships on the Rappahannock River in Fredericksburg, Virginia! We are so excited for Moxie to join the GAC family! We wanted to know more about her, so we asked a couple questions. Check out what else Moxie has to say! 1. Why did you want to be a camp counselor? I grew up going to summer camp and I remember admiring my counselors for their […]
Most of us know the importance of family dinners: Kids who regularly eat dinner with their families are more emotionally stable, are less likely to abuse drugs and alcohol, get better grades, have fewer depressive symptoms, and are less inclined to obesity or eating disorders. It’s certainly a compelling list. But what can you do if your family dinner isn’t that great? If people just “eat and run” or don’t really connect? One answer might be turning your dinner table into a campfire pit. Not literally, of course, but group campfires at summer camp offer a great example of fun, engaging activities that have helped make dinners at our house last longer than the ten minutes it takes my boys to shovel down their food. Here are some ideas: Sharing highs, lows, and “gratitudes” (I know that’s not a real word, but that’s what we use) One way we’ve found to get everyone talking and […]
I usually rush through the day thinking about what I need to get done and consumed by all the stuff that weighs on my time and my brain. And yet, being aware of those around me and doing a simple act of kindness can change the trajectory of my, and possibly someone else’s, day. I’ll never forget the time, at a camp reunion, when a former counselor told me a story I didn’t remember. She was cold one night, and I found her a blanket. Such a little thing, and yet, 15 years later, she remembered this as a significant act of kindness that impacted her. It really struck me that some of the little acts of kindness we do may be MUCH bigger than we think. We may not even remember them, but the act may be imprinted on the recipient. And so, it’s important to be aware of […]
Each year, we produce On Target, a magazine for camp families. We strive to not only provide our campers with memorable, happy, and life-changing camp experiences during the summer, but also to provide resources to our camp families that enhance our campers’ lives year-round. In each edition, we feature articles from parenting experts, best-selling authors passionate about positive youth development, and long-time staff members. Our newest On Target features articles and excerpts from Richard Louv, chairman of the Children and Nature Network and author of the best-selling book Last Child in the Woods, who shares his insights about the value of camp. Tina Payne Bryson, co-author (with Dan Siegel) of the New York Times Best-Selling The Whole-Brain Child, a psychotherapist at Pediatric and Adolescent Psychology Associates, challenges us to think about parenting priorities. An excerpt from Madeline Levine’s book, Teach Your Children Well, offers parenting advice for this overscheduled, technology-focused era. And our favorite happiness guru, […]
Last summer, I conducted research on the impact camp experiences have on children’s social skills and happiness. This research was through the California State University, Fresno for my master’s degree thesis entitled, “The Perceived Impact of Camp Experiences on Youth Social Skills and Subjective Well-Being.” “Camp is basically my happy place, and I love being here more than any other place in the world.” – 2014 GAC Camper “Happy camper” is an expression used to describe anyone who’s feeling good about something in any circumstance. But just how happy are actual campers who attend overnight summer camp? Last summer, in research conducted at seven different residential summer camps that included over 3,000 campers, I set out to answer that very question. When campers completed their normal end-of-camp survey (used by camps to get feedback about the experience), additional questions in 2014 asked about happiness. From those, 80% of campers reported that their […]
Five-year camper, Molly, wrote an article featured in the March 2015 Summer Camp Issue of Fast Forward, a publication written by kids, for kids, about coming to Gold Arrow Camp for the first time! Molly writes about her feelings leading up to camp and when she arrived at GAC for the first time. We love watching campers return from year to year! This will be Molly’s fifth summer at GAC (blanket year!), and it’s fun watching her develop into an independent, outgoing, fun, and dynamic leader in her cabin group. Calling all creative campers! If you have a story, poem, essay, photograph, video or anything you’d like to share with us, please mail it to email@example.com or use #goldarrowcamp and tag us on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter! When I first heard the word “sleep away camp” I got chills down my spine. Weeks of packing and every second I was scared. Gone from home for two weeks? I didn’t think I could do […]
Read Gold Arrow Camp Director Audrey “Sunshine” Monke’s related article, 3 Character Traits Kids Develop at Camp, at Sunshine Parenting.
Written by Alison “Bean” Moeschberger I still cringe every time I hear a counselor tell me that they’re not returning to camp next summer because they have to get an internship to prepare for their “real job.” It stings because this is my real job, but, more than that, I believe wholeheartedly in the training and life preparation counselors experience while working at summer camp. It would be easy to say that camp counseling is a good internship for people who want to work with children for their career, but the work experience camp counselors gain at camp translates to strong, employable skills that any company would be excited to see in their applicants. 6 Critical Skills Counselors Develop at Camp: Responsibility There is no greater responsibility than caring for other people’s children. Camp counselors are responsible for the 24-hour care of a group of children. They have a very significant presence on […]
Space is still available for Summer, 2016 in our one-week session (August 21-27)! “My shy, quiet nine-year-old went to camp not knowing a soul. Two weeks later, she came home transformed. She blossomed. She made friends, learned a multitude of activities, felt safe, loved, confident, and happy — really, really happy. As hard as it was on me, it was all worth it for her. It was the single best thing I have ever done for her.” – First-time camp parent Many parents won’t allow their child to go on a school field trip or school outdoor education trip unless they are chaperoning, so it’s no surprise that those same parents may find the idea of sending their child to sleep-away camp incomprehensible. As a camp parent, you may get a shocked response from one of these “non-camp” parents. They may ask you things like, “How can you stand having your […]
We’re looking forward to Freckles joining us for her third year at Gold Arrow Camp! She’ll be the Special Events Coordinator, taking care of everything from Tigers’ Bingo to Dances and Carnival! She is currently a Junior at the University of California, Berkeley, studying Political Science. Freckles is the Under-Secretary-General of Special Events for the Berkeley Model United Nations and is a member of the Student Union Program, Entertainment, and Recreation Board, which organizes events for students. In her free time, she enjoys running, playing soccer, and drawing. This fall, Freckles has been accepted to the Global & International Studies program at Meiji Gakuin University and will be studying in Japan in the fall. We love Freckles’ bright, easygoing personality. Her campers describe her as fun, encouraging, outgoing, and “someone who makes you feel special.” She isn’t afraid to be silly, and you can always count on her to join any dance party without thinking twice. We’re excited for the crazy fun she brings […]
Campers who attend our two-week sessions spend one or two nights at our Shaver Island Outpost. This is a highlight of camp for many of our campers. Shaver Island offers the ideal setting for campers to learn and hone their waterskiing, wakeboarding, and kneeboarding skills. With eight ski boats, nine experienced instructors, and hours of time behind the boat, campers learn and improve their skills rapidly during their stay at Shaver. While on Shaver, campers have the opportunity to build friendships with campers in other cabin groups. The nightly campfire at Shaver is at a big campfire pit, where all the campers and counselors gather around to sing songs, tell stories, and play games. Camping on the beach and falling asleep watching the shooting stars are also memorable experiences from their stay at our Shaver Island Outpost. Many returning campers choose to spend an entire week at Shaver Island in addition to […]
By Alison “Bean” Moeschberger The program at Gold Arrow has been designed to provide campers with a variety of experiences and opportunities while they are at camp. Rather than focusing on skill progression in one area, we feel it is important for campers to be introduced to activities they may not have chosen to do on their own. We strive to create a supportive and encouraging environment in which campers feel comfortable pushing their own boundaries and can learn about themselves as they conquer fears, face challenges, and live in community with others. Cabin groups are scheduled to participate in activities together for two of the three activity periods each day. During cabin activities, the Group Counselor plays a key role in fostering personal growth in campers. These specialized counselors attend activities with the cabin group and help campers set personal and group goals and hold the group accountable for […]
We’re excited about Baboon returning to GAC for his second summer! He’ll be the Waterfront Director, so keep a look out for him when you head down to the water for your activities. He’ll be there with a huge smile on his face, probably dancing around, excited to see you! He’s just that kind of guy! Baboon is originally from a village in the North Downs in Surrey, England. He is passionate about water sports, and is an experienced coach and competitive wakeboarder. While living in England, he spent his weekends teaching wakeboarding. He’s currently working at Whistler Blackcomb Ski Resort before he ventures back to camp in May. His endless high energy, positivity, patience, and passion make him an easy favorite among campers and counselors. Baboon has never met a stranger! His willingness to jump in whenever help is needed and his dedication to working hard is inspiring, and we’re looking forward to his nonstop […]
by Alison “Bean” Moeschberger The theme for GAC 2015 is “Give a Hand,” and we’re excited to focus on reaching out and helping others. We are challenging the GAC community to complete 2015 hours of service in 2015! You can help us reach that goal by pledging to Give a Hand for at least one hour between now and December 31. Together, with more than 1200 campers, their families, and 200 staff, we can have a huge impact on others as we find ways to Give a Hand this year. Click here for suggestions of how you can Give a Hand in your community. We want to know what you’re doing to Give a Hand! Are you already doing community service for school or another organization? Do you have a great idea about how you would like to help us meet our goal this year? Be creative! There are two ways you can […]
by Audrey “Sunshine” Monke Wendy Mogel’s best selling book, The Blessing of a Skinned Knee, resonated with me. I can relate much of her message to camp and to my own family. I heard Dr. Mogel speak at a camp conference several years ago, and she continues to be active in the camp community. Many of our camp parents have heard her speak at school parenting events or have read her book. If you haven’t had a chance to read The Blessing of a Skinned Knee, I highly recommend it. In addition to sharing about the importance of letting our kids take healthy risks, and not always rescuing them from failure, Mogel gives many other valuable insights. She has recognized the value of camp experiences in the development of emotionally healthy kids, as you can read in the article “Camp Blessings” on her website. A question I often get asked, […]
Get ready to “Give a Hand” in 2015! Our 2015 theme is giving. We’re so inspired by the importance of giving that we want to encourage our campers and staff to start giving NOW and not wait until summer! You can check out the Give A Hand page here! How can campers “Give a Hand” this year? Here are some ways to give: Time: Help others through giving service. Talents: Share your talents. • Make something you’re good at and give it away to someone who needs it (blankets/beanies/etc). • Make something or do something you’re good at to raise money to give away (For example, run the Kids 4 Kids Race with GAC Runners in April and raise money for children’s cancer research!) • Teach others how to do something you are good at. Kind Words: Give a compliment or a nice note to a stranger or friend. Friendship: Give attention […]
Estaline Watkins was Manny Vezie’s first wife and was instrumental in helping Manny realize his dream of starting Gold Arrow Camp. Estaline passed away in Redding, California, on November 11, 2014, at the age of 108. Manny and Estaline met while both worked summer jobs at Yellowstone National Park. She was a talented musician, dancer, and horseback rider who loved the outdoors. A graduate of Northwestern University with a degree in music, she taught briefly while waiting for Manny to complete his education at Notre Dame. The two married in 1931 and immediately moved to Southern California to start a life and family. Manny had a law degree, but Estaline said it was work that never really “stirred him.” Throughout their early years, he had talked often with Estaline about starting a camp for boys. When he came home from his first day of work in a law firm, he […]
I spent the six most important summers of my life at Gold Arrow Camp. I have my blanket and I also think GAC changed my life. I had no idea I owed it so much to Jeanie. Ellen Fead Fields (Camper 1964-1971) Many parents and grandparents of today’s campers fondly remember Jeanie Vezie, who co-owned and directed Gold Arrow Camp with her husband Manny for thirty years. Jeanie passed away at the age of 101 on Saturday, December 13, 2014. Jeanie was born on a ranch in Western Nebraska on February 17, 1913. “We lived on this ranch, and in February out west the weather can get pretty bad. There was a big blizzard. The doctor couldn’t make it. My father sent a team to go to the farm next door to get the midwife. When the midwife arrived, she found me all cleaned up and my dad holding me […]
1. New Programs! This summer, GAC added FOUR new programs: Log Rolling, Hammock Hangout, GACting, and Ice Cream Making. 2. Big Campfire – Bigger and Better Than Ever! Big Campfire featured new seating, a sound booth, and a staging area behind the stage. Campers now have the opportunity to prepare for skits backstage! 3. Appreciation Campfire Highlight Videos At the end of each Appreciation Campfire, before counselors lit candles and we all sang “The Circle Game,” we watched a video of session highlights produced by Curly, our videographer. There were even guest vocals by counselors. 4. Campers Conquered Fears At the end of the summer, this banner was filled with stories and signatures of campers who conquered their fear of sailing! 5. Koo Koo Kanga Roo Many times during the summer, campers and staff would drop everything to pick up our feet and stomp them to a Koo Koo Kanga Roo hit. 6. ChiLala Got […]
World Kindness Day is coming up on November 13. here are some great kindness ideas:
Every year we ask our five year campers to answer questions about their time at GAC. Here is a glimpse of what some of our campers had to say this year in answer to questions on our Five-Year Camper Survey: How has your time at Gold Arrow Camp Influenced you? “It has always been something to look forward to and is a great escape from the rest of the world. GAC has taught me to try things out of my comfort zone and meet new people.” – Colin Kruse “I am no longer afraid to be without my parents. I have also been more grateful and thoughtful towards my peers at school.” – Lucy Mahlmeister “Gold Arrow has really helped me become more confident with who I am and has helped me try new things. Without camp, I would be too shy to go up to someone and introduce myself or start dancing […]
We just ended another fantastic Sierra summer, and we’re already counting down the days until Summer 2015! While at camp, we asked a few of our five-year campers what made GAC great. Ruth, a five-year GAC camper, was asked to write an ode directed towards something or someone she loved. Ruth chose to write about GAC. Here’s what she said.. G-A-C is the camp to beat Really great people you will meet Smelling the vanilla tree on the way to meals Putting on chap stick so your lips don’t peel Green and Gold, we represent Spending two to four weeks in a big green tent Without this camp my summers would be a bore Missing out on sleeping with my cabin mates and listening to our counselors snore Three years a banner, five years a blanket, ten years a jacket I know I’m going to make it Have fun, make friends, and […]
In 2009, Gold Arrow Camp lost a dear friend. Ken “Coach” Baker (March 10, 1951 – April 5, 2009) worked at GAC as Assistant Director and Director from 1981-1992, and he had a huge, positive impact on many still at camp today. Ken was instrumental in helping the Monke family purchase Gold Arrow from Jeanie Vezie in 1989 and mentored Sunshine and Monkey during their early years. Ken’s wife, Carol “Mama Bear” Baker, was also a long-time staff member at GAC. Many current staff who were former campers may remember Mama Bear from her many years as Camp Mom. Ken’s daughter, Ali “Picaflor” Baker, was a camper throughout her childhood, continued on as a CIT, and spent a summer working as an Activity Counselor on the Waterfront. In 2009, Gold Arrow Camp established “Coach’s Award” to honor Ken. This award is given each year to a leader at camp, nominated by his or her peers, who motivates […]
The trees tall and the sky so blue May make this place seem ordinary to you But that may hide the quality inside That makes this the best place worldwide For friendship sounds around the trees And echoes through the sky and breeze And love is spread throughout this place And shows in every single person’s face And if that is not enough for you Then think of all the things we do And finally when all the joy and laughter is done We can’t wait to come back next year for some fun Lily, a fourth year camper from Campbell, California, was in Cabin 13, Session 1.
This is the recipe for one of our campers’ favorite dinners from this session. Several campers have asked, so here is our GAC Cheesy Chicken Recipe for families to make at home! GAC Cheesy Chicken (Chicken Parmesan) Ingredients: Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts 2 tbsp Dijon to 1 cube butter Equal parts parmesan cheese and Italian seasoned bread crumbs (start with 1 cup each) Flour Preparation: Melt butter, mix in Dijon mustard Combine bread crumbs and parmesan Dust chicken in flour, dip in butter mixture, coat with crumb mixture Bake until golden brown and cooked to 165º internal temperature Enjoy!
Our goals at Gold Arrow Camp are articulated, posted, recited, and practiced by our campers and staff each summer. The goals are to have fun, make friends, and grow. Each summer, we also select a theme to help campers and staff focus on a specific skill or character trait that will contribute to their fun, friendships, and growth. We want our campers to develop life skills at camp that benefit them long after their camp days are over. In 2012, we focused on practicing gratitude. In 2013, kindness was our focus. And our 2014 summer theme is Creating Connections. Friendships have always been a big part of what makes campers and staff love GAC and return year after year, so this summer we are focusing on one of the best aspects of camp – Creating Connections! We’ll focus on making solid friendship connections at camp, learning and practicing social skills […]
Found this lovely gem and thought we might share it as a throwback to our theme from last summer, “It’s cool to be kind.” This was written by Renee, one of our 2013 campers. We hope you enjoy! Over the past few days at GAC I’ve witnessed, participated, and experienced so many acts of kindness. This session at GAC has also emphasized the theme “Cool 2 be Kind” and I’ve definitely seen the influence it has over all the campers, counselors, staff, and nature of the camp. Though it is impossible for me to list all the examples of kindness I’ve seen and experienced I’ll do my best. From day 1 my counselors have been extremely welcoming and helpful whether it be tying my friendship bracelet or helping me get more contacts they have truly heightened my experience here at camp. Moreover, the girls in my cabin have all been […]
“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 […]
Written by Christine Carter, Ph.D. I will never, not ever, forget the first time I dropped my kids off at Gold Arrow Camp. The drop-off didn’t go very well. When I was a kid, I begged and begged to go to sleep-a-way camp with my best friend, Rory. I did extra chores to earn it, and I counted the days until I got there. I don’t remember being homesick or sad at the drop-off. I remember feeling wild and free. I loved the horses and the outdoors and ceramics. I got postcards from my teachers. It was awesome. My kids had mixed feelings about going to camp that first year: they were excited, but also scared. “TWO WEEKS!?” my youngest cried when I told her what, to me, was great news: They were going to summer camp! “They have horses!” I said cheerfully, trying to drum up excitement. “And […]
The “favorite sport of the American Lumberjack” is rolling in to Gold Arrow Camp this summer, and we couldn’t be more excited! Key Log Rolling, recently developed by Abby Hoeschler and her team of engineers, is an exciting new activity that brings back the age old sport of log rolling. Yes, spinning on a floating log in the lake. Doesn’t that sound like so much fun?! Check out this video and see for yourself why we’re so excited for Key Log Rolling this summer:
No act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted. -Aesop I usually rush through the day thinking about what I need to get done and consumed by all the stuff that weighs on my time and my brain. And yet, being aware of those around me and doing a simple act of kindness can change the trajectory of my, and possibly someone else’s, day. I’ll never forget the time, at a camp reunion, when a former counselor told me a story I didn’t remember. She was cold one night, and I found her a blanket. Such a little thing, and yet, 15 years later, she remembered this as a significant act of kindness that impacted her. It really struck me that some of the little acts of kindness we do may be MUCH bigger than we think. We may not even remember them, but the act may be imprinted on […]
In order to grow, you need to challenge yourself by setting goals, stepping out of your comfort zone, and accomplishing something new. At Gold Arrow Camp, that’s what our campers do. Our counselors are trained to help kids set and reach personal growth and activity-related goals. There’s nothing quite like that feeling of accomplishment and achievement you get when you’ve reached a goal you’ve set for yourself, whether it be climbing to the top of the Rock Wall or, if you’re afraid of heights, even just reaching the half- way point. We love seeing kids reach the goals they set for themselves! See how some of these campers have grown at GAC: “One day my cabin had archery, which is my favorite activity. My goal this year was to get five bullseyes. I’ve done this before and wanted to achieve this again. I was doing really good and then I […]
Written by: Audrey “Sunshine” Monke, Camp Director at Gold Arrow Camp. Watching the campers construct fishing poles out of sticks and lanyard string, I had a revelation. Kids rarely get a chance to play like this any more. And, boy, are they good at it when they are given the opportunity! For the first time in many years, I went on a GAC backpacking trip last summer. Led by experienced and fun backpacking instructors, Cabin 0 and I enjoyed a fun-filled afternoon and overnight at Indian Falls before returning to camp the following morning. During the hike, we sang songs, did riddles, and talked as we walked. We took a break to play “Camouflage” at Indian Pools. One camper stood in a designated spot while the rest of us hid in the surrounding area. We had to be able to see the “Spotter,” who carefully looked around at the surrounding rocks, trees, and bushes […]
“Each day comes bearing it’s own gifts. Untie the ribbons.” – Ruth Ann Schaback grat•i•tude: a feeling of thankful appreciation for favors or benefits received; thankfulness Two years ago, we spent the whole summer learning to be more grateful. Our summer theme of gratitude led to a range of activities and discussions that continue to be a central part of the GAC culture. Why such a big focus on gratitude? Because strengthening their gratitude muscles is a great way to grow our campers’ happiness and is a skill we feel benefits them far beyond camp. We’ve learned through Dr. Christine Carter’s research on gratitude that “people who consciously practice gratitude are happier, more satisfied with their lives, and have fewer health complaints.” According to Dr. Carter, who is the author of Raising Happiness as well as a GAC parent and staff trainer, “people who practice gratitude are also more enthusiastic, […]
GAC Runners is the best kind of team, because we don’t have any practices, you can join us for any of our events or pick your own, run or walk any speed, and still have a great time being part of our team. Our running events give us the opportunity to connect during the non-summer months, and they help keep us fit and ready to swim, hike, and climb around camp in the summer! If you have a race or event you’ll be participating in, request your GAC Runners shirt and we’ll send it to you for free as long as you wear it at your event and send us a picture of you running. Our team members run all over the place – even in other countries! To request a shirt, go to our GAC Runners page and click on the “Join GAC Runners Now” link. We’ve had a great season […]
“No one can whistle a symphony. It takes a whole orchestra to play it.” -H.E. Luccock In this competitive, self-focused era, learning to be part of a team is a valuable skill that is not often taught to children (or adults!). Kids participate on many sports teams, but often that experience does not end up being a lesson in teamwork. Instead, sports teams often become a competitive experience of trying to get the position or play time they want as an individual. One reason for our focus on non-competitive programs is so that kids can learn new skills without feeling the pressure to win or be the best. We also want kids to learn to be part of a team (their cabin group) and be better team members. The experience of living with a group of diverse people in a cabin group is the first lesson in teamwork that […]
There are many things at GAC that are glorious, wonderful, and amazing. As you stand on the water front as the sunset lights the water, the sight takes your breath away. The glistening water is like silk made of glass, resting in its depths are smooth brown rocks where the fish swim. At home we wander, but here we are lost. Away from civilization. In touch with the simple life and simple pleasures. GAC is a place where you can just be. Thank you parents for giving us a break. Maybe even taking us back to an earlier time where kids can just be kids. Where we can make strong bonds and look at the miracle that the heavens have put before us. I hope you understand while you’re sitting at home on the couch watching television that there is a tangible paradise here. Thanks for letting us take a […]
Gold Arrow Camp By Madelyn, a 2014 Camper I love Gold Arrow Camp. I knew the minute I got on the bus for the very first time that I was going to learn a lot about myself, have a ton of fun and make lots of new friends. That first summer, I went with one of my best friends and we stayed for one week. It went by so fast and neither of us was ready for camp to end. We spent our days paddle boarding, horse back riding, kayaking, rock climbing and swimming. We spent our evenings around the campfire telling stories, making up songs and skits and eating s’mores… yumm. The counselors were amazing and all had nicknames that made me laugh. They were always there for us and kept us entertained and excited about camp life. The second summer I stayed for two weeks. It was awesome! […]
Camp friendships are a beautiful thing!
Five year camper Luci reflects on what she learns at GAC and why she loves coming back summer after summer. “At camp I grow and become someone who doesn’t judge a book by its cover. Spending time with someone you don’t know can be the path to friendship. When you are having fun and giving people chances I think that is the coolest thing and I think that is one of the many things I learn. Every time I leave camp I think that I learn something new about a person, and become a better person in my community. Camp helps me give back to my community.” Five year camper Luci with five year staff Cheerio in 2009 (left) and 2013 (right). Click here to see a video testimonial of why more five year campers keep coming back to GAC!
Here at Gold Arrow Camp we are huge proponents of being unplugged and enjoying the outdoors. In fact, being unplugged from technology (phones, computers, video games) and spending more time connecting with people face-to-face is one the benefits of coming to camp. We love technology and use it for many things, including posting photos from camp so parents can see the fun that’s going on. However, we believe it’s beneficial for us all to take a break from the technology around us. For a little more in depth of an answer, we put together this lovely infographic with Sunshine’s thoughts on five reasons why we should get unplugged, even when we’re not at camp. See Sunshine’s full article on unplugging here.
“Gold Arrow Camp has taught me to be brave and reach my goals. If it wasn’t for GAC, I wouldn’t be nearly as courageous as I am now.” – Remi Grit Grit has become the new buzz word in education and parenting thanks to Paul Tough’s best-selling book, How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character. Before we started using the word “grit,” we used words like “stick-to-itiveness” or persistence to describe this desirable character trait. Hard working and disciplined also fit into the description of a person with grit. I know it’s true that kids (and adults) need grit to succeed: to push past failures, to work hard at things they’re not good at, and to eventually find success. But how do we teach grit to a distinctively non-gritty kid (or dare-I-say generation?)- one who quits when something gets hard, who doesn’t want to try anything […]
By Connor Burke: I look down and see fifty feet separating myself from the ground and it shocks me to my core. I’m panting uncontrollably and desperately grab for the closest rope and grasp it with my hands drenched in sweat. I hear distant shouts from below as cabin mates cheer me on to progress farther through the ropes course, while I hesitate to move forward. I look back at the ground and wish I hadn’t as my stomach starts to become painfully nauseous and I feel the urge to vomit, I slowly creep closer inch by inch to the end platform which seemed like and unachievable goal. Stepping on this last platform gives me immediate satisfaction from joy that I hadn’t fallen to my death, I didn’t feel the need regurgitate the lunch I had just eaten, and my palms stopped dripping like a waterfall. Although the course was […]
Friends. Friendship. Confidence. Independence. Love of the outdoors. Outgoing. Social. Those are the words and phrases that show up over and over again in answer to the question, “How has your time at camp influenced you as a person?” on our Five-Year Camper survey. Conducted over the past two years, we’ve had almost 200 current and past campers respond to this and other questions about their time at GAC. Here are some of the many ways camp has influenced their lives: “Having started at Gold Arrow as a little seven year old I have grown up here. Camp has become my home away from home and I can honestly say it has shaped who I am today. It has given me confidence and taught me skills far beyond learning how to wakeboard or horseback ride. I am comfortable with myself, I am patient and I have learned how to become […]
I’ve often thought it would be great if all parents could go through the kind of training and orientation we provide our counselors. I’ve heard many times from past counselors that they learned a lot of their parenting techniques from working at camp! Here are a few ways to catch your child “doing the right thing.” Staying Positive Often, parents and teachers spend a lot of time focused on what they don’t want their children to be doing, instead of on what they do want them to be doing. At Gold Arrow Camp, we train our counselors in positive behavior management techniques. Here are three of the concepts we teach our counselors: “Catch Them Doing Something Right” Instead of looking for what a camper is doing incorrectly, we focus immediately on what they are doing well. When kids realize that we will notice the good stuff they do, they are […]
Written by Audrey “Sunshine” Monke for Gold Arrow Camp The best thing you can give your children, next to good habits, are good memories. -Sydney Harris Our home is overrun with more electronic gadgets than there are people. And, with our kids beyond the age where they ask for small toys, it’s difficult to think of a gift that is remotely needed other than new underwear and socks (not super exciting to unwrap, but they’ll get them anyway!). There is, of course, an onslaught of ads aimed at our kids, convincing them that there are still toys, clothes, and electronic gadgets they must have. My nine and eleven-year-olds are convinced they “need” mini iPads this year. They’d also like iPhones, but they know that’s not happening. Thinking back to my own childhood, I’m hard-pressed to remember many gifts I received. And there is only one that I still have and […]
Written by Audrey “Sunshine” Monke for Gold Arrow Camp “We think that even if your children have the academic skills they need – and we’re doing our best to make sure they do – if our young adults grow up and they don’t also have strong character skills, then they don’t have very much. Because we know that character is what keeps people happy and successful and fulfilled.” -Tom Brunzell, Dean of Students at KIPP Infinity (quoted in Tough’s book) I read Paul Tough’s latest book (How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character) with great interest as both a parent and as a youth development professional. Tough, a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine, shares a compelling series of narratives about research studies, a chess team, and various schools and programs that have figured out, through trial and error, how to help youth succeed. […]
Written by Audrey Monke for Gold Arrow Camp Anyone who’s been reading my blog knows that I’m a big proponent of getting kids “unplugged.” I love that they get two weeks of tech free time to focus on face-to-face relationships while they’re at camp. Unfortunately, I think many of them fall back into their same tech habits, and those of their parents, when they return home. Now I want to figure out how all of us — adults and kids — can learn how to use our technology optimally. How can we have our technology use contribute positively to our lives and not let it continue sucking our minutes, hours, and days from the people we love? Have you watched what happens at the end of the school day? Regardless of their age, kids get released from class and immediately pull out their electronic devices. Many immediately start texting. As […]
As parents of this generation, we have been told that great parenting means being super-involved with our children and always being in constant communication with them. We give them cell phones as soon as we feel they are ready to have a bit of independence, so that we can be assured that they will call us the minute they need us. There are many benefits to this parenting style. We know our kids well and have developed close family relationships. We also know each of their homework assignments (and assist with a few of them), the drills they did at soccer practice (because we either coached their team or stayed and watched), and what they ate for snack at school. The downside to our “helicopter” parenting, though, is it makes it difficult for our children to develop their independence, problem-solving, and decision-making skills. Hooray for camp! Without a cell phone […]
Written by Audrey Monke, Gold Arrow Camp “Do you have a one week session?” is one of the questions we often get asked by parents who are new to our program. The question is usually preceded or followed by the comment, “Two weeks is too long for my child.” I thought it would be helpful to outline for new parents why Gold Arrow Camp has a two-week session length as our primary camp offering. Although we also offer one-week specialty camp options at the beginning and end of the summer, Gold Arrow Camp’s core program is a two-week session, and that is the length of time the majority of our campers attend camp. We also have campers who are “Monthers,” who attend four weeks of camp by combining two two-week sessions. There are many benefits to camp, regardless of length of stay, as per the American Camp Association study. So, […]
It was my first time at a sleep away camp, and I’m sure it will change my life forever. -Zakai, 2012 Camper “You’re sending Sophia to camp for TWO WEEKS?” Shock is a common response camp parents get when discussing summer camp plans with other parents. Some people even infer that we are “bad parents” to allow our children out from under our direct supervision. In this “helicopter” parenting age, the thought of allowing an eight year old to go away to camp for two weeks is incomprehensible to people who don’t understand the value of camp. What these “non-camp” parents don’t know is that allowing your child a camp experience is a gift that has positive, life-long benefits beyond learning how to sail or rock climb. Camp parents aren’t bad parents who “send their children away.” Instead, we are great parents who let our children spread their wings! While […]
By Audrey “Sunshine” Monke At 99 years of age, Jeanie Vezie no longer has the physical energy and spring in her step that the campers and staff of Gold Arrow Camp remember from the 1960s and 1970s. But even at her reduced size and speed, Jeanie certainly hasn’t lost her mental agility, her sense of humor, or her vivid memory of her time at camp. For 30 years (1958-1988), Jeanie was part of the team “Manny and Jeanie,” who owned and operated Gold Arrow Camp and were loved by generations of campers and staff. Jeanie’s accomplishments at Gold Arrow were many. She brought her business sense and woman’s touch to camp, and helped Manny create a successful and world-renown summer camp. Gold Arrow Years Manny Vezie started Gold Arrow Camp in 1933 as a six-week program for boys. Sixty boys attended camp each summer at his remote site on Huntington […]
“The future will belong to the nature-smart—those individuals, families, businesses, and political leaders who develop a deeper understanding of the transformative power of the natural world and who balance the virtual with the real. The more high-tech we become, the more nature we need.” —Richard Louv GAC is unique among camps in offering our young campers the chance to hike, explore, and camp out in the wilderness. We are surrounded by beautiful trails and lakes in the John Muir and Kaiser wilderness areas. Depending on their age and ability, campers enjoy non-strenuous trips ranging from two to four miles one-way. Games are played along the way, and the pace is slow. Campers have fun trail mix (with chocolate!) and water bottles for snacking and drinking as they hike. Once at their camp sites, campers play, help cook dinner over the campfire, and get to experience living in nature. They also […]
Contribute to the GAC Blog Has your camper written about GAC in a school essay or poem? Do you have a great letter you received from your camper while they were at camp? We’d love to post our campers’ writing on the GAC Blog, so please send them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Written by Audrey Monke for Gold Arrow Camp 45 hours. That’s a conservative estimate of how much time I spent making my children’s lunches each school year. I used 15 minutes a day for my estimate, because I am not at my best in the early morning. I spent a lot of time staring at the lunch boxes, trying to remember what was still needed — fruit group? dairy? protein? After seeing my friend Stacey’s Facebook post last week, where she said she had “finished making lunches for the next two weeks,” I read further to see that she had made and frozen sandwiches. I remembered my mother doing the same thing when I was a kid. Mine were turkey and cheese on wheat, and they always were thawed and tasted great at lunch. I had an epiphany. I’m a big proponent of teaching kids independence and responsibility, so […]
Written by Audrey Monke for Gold Arrow Camp I just listened to this podcast and thought I’d pass it along. Nurse Rona Renner and Dr. Christine Carter have a great reminder for parents. Sometimes, we need to encourage our kids to do things, even when they are expressing discomfort, because of the growth that can occur for them. Since I had a “front row” seat to this story, I just want to say that Dr. Carter handled her daughter’s discomfort very well! When you’re faced with one of those moments as a parent when you have to decide, “Do I push this and make him/her try it or not?,” remember to think about the big picture of your child’s development. Many things that are good for our children are not easy or comfortable at first, so sometimes we have to be okay with our kids feeling uncomfortable, anxious, and unhappy […]
Written by Audrey Monke for Gold Arrow Camp In this competitive, self-focused era, learning to be part of a team is a valuable skill that is not often taught to children (or adults!). Kids participate on many sports teams, but often that experience does not end up being a lesson in teamwork. Instead, sports teams often become a competitive experience of trying to get the position or play time they want as an individual. One reason for our focus on non-competitive programs is so that kids can learn new skills without feeling the pressure to win or be the best. We also want kids to learn to be part of a team (their cabin group) and be better team members. The experience of living with a group of diverse people in a cabin group is the first lesson in teamwork that campers learn. Campers learn to work together to keep […]
Written by Audrey Monke for Gold Arrow Camp When my third daughter was born thirteen years ago, the warnings started coming in. “Girls are easier than boys when they’re little, but just WAIT until they’re teenagers! They’re SO hard.” Then, 2000 I heard horror stories about yelling, irrational behavior, eating disorders, anxiety, depression, and many other issues some parents faced with their teenage daughters. In preparation for the years to come (and to help our camp parents who already had teenage daughters), I attended talks on the topic and read many books about adolescence, including: Queen Bees & Wannabes (Rosalind Wiseman), Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls (Mary Pipher, Ph.D.), Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls (Rachel Simmons), The Romance of Risk: Why Teenagers do the Things They do (Lynn Ponton, M.D.), and The Price of Privilege: How Parental Pressure and Material Advantage […]
Written by Audrey Monke for Gold Arrow Camp According to Dr. Christine Carter in her booking Raising Happiness, “Ten-year-olds who are taught to think and interpret the world optimistically are half as prone to depression when they later go through puberty.” Wow! With the rising statistics on kids and adults who suffer from depression and anxiety, that’s a pretty powerful reason to focus on helping our kids be more optimistic! Carter recommends three ways parents (and counselors) can help kids be more optimistic: give affection; teach kids to cope with challenges and frustration; and model optimism ourselves. At camp, kids have ample opportunities to try new, often challenging activities. Learning to deal with the frustration of not being able to get up on water skiis on the first, second, third, or fourth try is a powerful lesson in both persistence and optimism. Our role is to help kids learn to […]
Written by Audrey Monke for Gold Arrow Camp As I parent, I’ve spent a lot of time focusing on making sure my children are getting a good education. I check to see that they are keeping up academically, that their school is challenging enough for them, and that they are getting a well-rounded education. I made sure to read aloud to them so that they’ll be good readers. Many of my conversations with other parents revolve around academics: what our children are or are not learning in school, how good their teachers are, and, now that my oldest are in high school, what they need to do to get into college. I believe that a good, solid education is going to provide my children with more opportunities for success as adults. I think most parents would agree. There are some other parenting priorities, however, that I think are sometimes overlooked […]
Written by Audrey Monke of Gold Arrow Camp “Being considerate of others will take your children further in life than any college degree.”-Marian Wright Edelman Being a considerate, kind person who thinks about others is a great character trait that helps children form friendships and leads to a happier life as an adult. In jobs and in future relationships, kindness will take our children “further in life than any college degree.” Children are not born knowing how to be kind. They learn it from watching their parents, peers, and mentors (like camp counselors!). By focusing on and praising kindness, we are encouraging children to “beef up” their kindness skills. No matter how kind a person already is, it never hurts to focus on thinking of others and saying and doing nice things for them. During the sessions, campers and counselors are encouraged to write down notes when they see others […]
Written by Audrey Monke of Gold Arrow Camp While friendship is always an integral part of camp and one of our big goals, we are encouraging our campers to be intentional about being good friends to each other and observant about what they appreciate about their friends. Some of the questions we ask campers to think and talk about are: What are the qualities of a good friend? How can I be a better friend? Who is being a good friend to me and how can I express my appreciation for them? Some of the specific skills our counselors will be looking for and helping develop in campers are: Listening Skills: The ability to listen with interest to a friend’s stories, jokes, and comments. Empathy: The ability to understand how your friend feels in a given situation, and express comforting and encouraging thoughts. Sharing: The willingness to share time and […]
Written by Audrey “Sunshine” Monke for Gold Arrow Camp “Children want to be independent, and they realize that they cannot be truly independent until they beat homesickness, even when they have a painful case of it.” –Michael Thompson, PhD., Homesick and Happy Recently I spoke with a mom whose 11-year-old son is coming to camp in a few days. He’s nervous. He had a negative experience at a one-week science camp. He doesn’t think he can “make it for two weeks” and is worried he’ll be too homesick to make it at camp. I chatted with the mom and gave her some key messages to communicate to her son. She asked for them in bullet points in an email, and I thought there are probably others who might benefit from this same list, so I’m sharing this with anyone who has a child suffering from pre-camp anxiety. Before I share […]
Our Vision: Gold Arrow Camp is a supportive community where lives are enriched through relationships and experiences. Written by Audrey Monke of Gold Arrow Camp At Gold Arrow Camp, we focus on being a community that is inclusive and warm. Our campers are expected to be respectful and kind to one another and to our staff. “Put downs” and other negative comments are not allowed. During training week, counselors learned about creating warm, fun, and welcoming environments in their cabin groups. Our goal is for campers to use positive language with each other. At their first cabin campfires, campers discussed their cabin’s code of conduct and agreed on how they are going to live with and treat each other to make sure that everyone has a positive experience at Camp. Helping others makes people happy. It feels good to share, to give, and to be kind to others. Sometimes in […]
Written by Audrey Monke, Director of Gold Arrow Camp Experience Nature: Fighting NDD and EA “Nature Deficit Disorder” (NDD), coined by Richard Louv, and “Electronics Addiction” (EA – coined by yours truly and others) can both be combated by a camp experience. When was the last time your kid hiked through the woods or got a mosquito bite? For that matter, when was the last time your child took out their headphones or turned off their cell phone? In Lenore Skenazy’s book, Free Range Kids, she elaborates on how we have somehow skewed parenting into something resembling packing our kids in bubble wrap and avoiding all experiences in order to avoid any negative ones. We live in fear of all the “what ifs” and end up not allowing our children any freedom. Electronics fill in the gap nicely. In Richard Louv’s book Last Child in the Woods, he talks about […]
This is a short clip from the Today show about six simple things parents can do to raise healthy teenagers. I especially liked the part about giving up electronics (parents, too!) for at least a week each year to spend time as a family! http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/26184891/vp/33987966#33987966
Presented by Audrey Monke, Director of Gold Arrow Camp I really enjoyed this article by Richard Louv. Like me, Louv is a huge proponent of getting kids OUTSIDE, in NATURE, and off those darn computers and phones! Camp Revival, by Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods
Written by Audrey Monke, Director of Gold Arrow Camp Kids Don’t Learn this at School So much of our focus as parents is on making sure our children get a good education, but schools can’t equip our kids with all of the skills they need to be happy, successful adults. Besides independence, camps also focus on modeling and teaching other important life skills. Here are some of the life skills campers say they learn at camp: “I learned… … to be responsible.” …I could do more than I thought, and I grew up a lot in two weeks.” …better leadership skills.” …different ways to get along with other campers.” …Believe in yourself. And try everything.” …how to interact with people better.” …to set a goal and achieve it.” …to face my fears and to just always have a good time.” …Approach someone. Don’t wait for them to approach you.” …to […]
Written by Audrey Monke, Director of Gold Arrow Camp “You’re sending Sophia to camp for TWO WEEKS?” Shock is a common response parents get when discussing sending their child to sleep-away camp. They often face criticism for allowing their young child out from under their direct supervision. In this over-involved parenting age, the thought of allowing an eight year old to go away to camp for two weeks is incomprehensible to many parents. What “non-camp” parents don’t understand is that allowing your child to have a camp experience is a gift that has positive, life-long benefits beyond learning how to sail or rock climb. Camp parents aren’t bad parents who “send their children away.” They are parents who see the value in letting their children have an experience that enriches their childhood. Parents who went to traditional summer camps as children themselves are much more likely to send their children […]
Written by Audrey Monke for Gold Arrow Camp This week I’ve been going through the many boxes of letters, photos, and memorabilia which I have collected over my first four decades. It’s been a time-consuming task, but I’m trying to organize into a smaller number of boxes what has been accumulated over the first half of my life. What has struck me most is the huge number of letters I amassed from my childhood, high school, and college friends. Until this week, I didn’t remember how much we corresponded, but I just finished going through hundreds of letters. I now have proof of the many friendships that were solidified over hours of writing to one another. Of course, I mostly have the ones written to me, but I can assume from the “Thanks for your letter”s that I was writing at the same rate as my friends were. Maybe […]
Written by Audrey Monke for Gold Arrow Camp Parenting Challenge #3: Everything’s a Competition From the first conversation about whose child learned to walk or talk first, parenting today (and life in general) seems to have become one giant competition. Who’s in the top reading group? Who made the “A” soccer team? Who’s top of the class? Who got elected class president? Who got picked for cheer leading? In trying to help our kids keep up, and leave opportunities open for them, we often end up pushing too hard for our kids to do well in too many areas. Many kids are taking challenging course work at school, competing on high level sports teams with demanding practice schedules, learning a musical instrument, and being involved in clubs (to make sure they are “well rounded”). Often, finding something they are passionate about or truly enjoy goes on the back burner. With […]
Parenting Challenge #2: Helping Kids Become Independent Adults Written by Audrey Monke for Gold Arrow Camp Whether due to parenting trends (“helicoptering”) or being so connected to our kids (both in our close relationships and via our digital leashes), children are much less independent than we were at the same age. Twenty years ago, we were babysitting infants at age 13. Now, some of us hire babysitters for our 13 year olds! Ironically, kids are experimenting with drugs, sex, and other high-risk behaviors younger than ever, possibly as a result of feeling so little independence and control in their own lives. College freshman are struggling to adjust to being away from home, and many who start school away from their parents end up back at home. Colleges have staff dedicated to orienting and communicating with parents, who are closely involved from the application process right through to job interviews post […]
Parenting Challenge #1: Too Much Screen Time, Not Enough Outside Time Written by Audrey Monke for Gold Arrow Camp • Too much screen time, not enough outside time. • Helping kids become independent adults. • Everything’s a competition. • Good friends are hard to find. In today’s digital, fast-moving, ultra-competitive world, raising kids who grow into healthy, happy, well-adjusted, independent adults has become more challenging for parents. Gold Arrow Camp offers a traditional camp experience which many parents have found to benefit their child’s development of important life skills. In partnership with parents who are focused on their child’s healthy development, Gold Arrow Camp offers a positive, child-focused outdoor camp program that counteracts some of the negative experiences children are facing in school, sports, social life, and cyber space. Gold Arrow Camp took my city kid, who could barely ride a bike, and returned a sailing, camping, climbing, in love […]
The Blessing of the Least Favorite Activity Written by: Audrey “Sunshine” Monke Wendy Mogel’s best selling book, The Blessing of a Skinned Knee, resonated with me. I can relate much of her message to camp and to my own family. I heard Dr. Mogel speak at a camp conference several years ago, and she continues to be active in the camp community. Many of our camp parents have heard her speak at school parenting events or have read her book. If you haven’t had a chance to read The Blessing of a Skinned Knee, I highly recommend it. In addition to sharing about the importance of letting our kids take healthy risks, and not always rescuing them from failure, Mogel gives many other valuable insights. She has recognized the value of camp experiences in the development of emotionally healthy kids, as you can read in the article “Camp Blessings” on […]
History Gold Arrow was founded in 1933 by Manny Vezie, a former Notre Dame football player under legendary coach, Knute Rockne. Manny found a desire to start his own summer program through his experiences working at a camp in Wisconsin during his college years. After his death in 1985, Jeanie Vezie, Manny’s wife and co-director for over 30 years, continued to operate Gold Arrow. In 1989, Jeanie sold the camp to former camper and staff member Audrey Kremer Monke. Today, Gold Arrow Camp is directed by Audrey and Steve Monke. They have a commitment to the development of children, and to maintaining the traditions that have made Gold Arrow one of the finest traditional camps in the United States for over seven decades. Gold Arrow Camp has attracted children from all over the United States and from several foreign countries. Many campers are the children or grandchildren of former participants. […]
Packing Tips Packing for camp is the start of your child’s independent camp experience. Please have your child participate in packing for camp so that he/she knows where to find their clothing and other items. Campers who don’t participate in packing often don’t know what they have or where to find things at camp, which makes it harder to get acclimated to camp. Click HERE for the PDF formatted packing list. Luggage • For our two-week (and longer) sessions, we recommend campers pack in two pieces of luggage. One larger piece (soft-sided trunk or footlocker) can be used for most of the camper’s clothing. A smaller duffle bag can be used for sleeping bag, pillow, and other equipment that doesn’t fit in the main piece of luggage. The smaller duffle bag will be used for travel to and from Shaver Lake. For campers traveling by air and coming with only […]
Interested in sending your child to GAC for a future summer? Come spend a day at Gold Arrow Camp, and give your child the chance to sample camp while you see camp “in action.” Interested in GAC? Tour dates for summer, 2012, are: Saturday, June 30, Saturday, July 14, Saturday, July 28, and Saturday, August 11. http://ow.ly/9esAW http://ow.ly/i/tokU
Friends: Finding Gold in a Plastic Era Written by: Audrey “Sunshine” Monke Michael Thompson’s statement stuck with me long after I attended his session on the social lives of millennial children at a recent American Camp Association conference. I would go even farther and say that friendship is not just the gold of childhood, but also of life. And, unfortunately, our culture is not currently supporting the development of healthy, solid friendships between kids. Friendship is more important than any academic subject or athletic skill, and yet the way our kids spend their time does not reflect this importance. For many kids, there simply isn’t time in their lives for developing strong, close friendships. Click this link to view some Gold Arrow Camp Camper testimonials. What are our kids learning about friendship in this Facebook and texting era of “friends?” Many boast hundreds, even thousands of “friends.” Yet some of […]
Gold Arrow Camp is celebrating 79 years of tradition, friendship and fun this summer! This is your opportunity to experience GAC as a family while taking a break from technology. The weekend will be filled with good ‘ol camp songs around the campfire, fun activities on the lake, and sharing special memories with family and friends. Family camp will run from Friday, August 24th through Monday, August 27th. Tuition includes lodging in an on-site tent cabin, all meals, and activities offered throughout the weekend. Lodging is also available at China Peak Inn, located directly across the street from Gold Arrow Camp, for people wanting a less rustic experience. Take 10% off your total camp tuition if staying in the China Peak Inn. If staying at China Peak, please make direct reservations with the Inn. To register your family for Family Camp, please click the “Enroll Now” button at the bottom […]
It’s time once again for us to design new GAC postcards and note cards. We’re looking for camper drawings and paintings that depict camp scenes and activities. Please mail us your artwork on an 8 1/2” x 11″ piece of white paper by Thursday, March 15th, 2012. A special prize will be sent to all who submit a picture! http://ow.ly/i/tohh http://ow.ly/9esa8
Written by Audrey “Sunshine” Monke When I read in Stanford Magazine about the research being done about the negative impact of time spent online, it gave me even more reasons to celebrate that Gold Arrow Camp gives kids an extended period of “unplugged” time. Researchers at Stanford (and I’m sure elsewhere) are investigating what many of us intuitively know – all this time spent online is not good for us! What’s most frightening is that we don’t know the full impact online time is having on our kids. It’s not just their excessive online time that’s a problem, but also the time we parents spend online. How many things are we NOT doing because we’re online? And what kind of role modeling are we providing? I think it’s down time, conversations with family, reading, and the pursuit of other fulfilling hobbies that suffer when we don’t turn off our phones […]
Calling all artists! It is time, again, for us to design new GAC postcards and note cards. We are looking for camper drawings and paintings that depict camp scenes and activities. Please mail us your artwork on an 8 1/2” x 11” piece of white paper by March 15. A special prize will be sent to all who submit a picture! Mail entries to: Gold Arrow Camp 644 Pollasky Avenue Suite 100 Clovis, CA 93612
“Because I love it here. It’s my favorite place on Earth.” -2011 Camper Why do YOU want to come back to GAC next summer?
Gifts for kids that last. http://ow.ly/3rJuk
One of my parenting role models is a fictional animal. She’s the lead character in the children’s book The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes, which was written by Du Bose Heyward in 1939. I can see why the book was written in 1939. No one today would write a book like this one. The Country Bunny is a typical female bunny – a single mom with A LOT of children (21 to be exact). She’s an ordinary bunny who dreams of being selected as one of the five special bunnies who gets to deliver Easter eggs. All the other bunnies doubt her ability to do the job, because they think, “How on earth can this ordinary, single mom bunny with all these kids possibly take on this big responsibility?” (my own quote, not from book!) Well, my country bunny mom hero sets out to prove the doubters wrong. […]