My School In Motion, founded by camp parent Apryl Krakovsky, is a program designed to get school communities moving and learning every day. Their videos are fun exercise routines for kids and adults that incorporate positive messaging about health, wellness, and nutrition.
“My School In Motion, Inc.’s mission is to provide all students, regardless of race or socioeconomic status, with an early positive physical activity experience, while at the same time educating them in the areas of nutrition, fitness and wellness, and empowering them to make smart choices today and in the future. We want to ensure that students have the best start to every school day and set them on a path for a lifetime of health, productivity and happiness.”
We are lucky enough to be able to share some of My School In Motion’s exercise routines to you in your home! Do these routines with your family and enjoy the fun you have with them!
Movement Routines: Good Life, Boom Boom Pow, I Like to Move It, PB & Jelly Time
Movement Routines: PB & Jelly Time, Who Let the Dogs Out, Cupid Shuffle
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 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, especially by kids who haven’t yet been to GAC, is “What if I don’t want to do an activity?” Sometimes it starts with a statement, “I don’t like horses. Do I have to do that activity?”
My short answer is, “You won’t be forced to do any activities, but you will still go with your group, and you will be encouraged to try.”
I think there are three main reasons kids don’t want to do a particular activity, and they are the same reasons why adults often choose to forgo some recreational options:
Falling off a horse, being dragged behind a ski boat and not getting up, or getting lost on a hike are all examples of negative experiences that make a person naturally inclined not to want to try again.
Fear of being humiliated. Fear of failure. Fear of heights. Fear of deep lake water. Fear of rocks. Fear of going to the bathroom in the woods. Fear of getting hurt. The list goes on and on.
It’s not in their normal repertoire of things they like and/or are good at.
I’m sure there are other reasons for kids to not want to do an activity, but these are three that readily come to mind from what campers have told me over the years. Interestingly, the reasons kids don’t want to do an activity are the very reason for trying the activity and may be the best thing that happens at camp for that camper.
If a child doesn’t want to do an activity because of a previous negative activity, trying it at camp could lead to either a changed mind (and a new activity they like) or, at the very least, a not-as-negative experience to remember.
If a camper doesn’t want to do an activity because of fear, then trying the activity could be the most life-changing event that occurs for that camper during their camp stay. Overcoming fears and challenging oneself to attempt something that seems impossible can lead to great feelings of accomplishment and improved confidence. With the support and encouragement from cabin mates and counselors, campers feel on top of the world after successfully trying something they feared. For the camper with a fear of heights, climbing half-way up the ladder on the high ropes course will be celebrated as a huge accomplishment, and one that can make him/her proud. This is an example of something hard that leads to something good, a theme that Dr. Mogel stresses. The camp environment offers a supportive place for kids to learn how to overcome fears and accomplish things they didn’t think were possible.
If a camper doesn’t want to do an activity because they don’t think they’ll like it based on their preferences or perception of themselves, trying something different offers an opportunity for expanded confidence. A camper who sees himself as non-athletic and more adept at target sports may shy away from the more physical activities, yet trying and accomplishing them could change his perception of himself in a positive way. A camper who likes shopping and clothes and sees herself as not an “outdoorsy” kind of person may dread going on a backpacking trip. Yet, the experience of cooking and sleeping outdoors could lead to an expanded view of herself and an appreciation for the many different facets of a personality. Sometimes, the activity a camper thought would be their least favorite becomes a favorite!
So, when a camper tells us all the reasons why they “don’t want to” or “can’t” do an activity this summer, we will continue to encourage them to “give it a try,” because we know the hidden blessings in the least favorite activity.
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 reaching their goals and encouraging others. Participating in activities as a cabin group allows campers to take risks and push themselves in a safe, supportive environment. Through watching cabin mates overcome fears and accept new challenges, campers learn resilience and empathy. Everyone’s role in the group is necessary, and the Group Counselor serves to build and enhance the supportive community so that the cabin group feels like a family.
The third activity period of the day, called “Free Time,” gives campers an opportunity to sign up for activities as individuals. Campers can try special activities that are only offered during this period or return to an activity they enjoyed with their cabin group.
You can find out more information on activities offered at Gold Arrow Camp here.
Today was a special day for Soy because he got to have one of his best camp friends on the POG. Tank, who worked alongside Soy on the operations team at camp and who is a vital part of Morning Assembly, joined the POG-Cast from Vail, Colorado to talk about coming to camp, living in the mountains, and the most requested song at dances and Morning Assembly. There’s a superhero-themed Joke of the Cast and Ralph Waldo Emerson provided the GACspiration.
Most tangible, material gifts we give our children, spouse, and friends are outdated, broken, lost, or unused within months of the gifting. We can rarely remember what the gifts from past years even were.
Like most parents, I realize there are far more important gifts we give our children than the ones we wrap in December for Christmas or Hanukkah. This time of year is a great time to remind ourselves that the gifts that last are the ones that can’t be wrapped: gifts of time together and connection and of fun family memories.
As my dad’s favorite coffee mug says, “The best things in life aren’t things.”
In the spirit of this season of giving, here are a few (mostly) non-toy gift ideas. I hope you get some great ideas for each of your kids, and maybe the adults in your life, too!
Game nights produce memories (good and bad), so maybe consider giving a group gift of a new game to play this holiday season.
We have probably gotten the most mileage of family activity time from our basketball hoop, ping pong table, and trampoline. These are “big” group gifts that got the most mileage in both years and quality time together. So, if you have more than one child, consider one “WOW” gift that will get a lot of use. When our kids were little, a few of the most popular group gifts were a large whiteboard and a gymnastics mat. Both got many hours (and years!) of use.
I know families who have “date nights” with each of their children. I love the idea and would like to work it into my gift giving this year. One child may want a lunch date, while another prefers a bike ride or a game of tennis. In any case, spending time with our kids, doing something they want to do with us, is a gift indeed (for both them and us). Time seems to be the hardest gift to give, but it is also most highly valued by the recipient. How about creating a gift coupon for a date that would be special for your child?
These can be costly, but one popular gift we’ve given our teenagers is concert tickets. Wrapping up the ticket in a gift bag with a ribbon makes it a “real” gift.
Subscriptions to magazines, Book of the Month, music lessons, or classes are always a great way to give a gift that kids enjoy all year long! If a child has an interest in something specific and would enjoy an outing, consider researching a class or exhibit and creating a coupon or certificate to present to them. One year, I gave my daughter a one-day photography class using a local Groupon, and we had a great Saturday together in January learning how to use all the settings on our cameras.
Anything you do as a family creates memories and is a gift that will be remembered. Whether it’s a movie and popcorn night at home or a walk through the neighborhood to see the holiday lights, the gift of time as a family is so important to our kids. When we don’t default to our phones, computers, and TVs, it’s amazing what we discover there is to do!
Like many of my gift suggestions, this one requires time. I love recording and recounting memories (my 36,059 photos on iPhoto prove it). My kids never get tired of hearing stories from when they were little or watching our scant supply of digitized home videos from when they were toddlers. One of my favorite gifts from my husband was a hard drive with all of our family movies digitized on it. We have had hours of entertainment watching our old home movies.
Take some time this holiday to get out the old photos (or pull them up on the screen using the cool new technology) and create a book or collage or slideshow together. We also like to list our “Top 100 Memories” of the year over the holidays. It’s fun to reflect on what we’ve done together and what’s happened over the year.
For something to wrap, gifting books is always a great option, especially when I’m excited to have found one I have enjoyed myself and think the recipient will enjoy. And, although books are a material item, a good book has a much longer lifespan than most toys or electronic devices. Passing along a favorite, loved book (even if it’s well-used), inscribed with a personal message, is a fun gift idea. Or, giving a fresh copy of one of your favorite books or series that you enjoyed at your child’s age is a meaningful gift.
Books have the potential to be re-read, passed around, and enjoyed by many. They can take on a life of their own. While most books can be read on an e-reader or borrowed from the library, there are some that your child may value having in their personal library. When you give a book gift, be sure to inscribe the book with a note with the child’s name, the occasion the book is being given, the year, and your name. Who knows the mileage that book will have?
Another fun idea is listening to a book together on a holiday drive! Check out some fun family book listens on Libro.fm!
Having your name or initial on an item makes it feel extra special and shows that thought and time went into the selection.
Some of my favorite personalized gifts to give and to receive over the years have included:
Monogrammed towels, key chains, luggage
Letters of appreciation
Recipe & ingredients to cook something
Instructions & supplies for a science experiment
Supplies (and offer of your time) for a craft: wood working, needlework, sewing, painting, lettering, welding, etc.
I’ll “wrap up” my gift-giving suggestions with one of my favorites (predictably, since you’re reading this on our blog), the gift of a session at camp! The gift of camp lasts a lot longer than any toy. Campers learn life skills, such as social skills, independence and responsibility, while having the time of their lives.
Many grandparents or parents give camp as their child’s big gift for the holidays. Especially for kids who have been to camp before, this is a gift they really appreciate. I like the idea of wrapping up the “You’re going to camp!” note with a campy item like a water bottle, camp t-shirt, beanie, sleeping bag, or disposable camera.
With our kids now beyond childhood, we opted last year (for the first time) to forgo the major gift giving and instead had a fun trip over the holidays be our big gift. We went to Costa Rica and took surfing lessons!
Instead of running out to a bunch of stores and wearing out the UPS truck with daily deliveries (both of which I have decades of experience doing), this season I will take a few minutes to think about each family member and friend and decide what would be a special, meaningful item I can give them or experience I can offer.
I wish you a stress-free holiday season where you can focus less on acquiring more stuff and more on creating fun family memories.
Audrey “Sunshine” Monke, Chief Visionary Officer of Gold Arrow Camp, is an author, speaker, and podcaster. You can find more of her writing and resources at her website, Sunshine Parenting. Her book, Happy Campers: 9 Summer Camp Secrets for Raising Kids Who Become Thriving Adults, is available wherever books are sold.
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.
“Being a part of OLC has influenced my life after camp because it taught me how to be a leader and being a part of a high school swim team, being a leader is a big part of staying together as a team.” – Sophia, OLC Participant
After arriving at camp, OLC participants receive leadership training before departing on the backpacking trip. They do exercises in team building, learn conflict resolution techniques, and practice positive communication. While in the wilderness, campers have the opportunity to learn and practice map and compass navigation, outdoor cooking, Leave No Trace principles and ethics, sustainable backcountry living, and wildlife biology.
All OLC participants serve as “Leader of the Day,” which means they use navigational skills to determine which path to take, when to stop for breaks, and what to do about any situations that arise while hiking. At the end of the day, the “Leader of the Day” receives feedback from trip leaders and peers.
Achieving independence is essential to making the transition to adulthood, and participating in challenging outdoor program with other teens is a perfect way to develop the self efficacy needed to feel confident away from home. The hard skills learned during the OLC — navigation, outdoor cooking, wilderness first aid, camping, and hiking — require independence, curiosity, and creative problem solving.
“I really enjoyed getting to discover myself in the woods, thinking and hiking and communicating with my fellow campers.” – Blake, OLC Participant
Effective communication is arguably the most important of all life skills. Trained trip leaders use positive guidance to facilitate reflection, dialogue and group discussion throughout the program. Leaders encourage campers to think about what happened that day, what their successes and challenges were, and how to grow from those experiences. At the end of the course, all OLC participants have improved communication skills with peers and counselors.
Research shows that wilderness courses are well-suited to teach outdoor skills, self-confidence in general and confidence during adversity. Participation in an outdoor leadership program have a positive impact on emotional intelligence, specifically on stress management and adaptability. All OLC participants set personal and group goals before leaving on the backpacking portion of the course and work to accomplish those goals throughout the session with the help, direction, and encouragement of trip leaders.
A multi-day backpacking trip through the rugged terrain of the High Sierra has days that tax participants both mentally and physically. In the Outdoor Leadership Course, teens learn to push through challenges through encouragement from their trip leaders, supportive group dynamics, and building their self leadership. While surrounded by their peers, they learn just how far they can push themselves. They learn, literally, that they can climb mountains. After their OLC accomplishments, finding a way to make it to sports practice or finishing up a college admissions essay seem easy.
OLC participants are responsible for managing their equipment, completing tasks carefully and on time, admitting their role in mistakes, and working to correct those mistakes. The OLC equips campers to take the initiative to make their own decisions, fulfill obligations, and grow from their experiences.
In addition to the skills OLC participants learn and the growth they experience from the program, there is something else that too many teens don’t have the time to find; genuine face to face FUN!
“What I enjoyed about the OLC was that every day was different, some days we would do longer hikes, and others we would have a lot of time to relax and the enjoy the people and scenery. One of my favorite days out in the backcountry was when we hiked about 5 miles and then hung out in a river for the rest of the afternoon, and then made quesadillas for dinner. The food was always amazing, and there was always plenty to eat. My favorite lunch was probably Nutella and English muffins. We had a lot of Nutella.” – Charlotte, OLC Participant
If you have any questions or would like to know more, visit the Outdoor Leadership Course page, email us, or give us a call at 1-800-554-2267 ex. 0.
Join Audrey “Sunshine” Monke and Sara Kuljis for a 1-Day LIVE parenting workshop in Newport Beach, California.
• Creating the Family Culture You Want by learning how to move your actions closer to your values and determining what kind of family you want to build.
• Raising Successful, Thriving Kids means defining what success for your kids looks like, what character traits you seek to foster, and how to help them become thriving adults.
• Building Your Positive Parenting Toolbox that includes skills like Authoritative Parenting, Connection Before Correction, Play & Fun, and the Power of Affirmation.
• Loving The Child You Have by harnessing the power of Positive Language – Behavior Management, Calming Skills for Ourselves & Our Kids – Internal Chatter, Empathy, and Compassion.
• A binder full of parenting resources and activities to support you in raising thriving kids
• Four follow-up group Zoom coaching calls with Audrey and Sara
• Discussions & advice that will improve your parenting and make your family life happier and more connected
“Big Campfire” is a highlight of the session for campers here at GAC. At Big Campfire, each cabin group performs a skit, song, or dance. The evening provides a fun opportunity for kids to work together to provide a fun, entertaining performance for the community.
Our younger campers (Bears & Tigers) celebrated Big Campfire on Saturday evening, and our older kids (Lions & Eagles) had their Big Campfire on Monday evening. Here are a few highlights from this session’s Big Campfires:
Today was carnival day at GAC! Ring toss, cotton candy, splash zone, nachos! As always, this afternoon was a blast for all campers and staff!
A highlight of the two-week session for our youngest campers (grades K-3), and their version of backpacking, is Bears’ Adventure. This one-night trip allows campers to experience sleeping outdoors under the stars and cooking over a campfire. Campers’ luggage is taken for them to the campsite, so they are not technically “backpacking,” because they have no pack to carry. With just their water bottle and their positive attitudes, they set out from camp singing and talking on their hike.
The best part of Bears Adventure is the free time kids get to play and explore the area. For many campers, the longer sticks provide the perfect start to a fort. Others enjoy laying on their sleeping bags talking with friends or silently watching clouds move overhead. Some participate in crafts and games while enjoying being outdoors. For many of these kids, Bears’ Adventure is their first experience “roughing it,” and they absolutely love it.
When they hike back into camp the morning after their Adventure, our Bears’ campers stand a little taller. And their dirty, smiling faces are the best indication that they have experienced the awe of nature.