How to Help Camper Homesickness
December 10th, 2018 by Matthew Abel, Camp Director of YMCA Camp Pendalouan
Homesickness is a major concern when sending a child to camp. Not only for parents, but camp directors as well! It's a tough phone call to make when it has become too much an impediment for the camper. However, this is one part of the camp experience parents can help prepare their children for.
Overnight camp is a huge achievement for a child. The personal pride that builds after successfully spending a week away from home is incredible. As with any achievement, practice can help perfect the skill. Staying away from home may not seem like a skill, but providing children with opportunity to stay away from their guardians for a night or two prior to an overnight camp helps them practice. Staying with other relatives or friends gives them a base of confidence - they learn they can stay away from home.
Choosing a camp helps as well. Most camp directors are biased about which camp is the best, but letting the child help choose gives them a sense of ownership. It becomes "their" camp far more easily - they won't want to give it up quickly. Most camps offer preview days throughout the year for this reason.
Once practice has started and a camp is selected, language becomes very important. Some parents want their child to feel safe and tell them they will come pick them up. This can crack a child's confidence. Letting the child know they will be missed is important, but so is setting the expectation that you will be picking them up after their session is over. It creates more confidence in the child - they believe in themselves because their guardian does.
It's also helpful to discuss correspondence with the camp. Figure out if letters make sense or if there is some sort of email system in place. Phone calls can often hasten homesickness - camp directors will give parents a call if needed and determine if it may help or hinder a child for whom homesickness has taken hold.
Homesickness is a real concern. We always let kids know missing home is normal for everyone, that they can have fun and succeed in a week at camp. A plan to help prepare your camper for their time away from home, so they enter their cabin with confidence, is one of the strongest pieces of the parent-camp team. Once your camper arrives, the counselors will keep them engaged and happy.
This blog was contributed by Matthew Abel, camp director of YMCA Camp Pendalouan. Find out more about the camp in our camp listings or by visting them at http://www.pendalouan.org/.
Go and Do
July 15th, 2016 by Erica Thomas
"If you want to make a difference in someone's life, you don't need to be gorgeous, rich, famous, brilliant, or perfect. You just have to care."
This summer, Camp Henry invites you to explore what it means to Go and Do. As you come to camp, our hope is for you to be encouraged to extend God's love and grace through your passions and individual gifts.
Much of our inspiration for this theme comes from the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37). We are motivated by the acts of this ordinary Samaritan who went out of his way to care for a stranger in need. What really catches our attention are the two high rulers of the church who passed by this man on the side of the road before the Samaritan arrived.
Jesus later asks "which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man...?"
The expert in law replied "The man who was kind to him."
Jesus told him, "Go and do likewise"
Who, in your life, inspires and motivates you to be the best version of yourself? Your parents? Your teacher? Coach? Counselor? Dog? Whoever it is, continue to discover why that is and go and do likewise so that you can be an inspiration to others in need.
Through simple actions of being generous, choosing joy, and accepting others, you will easily get a glimpse of what it means to live in the image of Christ.
We are so excited for this summer and cannot wait to have you here!
What I Ike Ikus Means To Me
June 8th, 2016 by Megan Lougheed
It has been such a great pleasure and joy working here at Indian Trails Camp! March marked my two year anniversary from when I first started. The decision to switch jobs was a tough one as I really did enjoy my previous job but I couldn’t be happier with the decision that I made.
It has been such an amazing couple of years! Each day I am happy to come to work, I don’t think many people get to say that and truly mean it. I have met so many amazing people, get to work with incredible staff and build friendship with coworkers and campers alike.
Each day brings new and exciting challenges, I am able to grow and learn, teach and train each day somehow being better than the last.
As we are in the hiring process for our 2016 summer camp staff I get excited sharing why I love Indian Trails Camp when the question is asked, which it often is, but I get even more excited as we hire people, knowing that they are going to have a fantastic, memorable and life-changing summer/experience. It is inevitable.
Here’s to 2016 at ITC being the best year yet! I Ike Ikus, nobody like us, we are the camp of ITC!
Blessings & Love,
Camp Director & Respite Coordinator
Thank you to Megan at Indian Trails Camp & IKUS Life Enrichment Services for sharing this blog post. Click here to learn more about Indian Trails Camp.
"Our Mission here at Indian Trails Camp & IKUS Life Enrichment Services is to provide individuals with disabilities an enriched life experience through recreation, advocacy and meaningful relationships."
Summer Camp Season Begins
June 6th, 2016 by Nicole Winter
When the doors to your child’s school close for the summer, will you have enough plans in mind to keep him or her busy, active, and engaged? Why not consider a West Michigan summer camp?
Summer camps offer mental stimulation and physical activity while fostering independence, creativity, and confidence. As a parent, there are many questions to consider before choosing the right camp for your child. This website offers a guide to the camps held in West Michigan, detailing their programs, costs, financial assistance opportunities, and more.
View our Camp Directory to find the camp that is right for your family. Discover answers to all of your questions with our FAQ page. Contact camp leaders for more information about camps of interest to you.
It's Summer Camp Season!
June 3rd, 2015 by
Each summer, youth from across West Michigan leave home for the experience of a lifetime—summer camp. As a parent, there is much to consider when it comes to choosing the right camp program for your child. This website is intended to help you learn about the camps and programs offered in West Michigan, along with providing the information and resources necessary to make the dream of summer camp a reality for your child.
Get started by viewing our camp guide. We're sure you will find something that meets your child's needs, and more!
Through the Eyes of My 10-year-old Self
August 6th, 2014 by Daniel VandeBunte, Camp Geneva
My adventures here at Camp Geneva begin as a little kid about to leave home for something unknown. For me, that consisted of hopping onto a huge double-decker bus for my first day of Day Camp. Once I tasted a week at camp, I was hooked. The amazing experiences continued on Shores with songs and skits, Bible studies, color wars, lanyard making, and my personal favorite- counselor hunt!
Although all of the activities were fun and memorable, the real reason I was drawn to camp was the people… the counselors. I had never seen a group act so crazy and energetic. I had never seen a group live with such love and joy. The people are what make camp such an incredible place.
Day Camp, Shores, and Pines were all a part of my childhood, but it wasn’t until my last summer on Pines when I felt my faith mature and become more personal. A strong moment that sticks with me from that week of camp was a game called “Romans and Christians”. It is a game that challenges students to verbalize what they believe and why they believe it. I had never been asked to articulate my faith like that before and I remember laying awake in bed that night (way past bed time) thinking about what my God and my life meant to me. It was strangely uncomfortable, but I loved it.
A few weeks ago, I was cleaning out shelves in my room and stumbled across an old math book from fourth grade. I threw it away, but my mom happened to find an essay about Camp Geneva inside (pictured below). The paper helped me refocus Camp Geneva through the eyes of my 10-year-old self. Now that I’m an actual counselor here, things have really come full circle. I realize that everything we do here is for the kids. It is about showing them the love of Christ and inspiring a spirit-filled life. I used to look up to my counselors as some type of superhuman college student, but I realize now that I am in that position, that I am nothing; God is everything. I wouldn’t have made it past day one on my own.
Camp fires, group sing-alongs, swimming and more can only mean one thing - Summer Camp Season has arrived!
June 5th, 2012 by By GRCF
Getting ready to send your child off to summer camp can be nerve-racking, difficult and exciting for all.
The experience may be completely new for your family, or it may be an old summer routine, either way, you and your loved ones are in for a day, a week or a whole summer of fantastic moments.
So, what do you do now?
“It is important to prepare your child for a camp experience, whether it is for a one-week sleep away camp near your town or a four-week camp out-of-state,” said Myra Pravda, RN, MSN at offtocamp.com.
Some tips and tricks of the trade:
- Go over the daily schedule with your child so there are no surprises.
- Learn as much as you can about camp life – for your own mindset and for your child.
- Send letters before camp begins so mail is waiting when he/she arrives.
- Don't buy expensive clothing for camp because clothes tend to get dirty, torn, scratched, grass stains, etc.
- Put the camper's name on everything from clothes to toothpaste.
- Send along pictures of your family and pets so your child can show them to his/her bunk mates.
- Pack some of your child's favorite pre-packaged goodies.
- Prepare yourself for your child going off to camp.
For more on Choosing a Camp, Preparing for Camp, Packing Tips and Camp Health – checkout these helpful Blogs and Websites:
Gearing up for the summer at Camp Blodgett
May 23rd, 2012 by GRCF
Camper registrations are already arriving at Camp Blodgett for summer camp 2012 and the hiring of summer staff is underway. With six camp sessions planned for the summer there will be space for more kids than in past years.
“Even with signs of an improving West Michigan economy there are still over 30,000 kids from Kent County families feeling a financial pinch," said Susan Doughty, Camp Blodgett’s Program Director. "So, we feel the pressure to expand our summer capacity. The challenge now is to get the word out to the families that there are summer programs that are affordable for everyone.”
The fee for a 5-day residential camp session at Camp Blodgett starts at $35 for kids who are eligible for free or reduced cost lunch at school. Plus, there are discounts for early registration and for students who had good grades and attendance during the school year.
“If you have C’s and above for the current school year to date, you get $10 off your fee," said Doughty. "Straight A’s earns a $25 discount."
Registration forms are available on the camp website at www.campblodgett.org and at the camp’s Grand Rapids office at 1545 Buchanan Avenue SW.
Call 616-940-9874 for more information.
Incorporating Faith & Fun: How a Summer Camp Experience Can be a Milestone in a Child's Faith Journey
May 9th, 2012 by Ashleigh Munch, Program Director at Camp Henry
If you are anything like me, you might have had a tough time sitting through church as a kid and you didn’t quite make the connection of how any of it related to you. The good news is that many camps today deliver professional religious instruction and can be an opportunity for a child to explore their faith in an accepting and open environment.
There are many different reasons for choosing a Camp with a focus on faith but a lot of the data suggests that parents view camps as an integral part of their child’s faith development. A lot of parents are thankful to have yet another avenue to expose their child to certain beliefs and to staff who are thrilled about sharing their views in a respectful way. Much can be gained from the fantastic relationships campers are able to develop with their counselors and the great thing about camp is that it is relevant to the child and their way of thinking.
In fact, many camps go beyond just having a chapel time or a certain chunk of the day that is specifically devoted to faith discussions and are utilizing methods that incorporate faith and fun. A great example is how we operate at Camp Henry. As a Christian camp, we believe that everything we do at camp should be an example of our faith. We search out teachable moments and do all that we can to make no distinction between faith and fun. We firmly believe, along with many other camps in the industry, that campers can explore and experience spiritual truth in everyday activity.
A great example is how we run our High Ropes Course. Right along with receiving instruction about how to put on a harness and the proper safety steps we also brief the campers on their experience and how faith will be required during this activity. We ask them to think about how this fun and challenging activity could be a metaphor for what God might have to teach us about trust and life in general. We also spend time after the experience debriefing and relating the activity back to what the campers might have heard in their lessons at chapel that morning or in small group discussion with their cabin mates throughout the week.
Certainly, all camps are purposeful with the activities they provide. Elements and facilities aren’t just in place for kids to have a blast – as camp staff, we hope that the child will learn, challenge themselves, become more appreciative and understanding of the world around them, and explore their faith in new and relevant ways. Choosing to send your child to a camp that has a faith focus can be another great tool for helping them learn more about their faith and in helping them make their faith their own.
60 for 60
May 2nd, 2012 by by Tim Hileman, Executive Director of Indian Trails Camp
This summer will mark the 60th anniversary of Indian Trails Camp. It’s hard to believe that it was just 60 years ago when the parents of children from Eastern Orthopedic School in Grand Rapids got together with principals Cynthia Heth and Margaret Hamilton, dreaming of an all-inclusive summer camp that their children could be a part of. This vision went on to create an amazing camp that has served thousands of individuals with disabilities throughout the years.
The facilities, programs and services at Indian Trails Camp have changed and in many cases expanded—we are now a year-round organization serving children and adults with physical and/or developmental abilities through Skill-Building services, Respite Weekends, Day-Camp, Community Living Supports and Summer Camp. However, while our organization has grown to serve even more individuals than ever before, the core mission and values at Indian Trails Camp have remained steadfast.
Indian Trails Camp is been a place where all individuals—regardless of their disability— can experience “Love, Excitement, Friendship, Independence, Community, Recreation, Laughter and Esteem” in a camp setting. It is a place to leave life’s worries behind and experience the feelings of comfort and support. This special place has been so important to so many lives for the past 60 years. From all of us at Indian Trails Camp, I would like to thank you for being a part of this with us.
To celebrate the 60th anniversary at Indian Trails Camp, a large volunteer project entitled “60 for 60” is currently underway. The goal of this project is to have a day of volunteering to commemorate each year of Indian Trails Camp, so we need your help in filling 60 days of volunteering!
There are numerous volunteer days and opportunities available weekdays and weekends throughout this year and include everything from painting, raking and planting to cleaning, building and fixing. So get your friends together, grab some office mates, bring your family and help make Indian Trails Camp an even greater experience for all we serve.
If you are interested in volunteering, please contact Amy DeMott (616) 677-5251.
“I Love camp because it gives me an opportunity to do things I can’t do other places. I make lots of friends and I can do lots of activities like rope climbing, row boat, swimming, arts & crafts”.
-Craig P (Camper)