The Best Scenes of Camp
April 25th, 2012 by Darren C. Williamson, Youth Empowerment Program Coordinator, Tall Turf Ministries
April is almost over, May will fly by, then it's Camp time!!!
It feels like not long ago, I was spraying OFF! on myself as I prepared to walk around the camp grounds last summer and see kids partaking in activities that once seemed foreign to their worlds. I saw counselors from different backgrounds whether it be racial or socio-economic engaged together as brothers and sisters in Christ!
At camp you see things that you would never see in the safe confines of your house and community. Such as the sun shining on the trees that reflect perfectly onto the lake in the evening. You can realize that God always has been and always will be! You can see so many stars in the night sky that you can not help but think of the story of Abraham looking up and counting them.
Yet the best scene that you can see at Camp Tall Turf is when campers from a bad home that normally can't afford to attend camp are seen enjoying these very things with other campers that seemingly have it all back home. Both of them then realizing that Jesus died on the cross for them, and that he refers to them as His brothers and sisters!
Camp Tall Turf is uniquely gifted in serving youth from a diverse range of backgrounds and economic levels. The biggest component of how we achieve this is hiring staff from a diverse range of backgrounds and economic levels. We also strive to provide a safe Christian environment for youtto learn as well as experience reconciliation.
Asthma: wheezing, sneezing, and camp?
April 10th, 2012 by By: Sarah DeYoung, Camp Tall Turf
Camp Tall Turf partnered with Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital to break the limitations children with asthma can face. Asthma Camp allows kids with asthma to be kids and fully participate in the fun activities camps have to offer. Find out more about this camp session for 8-13 year olds in this recent Rapidian article.
A Gift to Your Child
March 30th, 2012 by By: Roberta King, Grand Rapids Community Foundation
Perhaps, camp is a generational thing. If you went to camp as a kid, you’re more likely to send your own kids to camp.
I went to Girl Scout camp from age eight to 18 (I was a counselor by 18), and I loved the experiences. My husband Mike never went to camp, his family had a cottage so he summered there. When our kids came of age, I was totally ready to send them to camp. Mike, not so much. I had to convince him that camps are safe, well-staffed and most importantly fun. Until the day we dropped our six year old son Noah off at Indian Trails Camp, Mike was doubtful that this was a good idea. Of course, Noah had a great time at camp! He got to swim every day, made crafts, got to hang out with kids like him and cool teen counselors and ate great camp food. He was safe and returned home happy. What more could a parent want? Our daughter, Tasha was proud to have been a camper at Camp Pendalouan for five summers in a row and also enjoyed summers at Camp Henry and SpringHill Camp.
At camp I learned how to get along with new people and make friends with girls from different ethnicities and backgrounds. I learned to appreciate the out of doors and picked up some great wilderness survival skills. I learned how to cook over a fire and how to make hand cranked ice cream. I still remember all the verses and motions to hundreds of great songs. I became a strong swimmer and capable boater. I learned at an early age that there was a big world outside my family, and that I could survive without my parents for a week or two. I went to camp not knowing anyone and made friends with people I still know and enjoy.
Have no doubt, summer camp is a gift you can give your child that will last longer and be more meaningful than anything you can buy in a store.
Getting Prepared for Camp!
May 4th, 2011 by Aaron Gach, Boy Scouts of America, Gerald R. Ford Council
Here are the steps: We hear about a great camp. We do some research and find out if the camp will be a good fit for our child. Our children get excited about all the fun they are going to have.
What happens between the day we decide to send our child to camp and the day they arrive? Hopefully the answer is one simple word… PREPARE!
What do we mean when we say prepare? Well, if you have researched the camp by visiting its website and Facebook, read reviews, talked to parents or peers that have sent their children to that camp, spoken with the camp director/program director/leadership team, and read up on any documents or literature from the camp, you have already begun your preparations in a huge way! The big secret to the absolute BEST camp experience for your child is active preparation by you! If you are sending your child to a great camp the camp leadership will already have helpful resources available to assist you and your child as you prepare. The concept is all about information. The more informed you and your children are about what to expect, the more comfortable your child will be, translating into a better/more fun experience while at camp.
Camps typically present these “preparedness communications” in numerous forms. Flyers, parents books, websites, Facebook, parent meetings (best way!!!), what to bring to camp checklists, menus, daily schedules, program offerings, orientation days, advance sign ups, etc. all represent solid attempts from the camp to transmit useful preparedness communications to your family and camper. The question becomes what do we do with these items? Do we seek them all out, ask questions if we are unclear, and then utilize them to create a plan with our children before they ever leave for camp, or do we file them away to never be seen again?
We recommend a family meeting with your camper to go over what the schedule at camp will be, what to expect for a menu, what programs they will participate in, personal and camp safety, where they will be staying, who is in charge and so on. If a family member or close friend is not attending camp with your camper, can they? Perhaps your child can recruit his best friend to come to camp with them - this is another way to help your child be more comfortable in camp. Whatever the result, time discussing camp and expectations will assist your camper in being ready for camp. In this way your camper will feel prepared and knowledgeable on what to expect, so that when they arrive at camp there is a much smaller learning curve, and they can get down to the business of having the best experience ever!
See you at camp!
About the author…
Eagle Scout Aaron Gach is the Council Program Director for the Gerald R. Ford Council of the Boy Scouts of America, based in Grand Rapids, Michigan which annually serves over 20,000 young people here in west Michigan with the support of over 7,000 adult volunteers. He began his outdoor adventure as a Cub Scout at his Council’s resident summer camp. He now enjoys camping, mountaineering, climbing, hunting, water sports and more in the great outdoors! He joined his camp staff in 2000 and later served as Camp Director. Currently Aaron supervises camping operations for the four summer camps of the Gerald R. Ford Council, and the property’s year round maintenance and operations team. Gerber Scout Reservation, home to three camps, serves over 5000 Scouts and leaders each summer, and thousands more in the non-summer months. Visit www.bsagrfc.org for more info.
Selecting A Camp For Your Child
February 25th, 2011 by Doug Vanderwell, Camp Roger
A week at camp can be a great experience for a child, but did you know there are about 50 different camps in West Michigan?! How do you choose the right camp for you and your child? It can be a bit overwhelming trying to narrow down the options. In this article, I’m going to focus mainly on resident camps, but the same principles apply to choosing a day camp. Working through this list may help you narrow down the field and eventually choose a camp that is best for you and your child.
1. Narrowing the field (Camp Theme/Type) - Start by narrowing down the type of camp that you are looking for. Pick several characteristics that are important for you and then look for a camp that provides each of those. Are you looking for a sports camp, backpacking in the wilderness, religious camp, arts-n-crafts camp, horse camp, dance camp, outdoorsy camp, etc? Would you like to find a large camp (hundreds of campers per week) or a smaller camp (maybe only 40 per week)? Figuring out what type of experiences you want out of a camp will help narrow down your choices. The following websites are good tools for searching for camps, www.westmisummercamps.org, and www.acacamps.org. Another great way to find a camp is to ask people in your neighborhood or at your church about where they have sent their kids. Personal references from friends and family are a great place to start. Hopefully you can come up with a short list of camps that are good possibilities.
2. Interviewing the camp – Once you have some names of camps, go to the website or call and request a brochure. Learn all you can about the camp. As you look over the website or brochure, jot down questions that you could ask them. Realize that smaller camps don’t have the staffing and funds to develop expensive websites, but the website should give you a feel for what the organization is like. Then give each of the camps a call. Feel free to ask them questions, even if it is something that is on the website. It’s a good idea to talk with their staff. The time, attention and patience they show to you on the phone may likely be similar to the time, attention and patience they show your child while at camp. Here’s a list of questions that I might ask:
a. Tell me about your camp. Describe how you compare to other camps.
b. What activities are available? What choices will my child have?
c. What do you do to make children feel comfortable on the first day?
d. How do you hire your counselors? What are the important things you are looking for when you hire counselors? How do you screen your staff to make sure you are hiring safe ones?
e. What does your camp cost? Are there any other costs (store fees, program fees, etc.?) Is financial assistance available?
f. What do you do if my child is homesick?
g. What do you do if my child misbehaves?
h. What contact can I have with my child? Will I be able to know how they are doing?
i. What do you feel your camp does better than other camps?
j. If I were not to choose your camp, please recommend another camp or two that you would feel comfortable recommending (if the same few names kept coming up, then I would add them to my list…As a camp director, I would not be offended at all if I were asked this question.)
3. Visiting the camp – I cannot stress this one enough. Take the top name (or two or three) on your list and make an appointment with the director to take a tour of the camp. I realize that if you are considering a camp that is a few hours away, this may be hard to do. However, you really want your child’s first camp experience to go well so they continue to go for years. The actual tours will be well worth your time. Again, the camp’s willingness to take the time to show you around and listen to you is likely going to be similar to how they treat your child. I would even take my child along on these tours. Let them ask questions. This gives you an opportunity to see how the camp staff relate to your child and to see how your child reacts to the camp.
4. Asking for references – If you don’t have a personal reference for a particular camp, don’t hesitate to ask them for the names of a few families who have been there that you may call. They likely won’t have names and phone numbers ready to go, but give them a day or two and see how quickly they get back to you. Then call the parents and ask them to tell you about their experiences at the camp. They should rave about it and if they don’t; I’d be nervous about sending my child there.
Hopefully this helps! If you have any questions, feel free to give me a call at 616-874-7286.