Hello Camp Parents!
First off, I apologize for these recaps not being as frequent as they should have been. It’s been a very fun summer and I honestly did not have the time to record all the great things that happened, but I’m sure your kids have filled you in on all the good times.
I want to thank you guys first, as this camp has been nothing but a learning experience for me, and I appreciate all of your patience with this being my first year running Camp Adventure.
I’m nothing but a big kid at heart, so in terms of relating to your children and making them have a fun summer, I think we achieved that (hopefully at a 100% rate!) and I can honestly say I had fun while being in charge these past 9 weeks.
I will admit, being extremely organized is NOT my specialty, (as I’m sure of you who have seen my office know), so again, thank you for your patience on that front.
That being said…
I knew we had done something right, when Tuesday of the SECOND week of camp, I had a group of campers come up to me and ask if I was coming back NEXT year for Camp Adventure. (It’s like some of them have had their heart broken in a long term relationship, and just want to ensure they were covered for a couple of years…too funny).
From water balloon fights, to presentations, to pool days, to rainy days, I can honestly say I poured everything I had into this camp emotionally, physically, and even financially (I said they would get a pizza party in week 1, and they did not let me forget it for one day until week 8. Persistence. Love it .Turns out Pizza for 80+ kids doesn’t come cheap! J) and I firmly believe if not for myself personally doing it, one of my counselors made some sort of positive impact on your child’s life this Summer.
I’d like to thank all of my counselors as well, as they were flexible (sometimes the schedule didn’t come out till Sunday night!) and energetic for 9 straight weeks. Not easy to do! Specifically Bret Stamy, who has worked this camp for 9 years, and it would not surprise me if this past year was his last. He has newborn twins at home, and if he decides that this past year was his last, I am honored to have met, worked with, and become friends with Bret. He’s a great person who does wonders for the kids and is a role model for anybody in the Birdsboro / Douglassville Community. He was my rock all summer.
Some immediate changes to next year:
No cell phones. Took me all of 1 week to realize I made the wrong call on this one. Parents, you were right. I was very wrong. Gone next year for sure.
Organizationally, I will be better. The email list was too inconsistent for my liking (some people getting some but not getting others, etc.) I own that, and I will be better next year with that.
We will offer Early Bird Special Deals starting earlier this year, so you can sign up early and secure your spot for next year.
Hire somebody with more energy than myself (Not possible but a goal to strive for J . Ask your kids).
I want to do more field trips next year. Hopefully after a great summer, we can get closer to 100 or 120 kids for next year, so we can really take the kids more places more often. They behaved very well on their field trips, and organizationally, we were actually at our best when we went on them, so I’d like to lock in some bigger and better ones for next year!
Thank you all for a great summer. When asked “How are you?” by parents this year, I always joked “Another day in Paradise!” But in all honesty, to be able to wake up every day and make kids smile, laugh, and be a bright spot for their day….it just doesn’t get much better than that.
I encourage you guys if you’re ever driving by to stop on in and say Hi ! I will miss all of my campers very much.
Until next year!
Week 4 Recap:
Hello Camp Parents! This Weekly Recap will be a “short but sweet” one, as I have two notable things that happened at camp this week that may have been my favorite moments thus far of the summer.
As I’m sure your children have told you by now, we are big on leadership here at Camp Adventure. We preach to our older kids to lead the younger kids, and we try to give them multiple opportunities throughout the week to speak in front of groups, help one another, and develop a sense of leadership.
This week, one of our “leadership drills” was to give an “elevator speech” on how they (the kids) are the best camp adventure camper. Their template went, “Hi my name is _____ and I am the best camp adventure camper because _________.” And they had to provide 2 or 3 examples of why they are the best camp adventure camper. Many people said how they help the younger kids when we are in rotations, how good of listeners they are etc. I actually thought the kids did a good job of it, and you can tell a couple of our kids are improving their presentation skills and confidence speaking in front of groups.
I then made our Camp Counselors stand in front of the Camp and give their elevator speech, which consisted of “Hi my name is _______ I am a Camp Counselor this year at Camp Adventure, and I deserve a raise because __________.” They had to provide a one minute long speech on why “Mr. Mike” should give them a raise.
No doubt, the best speech was Mr. Bret Stamy, who got up last, and confidently spoke for a few minutes on why he should deserve a raise. “Camp Adventure campers, do any of you know that I have two kids at home?” He started with.
Some raised their hands or shouted out yes. He then began by explaining how MUCH it costs to raise a child, including college costs, and then gave the kids a guess on how much it costs to raise a child from Birth to 18. I think it went over 99% of our kids heads, but our camp counselors were absolutely cracking up. Most of our counselors said that they deserve a raise because they are nice, or funny, or that they play with the kids a lot. Bret literally broke down financially why he needs a raise, and it was honestly brilliant. Kudos to him.
The second thing I want to touch on is the new implementation of “Griff Ball” to our camp. The easiest way to describe this game is a mix between capture the flag and dodgeball. It is a VERY intense game, and once you get hit or tagged with ah ball, you are out and cannot get back in. The games itself last anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes, as it is mostly strategic. We had a game of about 15 on 15 the one day, and little Liam Walker, who is one of our smallest and youngest campers, was the LAST one in against an older camper. The game is pretty confusing to me and took some time for me to understand the strategy, so I imagine to Liam this was just an opportunity to throw balls at the other team and run around and have fun. He came up from behind our older campers and threw the ball and hit them out. He was the last man standing, and ran from one side of the gym to the other, carrying the “flag” (hockey stick) with THE WHOLE GYM chanting “ LIAM, LIAM, LIAM”. The kids picked him up on their shoulders and were carrying him around like he had just won the Kentucky Derby. The best part was I’m not sure Liam had any idea what was going on. But to see the whole camp get behind the epic play was awesome.
That’s all for this past week, looking forward to another great week of the best Camp around!
Week 3 Recap:
Another great week of camp is in the books!
This week was only 4 days, due to the fourth of July…but that did not stop us from having a fantastic, fun filled week of Camp Adventure.
Some funny / awesome things that happened at Camp this week:
Every week we do Camper Awards. These are typically awards such as Best Dancer (dancing is not only recommended, but strongly encouraged by Campers and Counselors), our Leadership Award, and best Arts and Crafts Award etc. This week, we did the same thing, only the kicker to it was, we had our campers come and interview with the counselors for why they should be picked for their awards. This was by far the highlight of the week, as the kids were SO serious about getting nominated for specific awards (which typically only entails getting a piece of candy) and the counselors could not take this seriously as it was the funniest thing that had happened all summer thus far.
We had kids coming in to win the best friend award, showing us their secret handshakes, telling us the history of how they met when they were younger, etc. The dedication to win these awards were great…and to have the kids come give us a sales pitch about why they should win, was A) great for their public speaking skills B) hilarious.
One specific camper wanted to win our “Best Basketball Player Award”. He came in confidently, told us his strengths and weaknesses about his game. He told us his statistics from his winter recreational basketball league and his leadership skills on the court. He gave us his NBA player comparison and spoke confidently about himself and his game. He won the award basically in the interview room, even though none of the counselors had seen him every play basketball.
We also offered the “Best Fortnite Player” award, which as you can expect, had a lot of interview candidates. I personally, have no idea how the game works, but some of our counselors do, and were giving the kids scenarios on if they would ever sacrifice themselves or their “loot” for the greater good of the team. This question revealed many funny answers like “If it meant winning the game, I would sacrifice myself for the team” and “No way, I want to get my personal profile statistics up”. We were all over the spectrum. Naturally, we had 2 or 3 rounds of interviews for this, which made for great laughs and a great time.
We did Camp Wide Trivia on Friday, which the kids seem to really enjoy. We split the counselors up as their captains, and the counselors get to play with their campers. Questions range from who was the second president of the United States to how do you spell your counselors last name. I believe Alex’s team won the grand prize of an air head.
Before I wrap up this brief recap, I have to commend my counselors this week. They are doing a great job at not only keeping the kids safe but making sure they are building real relationships with the kids in their groups, and are maintaining them as camp goes on. When the kids vote on their favorite counselor at the end of the week awards, (I conduct them, so the counselors do not know who wins until the end) it is rarely a landslide each week. It is often spread pretty evenly, and that is what we are striving towards! We want all of our counselors making impressions on all of the kids. I’m excited for week 4.
Week 2 Recap:
I would like to start my week 2 recap by thanking one of our Camp Counselors Matt Schroeder for his work at the Community Center / Camp Adventure for the past 2 years. Matt is leaving for West Chester University this weekend to start his college career. Matt has helped with our After School Clubhouse, as well as being a fantastic counselor for the kids the past 2 years. He is an expert at balancing having his kids respect him, but making the kids laugh and have fun. He may be back for a week later in the summer to be a counselor, but if he is not, we would like to extend our best wishes to Matt, as he continues on to his next chapter. Thank you Matt!
As we got into the “flow” of camp this week, I think the kids are really starting to understand what they like to do and what each activity will entail. When we offer arts and crafts in the game room, we are starting to see the “arts and crafts crew” make their way down there. At the same time, we have kids that like to try new things from day to day, and like to try arts and crafts one day, or swinging on the swings and playing at the park the next. That’s the beauty of our kids having the option what to do, which is what we pride this camp on.
Some funny / awesome things that happened at camp this week:
On Friday, we did “Camp Counselor Trivia” for about 20 minutes. The kids split into groups, and they got to fill out a worksheet with questions about their camp counselors. Where Matt is going to college, what sport Elise plays, how many brothers and sisters Joey has, were all examples of questions that we asked. The “bonus” question was to guess “Mr. Mike’s” age. We had a couple of spot on guesses, and a couple of really close guesses. Nothing, however, will beat some of our Yellow Teamers (youngest kids) who guessed that I was 41 (!!!). “FORTY ONE!” I yelled, across the gym. All of the kids were cracking up. It made for a great laugh.
The love for the game “Wall Ball” has increasingly becoming very popular on the outside court. I’m not sure why, but the kids love it, so we will continue to play it. I have been warned that games / sports / activities go in “waves” at camp. I’ve seen the kids want to switch games or sports quickly at times, but Wall Ball remains a camp favorite. We’ll keep playing!
The Camp Counselor Group Chat! We have a big camp counselor group chat, which typically consists of me instructing when our staff meetings are (my counselors LOVE them), and any information that needs to be relayed to them after camp is over for the day. A lot of my counselors have never met one another before this camp started, so I knew there would be a learning curve of them meeting, understanding, and getting to know one another. This second week, we had jokes, pictures of counselors on vacation (not cool), and even some digs thrown at me (good thing I’m a good sport). I’m glad it didn’t take long for all of my counselors to feel comfortable with one another. At this rate, they are going to be best friends by the end of the summer. It will make for a much stronger bond and better energy throughout the camp. I’m excited.
P.S. The big joke this week in the group chat was one of our counselors (who will remain nameless) embarrassingly falling off the diving board at the pool. I did not witness this, but if any of your kids did, please ask them about it, because the kids COULD NOT stop laughing about it all day.
Our Junior Counselor Aydan Wiggins winning favorite counselor award! Aydan has volunteered at the community center for a couple of months now, and was excited to become a junior counselor. For being a volunteer (as all of our junior counselors are, and we appreciate their efforts very much), I would understand if they were not 100% motivated at all times to bring energy every single day. That is NOT the case with Aydan. He absolutely is an asset to us, and comes in every single day with energy and a big smile. The kids voted him as their favorite counselor for the week BY A LANDSLIDE! We appreciate Aydan and all of our junior counselors. They are a very cool part of camp.
The last thing that I want to touch on is the leadership aspect of Camp Adventure. It Is something that we touch on every day, and we pride ourselves on developing our kids as leaders, not followers. (Being a good follower, is considered being a leader as well). On Wednesday, we split all of our kids into groups that consisted of all three of our teams, yellow, blue, and green. They then needed to find out 2 facts about each person in their group, and present this to our staff. It was a VERY cool experience for my staff, as they got to judge who spoke confidently, who helped the younger kids do well in their presentations, and who gave great eye contact. I think it really helped the energy of the camp moving forward, as it got the older kids working with the younger kids, and it got them talking and presenting. Something we will look to build on as weeks continue!
Thank you all for your support through Camp! Any questions, concerns, or comments, feel free to email us at email@example.com or call the center at 610.582.2471.
Looking forward to the rest of an already great summer!
Week 1 Recap:
To all my Camp Adventure 2018 Parents and Families:
My name is Mike Dooley and I am the Camp Adventure 2018 Camp Director. I believe I have had the privilege to meet most of you by now, and so far, it has been an absolute pleasure. I know how important this camp is to the returning children, and the town of Birdsboro/Douglassville in general…and I know how important it is to make a good impression on week 1 of a camp for a child who has never attended.
To keep it brief, my week 1 recap will not be so brief, because for only 5 days of a summer day camp, there was a lot that went on, and a lot that I feel like I need to share with you, or it won’t do this weekly recap justice. Buckle Up!
Overall, this was a really entertaining week. My Camp Counselors did a great job of keeping the kids safe at all times, and made sure every kid had an opportunity to have a great time. If you’d attend one of our camp staff meetings (held before camp every day), you’ll hear me say to my staff before we depart for the day, “It’s not what you do, it’s how you do it”, which in turn means, it doesn’t matter what game you’re playing, what situation you are in, or what opportunity you have to be a great camp counselor, it just matters HOW you do it … ie, energy, being a leader, making the kids laugh etc. I can honestly say I am THRILLED with my staff this week, from top to bottom, and that I have really not much for them to improve on except some minor details (we strive for perfection here at Camp Adventure ☺).
A quick shout out to Emilee Durso, our Reading Director, for having the hardest job in this whole camp, and doing an absolutely fantastic job while maintaining patience throughout the whole process. Also a quick shout out to Kim Myers, who is a mentor / friend / boss of mine, and who has helped guide me along the way of setting everything in camp up, and making this camp possible.
Some awesome / funny things that happened at camp include:
Camp Counselor Matt Schroeder’s organization and leadership of his team (with help from other counselors and junior counselors). Matt is in charge of the yellow team, which is the youngest team in the camp (1st, 2nd, 3rd graders). Come 10:15 on Tuesday, Matt sternly but patiently said to his team, “Yellow team, it’s time to switch, Line up!” This being the youngest group of kids, you would expect this command to be repeated 4-5 times. For some odd reason that I cannot explain, the FIRST time he said this, I kid you not, I saw 28 1st, 2nd, and 3rd graders, get in perfect single file line, without a peep. It was one of the coolest things I saw all week. Kudos to Matt.
If you are returning parents for Camp Adventure, I am sure you have heard how important Wiffle Ball games are to the kids. To me, Wiffle Ball is a summer game, that little kids play during family parties. To Camp Adventure Campers, it is absolute life or death. A perfect example of this was our Sports Director / Senior Counselor Ryan Okuniewski (designated all time pitcher for objectivity reasons), pitching in the bottom of the 9th inning. Hitting team was down 1, with 2 outs, with 2 kids on base….a high pressure situation to say the least. Ryan wound up, pitched (underhand), and there was a dribbling ground ball to the right of the pitchers mound. Ryan took 2-3 quick strides, fielded the ball with his momentum carrying him into foul territory, jumped, and threw a perfect strike to 1st base for the final out. The play was equivalent to Derek Jeter’s jump throw in the 1998 ALCS in terms of similarity and in magnitude. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, check out this link. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=8&v=oxzR0RKRWTQ)
Pure jubilation happened on the fielding side of the court, and pure devastation struck on the hitting side of the court. I’ve never seen two groups of kids so high, and so low in terms of emotion. The kicker to all of this? Ryan made this epic play of epic proportions, in the highest pressure situation, on his sister, Erin, who was hitting. No brotherly love in Camp Adventure Wiffle Ball.
One different thing we’ve added to our camp this year is the Snack Shack. The Snack Shack is a newly renovated room in the Center, that provides our kids the opportunity to purchase and eat substantial meals as well as candy and treats. Our two wonderful helpers, Alison and Angela, run the snack shack. At 11:45 on Monday, I went up just to make sure they were ready for the first rush. “You guys ready for them?” I asked.
“Bring it on” they replied. Quick response, but epic nonetheless. They’ve handled every twist and turn with the kids and their orders, perfectly. We’re thrilled about that moving forward.
Another thing I haven’t touched on is the connection our campers have made to our counselors. A perfect example of this is our Camp Counselor Amanda Englehart. Amanda was sick Monday, and was bummed out she couldn’t be there for the first day. Amanda is generally a quiet person, (I know this because she is a part time employee at the Community Center and helps out with our after school clubhouse as well). So I knew the lack of Day 1 introductions would frustrate her in terms of being behind the 8 ball meeting the kids. I just told her to interact and be the fun, giggly person that she is, and she’d be fine. On Wednesday, around 1 o clock, I was keeping score of a Kick Ball game in the gym, when Amanda walked in, with 8 little girls following her to go outside. “I have a following!” She said with a huge smile and laugh. It was the equivalent of a Mother Goose leading her ducklings crossing the street. It absolutely made me crack up laughing.
Elise Sylvester is one of our new additions to the camp staff this year, and she has already made a strong impact and connection with her kids and her group. Elise has a dislocated knee, that she really doesn’t have all of the much mobility in, and she is typically sitting and supervising, or doing arts and crafts, not playing sports and making epic plays during wiffle ball like some of my other counselors. In our staff meeting on Tuesday, I made the mix-up of putting her as a counselor to walk the trail with the kids in the morning. “Elise, you’ll be walking the trail with Bret, Aarick, Alex, and the Blue team to start,” I said.
“Got it”, was her very quick, and sharp remark.
I went on with my camp staff meeting without looking up from my paper. As we finished and I said the final remarks to end the meeting and start camp, I looked up and saw Elise limping away with no hesitation, getting ready for camp like everybody else. She walked the trail 3 times that morning. No complaints, no mention of the leg, nothing. She might be 5 foot, but she is tougher than me, no doubt. Small but mighty.
Last one I promise.
This week was not as structured in terms of layout of what we wanted to do because me and my Senior Counselors wanted to hear from the kids what interested them the first couple of days, and then adjust our schedule and go from there. By Tuesday, I had probably 6-8 individual requests to go fishing. I knew fishing was something Camp Adventure had done in the past, but did not know it was this popular. I kept telling them me and my Senior Counselors would discuss it at the end of the day like we always do, and I would let them know. At the end of the day, I had a group of 4-5 of the older boys come up to me with wide eyes and ask, “Mr. Mike, can we PLEASE go fishing this summer?”
“This Summer?” I answered, as I looked at my Senior Counselor Bret Stamy (who was giving me the thumbs up and nod in the background), “How about tomorrow?”
For a second or two….dead silence.
The next 10 minutes?
Like opening their favorite gift on Christmas, times 100.
That, in my opinion, is what Camp is all about.
Looking forward to next week and a great summer!