Interviewed by: Hallie Grodin
Campers: brothers Jack (10.5) and Max (8), going into their third and second years at camp at Winadu
Welcome to the second installment of our series: Camper Confidential! Interviews with current campers to give us a behind the scenes look at camp straight from the source! You’ll meet kids and teens who live 10 for 2. Plus, mom chimes in to provide some important insight and perspective (so you first time camp mamas can breathe a sigh of relief…and maybe get some needed comic relief)!
What do you love most about being at sleepaway camp?
Jack: I love playing sports all day everyday. I love being with my friends.
Max: Color War, it’s so much fun and there is nothing like it at home
Hallie: There is SO much to love! I love that my boys get to be independent in a safe environment. I love that they are forced to live with people they don’t already know and maybe with whom they wouldn’t normally be friends. I love that they have to try new and different activities that they wouldn’t necessarily choose on their own. I love that they don’t have electronic devices and can be in the moment and experience it all. I love that they have their own special place and their own language, that they are now part of a very special brotherhood that will last their lifetime.
Were you ever nervous that you wouldn’t love it?
Jack: Yes before my first summer I was definitely nervous at first that I wouldn’t love it. I was scared to be away from my family but I also knew if I could get over that I would have fun. Once camp started I realized right away that while I may still sometimes miss them, there was no doubt I was going to be having fun everyday.
Max: No, I knew I would love camp. I wish camp was 12 months, it’s not fair we have to go to school for longer than camp!
Hallie: Yes. In my heart I truly believed that my kids were campers and they would love camp and specifically the camp we chose BUT this is my profession, this is my passion, this camp holds a special place in our family’s heart and with all of that comes added pressure (so I felt). I didn’t want to get it wrong or mess it up for them. I just knew if they loved camp just a fraction of how much I loved it, we would be gold. Shockingly my husband, the non camper, was less nervous. I would like to believe it was because I had engrained in him from day one that our kids WILL be campers and WILL love it – but it really was because he knew they were ready, he knew we picked the right camp. All this being said, through MY tears putting them on the bus for their first summers, this overwhelming sense of calm came over me…to see them walk on that bus independently and confidentially, I knew we were good. And turns out I was not wrong :)
Going in to your 2nd summer, what are/were you most excited about, now that you knew what to expect?
Jack: I was most excited to see my friends and knowing I was going to have so much fun again.
Max: I’m excited to see my friends and meet new ones. I’m excited to play a lot more soccer. I’m excited to be away from my parents.
Hallie: For my oldest son who has now been for two summers, I was so excited for him to be reunited with his friends, for him to get back to doing what he loved every day, to be surrounded by these amazing campers, counselors and staff that would engage him, teach him and help him learn & grow. And so excited for him to be at his home away from home having fun and being a kid!
What advice can you give to 1st year campers?
Jack: It’s scary at first but once you are there, you have so much fun. And cherish your memories. 7 weeks may sound like a long time, but it flies by!
Max: Try new things, you won’t miss your parents, you’ll be having too much fun!
Hallie: Parents, hang in there. Take deep breaths. Do not freak out if you get a sad/not overly positive letter. Do not freak out if your child is nervous to go, crying when they leave, crying during phone calls. This doesn’t mean failure…this means learning and growing. This is all part of the experience. As I always tell my clients, even my last year as a camper at my camp that I LOVED, I still cried when I got phone calls from my parents, I still cried when they arrived and left on visiting day…but I still had the time of my life. Trust yourself. Trust your child. DO NOT REFRESH all day everyday. Let them be at camp, let them be campers, do not waste your timing worrying about them being on the end of a pic, not smiling as big as you would like, not giving you that special signal. It may not mean a thing – and if it does, trust the camp has got this! And after you drop your kids off at the bus (with sunglasses even if it’s overcast) there is no better way to dry out those tears than go have (a boozy) lunch with your own camp friends.
What is your favorite activity at camp that you had never tried before?
Jack: Waterskiing – it’s so cool getting to ski on the water. My mom told me I would love it, I was so excited to finally try it.
Max: Aerial adventure – at first I was sort of afraid because I had never done it and it was so high, but then I loved it
Hallie: I love that while they get to continue activities that they love at home, they also get to try new things and explore areas that they otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity to do. And often with siblings they have a tendency to do (and enjoy) the same activities because it’s what they are exposed to, but at camp they don’t have to follow in their siblings path, they can carve their own way – maybe it will result in the same activities and maybe in trying completely different things from one another.
What makes camp so special? Wouldn’t you rather be home with me?! Just kidding. But really – what is it that makes camp feel so magical?
Jack: Being with all boys that I can call my friends, my summer family, my brotherhood. Even though I have two brothers, camp is a different type of brotherhood.
Max: It’s non stop fun. There’s always a fun activity we are doing, it never gets boring. Living with my friends at camp is the best.
Hallie: My middle son said to me just the other day on the way to school “it’s so unfair, why do we go to school for 9 months and camp only for 7 weeks. I wish it was reversed.” This is what it’s all about. It’s hard to put in to words how magical camp is – but there is just something about being away from your parents, being away from the normal chaos of life, living with friends, doing what you love each day, being in the great outdoors – it’s living your best self. I was always freer to be ME at camp, to own it and love it and be comfortable in my own skin. There is just nothing like camp. It is one of the greatest gifts my parents ever gave me and I know one of the greatest gifts we are giving our kids.
Favorite Meal at Camp:
Jack & Max: Sunday night pizza!
Hallie: Billy & Alan’s banana bread (at my camp)
And most importantly, S’mores or Ice Cream?
Jack: Wacky Wednesday ice cream sundaes!!!
Max: Ice cream and I’ll take the marshmallows from the s’mores with it :)