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First Time Camper? What to Expect…

IMG_9312As we head into our 88th summer, it’s incredible to think that over 25,000 kids have started their lives at Robin Hood. That’s a lot of first-time campers! Families can trust that from the moment they say YES to Robin Hood they will be taken care of with the best care and attention, that which can only be found in a family. With over 50% of our staff being alumni, it’s clear that Robin Hood is a family and at it’s core are the people who have become part of our incredible legacy. With more than 250 combined summers at Camp Robin Hood, our Leadership Team understands the unique responsibility of preserving the Robin Hood experience that shaped us each as individuals, and we are dedicated toward providing that same experience for our campers. You’ll see it in the assistance we provide before camp, the care and attention we devote during the summer and our dedication even after the season has ended.

Before Camp

  • Our comprehensive Parent Handbook is available online and is your one-stop shop for everything Camp Robin Hood.
  • Get to know Camp Robin Hood through our online videos!  When we find ourselves missing camp (which is pretty much all the time,) we schedule an evening activity of “Night at the Movies” and watch our online videos. They truly paint a picture of what “life in The Realm” is all about which is a great way for the whole family to get ready for camp!
  • Parents of newcomers appreciate the fact that our office staff is always available to answer questions and offer friendly advice. If you have a question, call us.  We’re here to help!
  • “Dear DC” letters and our Parent & Camper Questionnaire allow families to address camper goals and parental concerns/goals for their child
  • Robin Hood’s Big Sister/Little Sister Program pairs older campers with newcomers and our Boys side can write letters and correspond with Group Leaders if they have any questions about what to expect for their first time at camp
  • Campers and their parents can visit our FAQ page and stay connected through our various social network sites by following us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and of course, The WoodChuck blog!

During Camp

  • As soon as your camper arrives at camp they will be under the care and supervision of our incredible leadership staff. Daily “bro-sessions” and “girl talk” with each Division and their GL (Group Leader) allows campers to talk about the good and bad of their day, both as individuals and as a community
  • Campers live in bunks with both specialty staff and GC’s (general counselors.) GC’s are all returning campers who know first hand what your child is experiencing and provide support and leadership throughout the summer as your child participates in various activities throughout the summer.
  • Regular staff meetings and check-ins ensure our Head Staff, GL’s, GC’s and specialty staff are all working to meet the goals set forth by your family in your “Dear DC” letter and Parent & Camper Questionnaire.
  • Homesickness is normal for campers (first-timers or not) and is healthy. It means your child likes being at home and that is great! We encourage families to send letters to camp so that there is mail waiting for your camper when they arrive. Remember to keep your letters positive and upbeat.  Of course you can tell your child you miss him/her, just don’t go on about how miserable it’s making you. Camp is the time to instill confidence and independence in your child. Mentioning things he/she can’t control can lead to homesickness, anxiety and depression, which we are trying to avoid. Not to worry, your campers will be sending you mail too! Once a week, their meal ticket is a letter home, so don’t forget your stationary and stamps.
  • There are no strangers at Camp Robin Hood, only friends we haven’t met yet. Campers at Robin Hood are from all over the country and the world, making our community geographically diverse. With the help of older, experienced campers, it’s easy to make friends in The Realm and new campers feel welcomed and accepted.
  • We know how difficult it can be transitioning to an overnight camper so we make sure to keep our campers busy throughout the day!  From the minute they wake up to lights out, our days are filled with programs that are fun, energetic and engaging.  At Robin Hood, there’s something for everyone!

After Camp

  • The friendships you make at camp are ones that will stay with you for a lifetime.  Memories of Robin Hood will be with you forever and we work hard throughout the year to help keep you connected.  Our newsletters keep our campers in touch with Letters from DC & Woody, What’s New at Camp, Camp Robin Hood Congrats and more.  There’s nothing like getting something in the mail from camp and it’s fun to read too!
  • Reunions are scheduled in the fall and winter in both NYC and Cleveland, respectively, and are great ways to reconnect with your friends from the summer. Campers, staff and families are invited to reminisce about camp and is a great way to keep those friendships alive

Staff Spotlight 2015

At Robin Hood we pride ourselves on hiring the best staff in the business to make sure your most treasured possessions (those are your children), are taken care of.  Our staff is made up of educators, college athletes, coaches, artists, alumni and many other experts dedicated to the success of your camper’s summer.  Enjoy a sneak peak of this year’s staff below.  We can’t wait to see you all soon for the best summer of our lives!

melMel Cohn – Group Leader

Mel Cohn will be returning for her 12th summer at Robin Hood and we are thrilled she will be a group leader for another set of young ladies.  Mel just completed a semester abroad in Sydney, Australia which she calls “an experience of a lifetime”.  She is in her junior year at Davidson University in North Carolina where she is studying psychology with a focus on child development.  She is involved in social and philanthropic groups and participates in intramural basketball and softball too! Mel has a true sense of what camp is like and understands the difference between camper and counselor.  Not only is she excited for her 2015 group of campers, she is excited to continue to inspire her former campers who are currently on staff!  Mel’s connection to Camp Robin Hood and it’s traditions are what keep her returning.  She recently sent the following advice to her former campers:  “keep coming back, pass the traditions on and take in the magic for as many years as you possibly can. Trust me, you won’t regret it!”  We couldn’t agree more, Mel!  Welcome back!

bruceBruce Heald – Intensive Specialist (Watercolors)

Bruce is excited to be returning to camp as an alumni from the 1960’s!  Last summer, after paying a visit to The Realm, Bruce recalled great memories of being a crafts, pottery and music counselor and has decided to return for another summer, bringing his love of art to the campers of Robin Hood.  Bruce will be offering Water Color intensives during the first three weeks of the summer.  He currently lives in Meredith, NH and is a Professor of Philosophy and American History.  He has written a number of books on the History of New Hampshire and is an accomplished artist.  We are excited to have Bruce join our staff this summer to share his talents and stories from camp in the 60’s. Welcome back, Bruce!

 

abramAbram “AB” Fleming – Tennis

Abram “AB” Fleming is from the small down of Gas City, Indiana and is very excited to spend his first summer at Camp Robin Hood.  He just finished his sophomore year at Butler University where he is majoring in Marketing and Management Information Systems with the hopes of one day working for a professional sports team!  Next year at Butler University he’ll be a Resident Advisor and the Vice President of the club tennis team.  AB has been playing tennis for over 12 years and loves every second on the court.  He has participated in many tennis camps over the years and gives lessons to children of all ages and skill levels.  When he’s not playing tennis, he loves spending time with friends, listening to music, and reading.  He can’t wait to meet all of the kids at Robin Hood, making memories of a lifetime!  Welcome to The Realm, AB!

 

Mark Dezell – Group Leader/Lacrossemark

After spending a few weeks with us during the summer of 2014, Mark is excited to be coming back for his second year in The Realm.  As soon as “Lacrosse Mark” left last year, he immediately missed the New Hampshire air and the environment created by the staff and campers.  Mark will be joining us this year as a Group Leader, as well as a specialty counselor for the lacrosse program.  He is looking forward to bettering each and every player on an individual level and working with a team of young men in their day to day life at camp.  When asked about choosing to return for another summer, Mark wrote, “From the best staff in the world to the most energetic and enthusiastic campers, the Robin Hood family is unlike any other and I cannot wait to be apart of it!”  Welcome back!

Social Skills Learned At Camp

Sharing is caring, which is why when we come across an article that helps answer the question, “Why send a child to summer camp?” we want to share it with all of you! It’s really quite simple. There is a real need for children to gain valuable life-skills outside of our homes and classrooms.  We can no longer rely solely on what our parent’s taught us or what our children are learning in school as the sources of educating youth. Times certainly have changed and raising kids is not an easy task. After all, children spend most of their time in school focusing on standardized testing and more time in front of screens when they are outside of school. This article, The Ultimate 21st Century Skills Learning Environment, highlights the benefits of summer camp as a solution to these very real 21st century problems. Add it to the list of reasons why camping is so important today!

Blog_2015_Social_Skills_2

It used to be so easy. Mom was home, and kids wanted to play outside, as we only had seven channels on the television (and no central air). Boy, how times have changed. Technological advances have profoundly affected life, as we know it, including how we raise our children.

Most families rely on two sources for child rearing, (1) What we as parents teach our children at home, and (2) what educators teach our children in school. But there is a third, very important arena that many parents do not consider: What is taught to our children when we, the parents, aren’t with them, when they are away from us and away from school. This is when they are actually most able and willing to learn. This is where the camp experience comes into play!

PROBLEM: Too Much Technology Consumption

Technology is a drug, and we parents are the drug pushers. While parents recognize the inherent issues, the majority of American families do not institute (or uphold) rules to govern their children’s technology consumption. It’s right in front of our eyes- the two year old scrolling through Mom’s iPhone, kids who can’t ride in a car for more than 2 minutes without a movie playing or a handheld electronic device, and older children addicted to violent video games. Most parents give their children these technological gadgets thinking that it relaxes them, when in fact they are being greatly STIMULATED, suppressing their capability to control their emotions (self-regulate). Today’s children are less able to cope with challenging situations, as most lack resiliency and patience. Kindergarten teachers tell us how their students are no longer able to build large-scale projects, as they get frustrated and quit.

Parents can’t figure out how to mitigate it technology consumption. They often choose to avoid negative interactions, since they have so little time with their children to begin with. But when summer comes around and school obligations end, the opportunity is out there for a digital detox in the sun, dirt and sweat of summer camp- the only place that kids give up their phones, xBoxes, TVs, computers and THANK YOU for it!

In an unplugged environment, camp helps children develop emotional self-control, allowing them to find connections within themselves- a vital part of growing up. Camp also provides a unique environment for kids to learn how to share, co-create and collaborate with one another, developing friendship skills along the way.

PROBLEM: 21st Century Skills NOT Taught in School

“21st Century Skills” are defined as the knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary to be competitive in the modern day workforce. The Partnership for 21st Century Skills (p21.org) is a non-profit organization based in Washington D.C. which is comprised of some of the biggest, most successful businesses in the USA. The p21 organization researched and compiled a list of the specific skills that these companies seek in their new hires. The answers were not the “3 R’s” which our schools focus on, but “the 3 C’s”:

  1.  Critical Thinking & Problem Solving
  2.  Creativity & Innovation
  3.  Communication & Collaboration

They also listed the following life skills as most important for their new employees:

  • Flexibility & Adaptability
  • Initiative & Self Direction
  • Social & Cross-Cultural Skills
  • Productivity & Accountability
  • Leadership & Responsibility

Unfortunately, the wonderful teachers in our schools focus a major portion of their classroom time on preparation for standardized tests. The newest educational reform uses a term called “Depth of Knowledge” (DOK) which measures the process of transferring and applying knowledge to different situations. While this is a step in the right direction, the new Core Curriculum does not measure collaboration, creativity, initiative, leadership or responsibility- skills that are taught extensively at summer camp. The teachers that work for me in the summer say that they WISH their classrooms could be more like summer camp. While working at camp, they tell me, “Now THIS is why I became a teacher”.

SOLUTION: Children’s Summer Camp

Below is a typical camp experience, acknowledging 21st Century Life Skills:

  • Parents sign up their children for summer camp, children anticipate it for the upcoming months, having inner-conversations, keeping their emotions in check, and imagining what it will be like. (self-control, emotional control, self-distraction).
  • Children take the bus or get dropped off at camp, breaking free of their parents and embarking on exciting new experiences (independence, initiative, courage, optimism).
  • Children become part of a group/bunk at camp, sharing responsibilities and working together, all while being a good person. (teamwork, responsibility, accountability, integrity)
  • Children participate in activities throughout their day, including swim, athletics, arts and adventure. They try new things, listen to the staff members, and push themselves and their peers to new heights (aspiration, curiosity, respect, leadership).
  • Children experience the ups and downs of making and keeping friendships (integrity, communication, adaptability, patience).

Camp is the ultimate “depth of knowledge” environment for teaching 21st Century Life Skills. We see it every day in the growth of our campers (and staff), and more and more camps are doing the research to actually prove it!

At my camp, we survey campers during their final week of camp with us, and ask them questions based on the growth of the Life Skills we focus on. When asked last summer how their Teamwork skills changed at camp, 63.3% said they increased some, I am sure”, and 33% said they increased a lot, I am sure”- a 96% reported increase!

We also surveyed PARENTS, and 81% reported seeing an increase in their children’s Teamwork skills at home, in regards to an improvement in interpersonal skills, ability to effectively communicate, cooperation, collaboration, leadership, and supporting/helping others. The results were similarly positive for the other character skills measured.

Like a life-skills multi-vitamin, summer camp is supplement for modern society. In a world where parents battle for their children’s attention from video screens, and school teachers focus on teaching for the tests, summer camp provides a wonderfully unique environment for learning the skills that parents and future employers yearn for our children to develop- skills of character, skills for life!

You can read the original article HERE. Andy Pritikin is the Owner/Director of Liberty Lake Day Camp in Mansfield Township, NJ and the President of the American Camp Association, New York and New Jersey.LibertyLakeDayCamp.com, ACA-NYNJ.org 

 

Vacation from Medication?

Parents know how important it is to provide guidance and understanding to children with ADHD.  Whether that’s with positive reinforcement or through medication, it’s crucial to the child’s success that the support is constant; and that the same care be given when they are away from home.

In some cases, parents may wish to remove their children from medication while away at summer camp.  Parents often feel that the stress and constant grind of home life doesn’t exist while their child is away at camp. However, being away from home and separated from everything familiar can often be even more stressful.  Additionally, camp is a very dynamic environment, often providing even greater stimulation than a school and home setting.

Consulting the doctor (preferably a Child Psychiatrist) that prescribes the medication to discuss the wisdom of “drug holidays” is critical to the decision. If the decision is made to remove the child, it’s important to notify camp. It could be very difficult for the staff to determine if the child is having difficulty adjusting, or if they are suffering some type of withdrawal from their medication.

When looking at the potential reaction the child could have to being removed from their medication in a new, unfamiliar environment, parents may want to ask these questions and consider the answers below:

How does it benefit my child to be taken off ADHD medication?
Giving the brain “drug holidays” from drugs that can develop a tolerance (habituation that requires a higher dose to accomplish the same effect) is important. When the therapeutic benefits of the drug, such as being able to sit still and pay attention in class, are not needed, the medication can be removed.

Do we inform camp of our decision, or is this a family matter?
The camp needs to be informed no matter what the decision is, whether to keep the child on the medication or take him/her off.

Are there side effects to temporarily stopping medication?
The stimulant medications, Adderall, Concerta, Focalin, Ritalin, are rapidly removed from the system and can produce a withdrawal syndrome of agitation and discomfort, so the Physician should provide guidance as to the removal of the drug. Strattera, a non-stimulant medication, takes much longer to leave the system, but “cold turkey” sudden removal of the medication may also produce withdrawal symptoms.

http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder/complete-index.shtml#pub9

Preparing the Family For Sleep Away Camp Series is contributed by Phillip Romero, MD.  Based in New York City, Dr. Romero is a relationship stress specialist and brain coach. For twenty-five years he has worked in private practice with families, couples and individuals and trained Fellows in Child Psychiatry as Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Cornell Medical School.

In 1988 he created Logosoma Brain Training (LBT) by incorporating recent advances in brain science and Buddhist mindfulness techniques to help people master their relationship stress. As a medical student Dr. Romero studied at the Yoga Institute in Bombay and received training in Buddhism & Tibetan Medicine in Dharamsala, India where he met with the Dalai Lama. He is a life-long practitioner of both Tibetan and Zen meditation techniques, and is currently developing Logosoma Brain Training seminars for the public. Dr. Romero can be contacted through http://www.phantomstress.com/.