Top 5

five ways to deal with feeling intimidated

Ever go to do something and not know how to start? No matter how you approach it you just feel like you will never be able to succeed so what is the point in trying at all?

The feeling of intimidation is daunting. It discourages us from trying new things, from sharing our accomplishments and from being the best we can be. Intimidation is born from many sources: a peer who is 'good at everything', a preconceived notion of how you should look/perform/interact or pressures felt from companies/celebrities displaying their concepts of perfection. One of the biggest intimidation sources is social media. It is easy to think that everyone out there is cooler, better, happier, more popular etc etc than you based on their curated Instagram feed or flawless 'Snap Streak'. 

Surely everyone has felt intimidated at one point or another so here are our Top Five Ways to Deal with Intimidation:

  1. Be confident in your own path. - You make choices every day that shape your life. Those choices make you who you are. As long as you are happy with the path you are on do not worry about what others may think and stay true to yourself. 
  2. Public image ≠ reality. - People generally do not post bad pictures of themselves. People generally do not let you know about their failures. No one is perfect and whenever it seems like person x is living the dream and better than you at life just remember that they have their own fears and limitations that you may not know about. Do not compare yourself to someone else's ideals but rather focus on your own.
  3. Set goals. - The best way to ignore the crowd is to set some goals. These can be goals to a specific accomplishment or just daily goals like be a better person, help others and try something new. We help each of our campers set goals every day at camp and it allows them to tackle big things without getting overwhelmed. Break whatever you want to do into pieces, master each piece and put it all together to dominate.
  4. Seek help! - There are resources all around you. Parents, coaches, teachers, peers, online tutorials, the list goes on. If you want to do something chances are there is someone nearby that can help you out.  
  5. Disconnect! - Stop worrying so much about what others are doing and focus on what matters. Put your phone down and do not check social media for a few days. Likewise do not do something new just to post about it to your friends and followers: do it for yourself. 

So go learn a new instrument. Try out some public speaking. Ask out the person you have been scared to approach. Do something that would usually make you 'uncool'. Above all, when you feel intimidated by something just take a deep breath and dive in.   

top five reasons kids with their own boats should still come to our camp

The biggest part of my 'off-season' job as a camp owner is to speak with families (on the phone, Skype, in person, or over e-mail) and answer their questions about our program. One question I hear a lot goes something like this:

My (son/daughter) is really into (wakeboarding/waterskiing/wakesurfing) and we want (him/her) to learn new skills but we have a boat and a lake house so we can probably teach them ourselves so why should we spend the money on your camp?

My answer is usually some combination of the below Top Five reasons kids with their own ridiculous lake setup should still come to Water Monkey Camp:

Camp makes for instant friendships.

Fun and Camaraderie - Anyone who has been away to camp (especially Water Monkey) knows that camp is more than just the activities offered. Nowhere else do kids meet one day as total strangers and become inseparable best friends by Day 2. Camp is a catalyst for friendships that will last a lifetime. The watersports may be why campers come but the good times with other kids are what stay with them when they go home. 

Early AM group stretch.

Social Interaction (of the in-person variety) - Cell phones and social media have changed the way people interact to the detriment of us all. Camp is a rare break in a camper's life of nonstop social media bombardment. At camp kids are forced to interact with each other from the moment they arrive until their parents show up to take them home. This could be as simple as a cabin of campers figuring out how to share the sink to brush their teeth at night to a camper talking one-on-one with a coach to work out how to improve at a certain skill or just a few guys and girls sitting and joking around after lunch. As texting and Snapchatting replace actual human interaction it is always great to see kids talking to each other the old fashioned way.

Skis and smiles.

Top Level Coaches - I get it, you have a brand new $125,000 wake boat on a beautiful lake near your hometown and all the gear you could possibly need for a summer out on the water. What you are missing, though, is trained coaches who dedicate their lives to pursuing the sports we offer at camp. The progression that we see in just a week is often insane. First-time waterskiers that leave after a week having progressed to using just one ski (slalom). Kids who have never heard of wakesurfing not only getting up but dropping the rope and surfing. Intermediate wakeboarders throwing down back rolls and tantrums having never tried an inverted trick before coming here. The program we have created in combination with the unintimidating atmosphere of learning and fun allows campers to significantly boost their skills in a short time. These skills are brought back to your lake for the rest of the summer and onwards to continue progressing and share with other family and friends. Yes, you can have fun on your own boat all summer long but what our coaches provide is that extra push to do something great.

Safety first.

Safety While Learning New Skills - Just because you have that nice boat and have dialed in the wake just right does not mean that you can safely teach your child at home to launch over the wake and learn tricks without some injuries as a byproduct. Our above-mentioned coaches prioritize safety during each campers' progression so that they are building new skills over a foundation of old ones and never getting out of control. Kids are fearless and our job at camp is to focus their energy and training into results without unnecessary hospital visits. 

Independence! - Possibly the most important aspect of coming to camp is the sense of independence from home, parents, friends, judgement, comfort zone, etc etc the list goes on forever. So many kids who are too shy in front of their parents to speak up or try something new will jump at the opportunity once away at camp. I cannot tell you how many times we hear each summer how a camper returned home a new person with more self confidence and self esteem. The feeling of being away at camp - a feeling I still remember 20 years later - is simultaneously exciting, scary, invigorating, and hard to describe to anyone who has not experienced it themselves.

Responsible gift giving for the holiday season...

Over the next month or so most of you will be inundated with gifts - both giving and receiving.  While it is undeniably fun to exchange presents, rarely do kids or their parents think about the impact those gifts will have on our planet.  

Plastic toys, textiles (clothes), and electronic gadgets and trinkets take tremendous resources to produce, package, and transport and then typically end up in a landfill after a season or two of use (if they get used at all).  In fact the textile/garment/fashion industry is the second most polluting sector on our planet with number one being the oil industry!  Anything made of plastic is no better: every piece of plastic ever produced still exists today and will be around long after we are all gone to pollute our waters and poison wild creatures.

With that (downer) in mind, here are the top five gifts to give this season with our planet Earth in mind.

  1. Your time/company
    • Instead of a tangible gift why not plan and commit to a trip, meet-up, getaway, or a weekly hour of time that you get together with friends or family to relax, eat, talk, or see a movie?  Must-have gift fads are fleeting but quality time is precious.  Disconnect and enjoy good company!
  2. Handcrafted (wood) Gift
    • Unwrapping a box is half the fun over the holidays but that does not mean the surprise inside should be a thoughtless commercial item.  Wood is a renewable resource that sucks up carbon while it grows and then becomes our homes, furniture, and a variety of fun items.  My ski poles are made of (super) renewable bamboo that I built with a DIY kit from Soul Poles.  Coach Ryan's favorite game is Kendama which campers have surely seen him playing with at camp.  You can also add that extra touch and build something yourself to give away.  Wood is easy to work with and building with someone is an extra bonus as you learn new skills and enjoy some quality time (see #1).
  3. Donate to a charity
    • What better way to show someone you really know them then donate to a charity or nonprofit that exactly reflects their passion.  There are organizations for every cause from the environment to wildlife to child welfare to cancer and disease prevention.  Even better, give to a local animal shelter or food pantry to keep the benefits where the gift recipient lives.    
  4. Online subscription (Netflix / Hulu / Spotify)
    • Setting aside the pollution endemic to the modern internet, a gift of a subscription service can be a lasting and awesome present that eliminates a plastic DVD or CD (if those even exist any more).  Streaming services provide limitless entertainment as well as knowledge through documentaries and podcasts.  This is a gift that will get the recipient to think of you every time they log in...which is likely every day.  
  5. CAMP!
    • Sorry for the shameless self promotion.  Giving the gift of camp is something that a kid will go crazy for.  I listed all of the reasons in a previous post so I will not go into detail here but suffice to say camp is worth way more than the price of tuition.

 I hope you enjoy the holidays and if this post gets you to replace one 'traditional' gift with something more environmentally responsible then I have accomplished something this year!

P.S. Recycle!



Top 10 health benefits of wakeboarding

Anyone who has ever woken up the day after a wakeboarding or waterskiing set and felt their arms, shoulders, and backs all achy and sore knows how intense of a workout these sports can be.  Beyond physical exercise, though, wakeboarding improves flexibility, clears your mind, and gets you outside enjoying nature.  Here is a link to a short little article with the top 10 health benefits of wakeboarding. Top 10 Benefits of Wakeboarding

I am sure everyone has their own additions to this list which is great!  The fact that everyone has their own reasons why they love getting behind the boat is why these sports continue to evolve and grow.


(Article found by Water Monkey Coach Heather; thanks Heather!)

How to recover from a bad camp experience...

We hear from new families we speak to all of the time that they are hesitant to send their son or daughter back to camp after a horrendous episode at another camp.  From inedible food to untrained and aloof staff to dilapidated facilities to dangerous practices - we have heard it all.  So here are some pointers for how campers and parents can bounce back from a bad camp experience.

  1.  Figure out exactly went wrong.  Your camper comes home sullen and quiet.  You ask him/her what is the matter and all you get is 'camp sucked, I'm never going back'.  A bit of digging is surely required.  Ask your camper specifics about counselors, facilities, food, and other campers.  You may be able to trigger some response that clues you in to what went wrong.  If you cannot get anywhere a call or e-mail to the camp director or owner is called for.  A good director will be in touch with camper issues so if someone was unhappy throughout the summer they should be able to give you some information.  Of course, your camper may hop in the car and tell you exactly why the camp 'sucked' which will make your life easier.  If you find out that the camp lied in its marketing and did not offer certain activities, trips, or meals that were promised you certainly deserve some more information or financial renumeration from the program.
  2. Figure out what went right.  Kids, for the most part, will always find a way to have some fun.  It is likely that even if your camper absolutely hated their camp there will be one or two aspects that they enjoyed.  Maybe they liked one certain sport or they loved the theater program or they had fun living in a cabin.  If you cannot figure this out with your camper's help try looking through camp pictures - either taken by your camper or posted online by the camp - to see when your camper is smiling and having fun.  This will all help you in your search for a new camp.
  3. Search for a new camp, don't force the same camp!  Many parents will force their camper to give the same camp another try; maybe they are alumni of the camp or an older child loved it or another family in town sends their kids every summer or they are just unwilling to start the camp search over again.  Whatever the reasoning, the parents feel that their child will like their camp if they just give it another try.  Remember that all camps are not for all children but there is a camp out there for every child.  Just because an older brother had the time of his life at Camp Whatever does not mean it will be a good fit for all the kids.  It may be daunting to dive back into the camp search after you thought you had found 'the one' but camps, in general, do not drastically change in a year so if it was not a good fit last summer it probably will not be again next summer.  This camp search will be a bit easier because you will better know your camper's likes and dislikes and can narrow down what camps you are looking at.
  4. Start small.  A bad camp experience will impact both the camper and his/her parents.  A camper stuck at a camp that is substandard or just not a good fit for a number of weeks leads to unhappy letters home, phone calls, etc which will stress out (and traumatize) the parents.  It can be hard to even give camp another try with the fear that it could happen all over again.  Starting small at a new camp will allow both the camper and the parents to 'see the light at the end of the tunnel'.  A short one or two week program is an easy goal to start with while the camper builds up new confidence and the parents are able to relax and acclimate.  You can always stay longer next summer or add on to the camp stay if the camper is having a blast.
  5. Be supportive but not smothering.  Do not forget that camp is an opportunity for children to gain self confidence, step out of their comfort zone, make new friends, try new things, and grow as an individual.  A parent may be tempted to check in on their camper constantly at a new camp after a bad experience but they should not succumb.  Send fun care packages that they can share with the cabin or mail a funny card instead of calling the camp (or the camper directly) every day.  Tell the new camp what went wrong at the old camp...this is helpful guidance for directors to make sure their camp does not do a disservice to a new camper.

I hope that that was helpful!  I decided to write this post after having heard from dozens of families over the past few years that had had this problem and were looking for a fresh start.

If you are just getting in to the camp search feel free to take a look at my camp search advice posts:

Tips on picking a summer camp (part 1)

Tips on picking a summer camp (part 2)

As always, feel free to call or e-mail with camp questions!

617-855-WAKE (9253)