reasons for camp

Recruiting season is on!

While we LOVE our returning campers it is important to always be finding new campers to fill our bunks. Ryan has been traveling around New England meeting families and talking up our program. Recently he has attended events in Greenwich, CT and Amherst, NH. 

If you happen to see us out and about please stop by and say hello! As always, we offer a $300 referral bonus for every new camper you send our way so help us out and we will see you this summer!

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.

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)

-Evan

Why all camps are "fat" camps

Check out this university study about the health benefits of summer camp! Going to camp is good for you!

We at Water Monkey Camp have known this for a long time.  We serve ridiculously good food and keep our campers active all day, every day.  While we are guilty of letting our campers indulge in snacks sometimes, we do mostly stick to fresh fruit instead of candy and processed food (gushers excluded).

Here's to camp!

Top 5: Reasons you should go to camp

Let's say you are fortunate enough to have the option to go away to summer camp this year.  Awesome.  Whether you choose our camp or another worthy establishment, here are our top 5 reasons why you should take advantage of that opportunity and leave home for a few weeks.

  1. Step out of your bubble! - Staying at home and chilling with friends is fun and safe but it will never push you like a few weeks at camp will.  It is too easy to fall into a routine and become complacent with life when you should be out in the world experiencing new adventures.
  2. Make lifelong friends. - Camp is like a friendship incubator.  You meet a new friend on the first day and two weeks later you are best friends for life.  Sharing every minute of every day with a group of people lets you learn everything there is to know about them and about yourself as well.  Groups of campers happen to all choose a particular camp based on common interests and goals.  It is inevitable that you will find at least one new best friend in the group; probably more.
  3. Learn new skills. - Whatever camp you choose will most certainly teach you some new skills.  There are all-around camps that offer a variety of offerings and specialty camps that focus on specific sports and activities.  It is important to arrive at camp with an open mind, ready to learn.  Camp counselors are hired for their expertise in their field and will work with you to achieve any goal you set out to accomplish.  There is nothing like the feeling of driving back from camp and telling your home friends everything you learned while away.
  4. Increased confidence. - At summer camp you gain a sense of independence and confidence that others may not achieve until years after - possibly in college or when they enter the "real world".  This confidence comes from being away from parents, teachers, siblings, and home friends and having to step up and make things happen for yourself.  This is not to say that there is no safety net at camp and that you will be cast out on your own; on the contrary, learning to find new resources in other campers and counselors is key to having a great time and growing as an individual.
  5. Do something in the summer that you will actually remember. - When you look back at all of your summers it is hard to remember what you did on a certain day or certain week or certain month.  The summer can drift by, school will start again, and you may have nothing significant to show for it.  A summer spent at camp - even partially - is an entirely different situation.  While away at summer camp nothing matters but having fun and engaging in activities that you are interested in.  New memories will come from everywhere: pulling your first wakeboard trick, an exciting camp trip, a particularly fun meal, or even a funny morning wake-up call.  Talk to someone who goes to camp, they will instantly start going off about memories from past summers like they happened yesterday.

So get out there and don't let this summer pass you by!