Camp Blog

July 15, 2016: The Importance of Downtime

Green Acres Camp is a very busy place, and at any given moment, visitors can find campers participating in a wide variety of activities. These activities stimulate creativity, provide new experiences, help to develop a skill, and are just plain fun! These activities are also one of the reasons many parents send their children to Green Acres.

One activity that is included in a camper’s day is downtime. Although the majority of our campers have graduated from a regimented nap time, it is important that we create space for campers to rest and rejuvenate. We take this quiet time seriously, as brain research suggests that everyone, including adults, needs an opportunity to turn off and let his/her mind wander.

“Creating regular and frequent time for the children to settle down and unwind is essential to keep them in balance. Quiet activities such as drawing, reading, and crafts can allow the child to ramp back energy levels and focus on something that is relaxing”. -L.J. Earnest

http://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifestyle/how-to-create-downtime-for-kids.html

According to Dorothy Sluss, Associate Professor of Elementary Education and Early Childhood at James Madison University, “Children, young children especially, do need time to play and explore and they need time to just do nothing”.

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/updates/whats-conflicted-parent-scheduling-childs-summer/

Campers in Junior Camp experience downtime in age-appropriate ways. Children in Kreative Kangaroos and Unit A rest quietly on mats. They are allowed to talk quietly, listen to stories, and read books, but some of them actually do sleep. Unit B and C campers play quiet games. They may draw, complete a craft, read, or simply relax. Once quiet time is over, campers are rejuvenated and ready to begin the next activity.

I have worked at Green Acres Camp since 1999. Each year, we review parent surveys and make changes to improve our program. This year, we slowed things down by adding time to our specialist classes and providing a longer activity period at the end of the day. In addition, we have maintained our quiet time. The result has been a calmer, more relaxed atmosphere where children have been able to focus on the activity in which they are participating. It is a new and different schedule than that of years past, but both staff and campers have benefitted. We continue to strive to make Green Acres Camp the place to be!

-Lynn Camacho

Posted by sarah on Friday July 22, 2016
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July 5, 2016

We had a red, white, and blue banner week at Green Acres! Campers have become reacquainted with old friends and have had an opportunity to make new ones. We were excited to see so many families at our Fun Run, which gave campers a chance to take a risk and try something new.

Sometimes campers feel uncomfortable about new experiences and need some guidance to turn negative thoughts into more positive ideas. Dr. Martin Seligman from the University of Pennsylvania, and author of several books including Kiss That Frog, suggests several ways that adults can help children in this area.

1. Model Optimistic Self-Talk- Discuss what might happen during your day ahead of time, and suggest a positive outlook such as, “I have a chance to try something new today at work!” Encourage your child to view an unknown or unfamiliar situation as a positive experience. You might want to ask him/her what new activities were offered at camp during the week and if he/she opted to try one.
2. Make a Mantra- Think of a slogan with your child that would be motivating when he/she is worried. “I think I can”, “I believe in myself” or something that would encourage your child to keep trying when he/she is worried. Reassure your child that you are in this together.
3. Take Action- Try new things as a family- even ones that might take your child out of his/her comfort zone. At camp, children are encouraged to take risks and to choose an unfamiliar activity. If your child doesn’t enjoy it, look at the situation in a positive light, and focus on what he/she learned from the experience.
4. Change Your Child’s Explanation for Adversity- Help your child change a negative perspective to a positive one. Rather than, “I can’t ever hit the ball because I’m a terrible kickball player”, you might suggest, “You just need more practice and we can practice together!” Dr. Seligman suggests you ask guiding questions such as, “What other explanations can you think of?” or “What can you do differently next time?”
5. Focus on Improvement- Help your child to be aware of his/her own improvement by commenting on it. Something as simple as, “Wow! You got ready really quickly for camp this morning!” or, “I’ve noticed you have been sharing a lot more about camp!” can go a long way to encourage a child’s improvement.
6. Be a Skill Builder- Kids develop skills in increments. Talk about skills that your child would like to develop, and make a plan together. Practice one step at a time and note the progress. Increase the challenge incrementally. Your child will build his/her confidence as he/she meets each challenge.
7. Recognize Good When it Happens- Sometimes children focus on the negative more than the positive, even when there are positives to report. Play the “Three Good Things” game in which you list three good things that happened at camp. You could share three good things that happened at work, especially if you were expecting some negative experiences.

Green Acres is a camp where we encourage creativity, choices, friendships, and fun! There are many opportunities to take risks and try something out of our comfort zone. Our counselors always try to put a positive spin on a situation and discuss what can be learned from a negative experience. We hope that some of these ideas will help parents to guide the pessimistic child to refocus his/her thoughts and actions to become more optimistic. Green Acres Camp; it’s the place to be!

Posted by aimeew on Friday July 8, 2016
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May 2016

Choices, creativity, friendship, and fun: these four words describe the foundation of Green Acres Camp. Children are accepted for who they are, and are encouraged to grow and develop under the supervision of caring counselors, many of whom are teachers. Flourishing for over twenty years under the direction of Marylouise Bracho, a dedicated administrator who ensures that her staff understand and apply the principles of progressive education to provide exciting and unique experiences for the campers, Green Acres Camp is a special place.

Green Acres Camp is steeped in tradition, yet it continues to grow and change each year. “Gully,” the amphitheater where the camp day begins, is just one of the places where memories are made. Special activities such as the fourth of July Celebration, the GAC CUP, and Fun Fridays incorporate camp spirit, camaraderie, and fun into a fun-filled six weeks of new experiences. Ideas gleaned from staff, campers, and parents contribute to improvements that are discussed each year to maintain a progressive and innovative curriculum.

Green Acres encourages campers to take risks in a safe environment. Activities such as “Rock Band,” “Woodworking,” and “Snap and Shoot” provide opportunities for campers to break out of their comfort zone and to develop new skills. They become more confident while enjoying themselves. In a short time, friendships are formed that last well beyond the summer, and lifelong memories are made. Campers are eager to return year after year.

Posted by sarah on Thursday May 26, 2016
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March 2016

Sally arrives at camp, excited to begin her day. She is greeted by warm and friendly counselors, who guide her to her place at Gully. She is entertained with songs, jokes, games, and cheers. Sally grows more confident and can hardly contain her enthusiasm as she heads to her unit. Her morning is filled with music, art, games, and swimming lessons. She is able to choose her afternoon activities and may venture into a sport she has never played! So many choices, new friends, and so much fun!

Ben, a senior camper, begins his day in woodworking. From there he travels to cooking, something he has never done before, and later he plays in a rock band. His afternoon provides a variety of activities from which he can choose. Ben is excited to take some risks and try something new, like ceramics! Next week he will travel off campus and spend two nights learning about the great outdoors.

These are just sample scenarios of the possibilities that await your child at Green Acres Camp, a camp that provides the convenience of a day camp with the off-campus experience of a sleep-away camp. A camp that fosters creativity, offers choices, develops friendships, and is fun!

Summer camp is an opportunity for kids to spend time in a quality environment where they not only learn new skills, but they learn about themselves. Working and playing with other kids help them to discover who they are, and how to get along with others. In an essay to parents about the importance of camp, Jeff  Merhige says, “camp is a gift we can give our children that they will benefit from and remember forever. If ever there was a time when the world needed a generation of future leaders who understood the intricacies of living in a community, having tolerance, and being open—that time is now.” See more at http://www.acacamps.org/resource-library/camping-magazine/why-world-needs-summer-camp-essay-parents#sthash.TLQEzTvH.

The time to send your child to camp is now. We hope to see your child at Green Acres Camp this summer when we will celebrate our 50th year of providing a quality camp for children!

Green Acres; it’s the place to be!

Posted by sarah on Wednesday March 2, 2016
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1/6/16

"You can learn new things at any time in your life if you're willing to be a beginner. If you actually learn to like being a beginner, the whole world opens up to you."

Barbara Sher

When was the last time you decided to try something new? Not an improvement of a skill that you already had, but something completely new and different? It’s a situation that requires one to put away fear of judgement and to be open to the unfamiliar. It encourages  you to use all of your senses and to figure out what style of learning works best for you.

Do you remember what it was like to learn how to ride a bike, to play a musical instrument or to use a computer? You made connections to what you already knew, but you were open to discovering what would happen when you tried a different strategy. You may have fallen or played a squeaky note, but experimentation lead to small successes, which caused you to persevere. Being aware of the fact that you were not an expert and were open to the experiences that came with learning helped you to enjoy your progress.

Children are generally better at learning new things than adults. They are anxious to experiment and see what will happen. They analyze the results and try again. If children are encouraged to persevere without criticism, they are open to taking their own path and their own pace.

Green Acres is a camp that provides new and exciting experiences for all ages. Campers are encouraged to be beginners, to experiment, and to take risks. Children who have never played an instrument before are able to perform at Parents’ Morning after a few weeks. Kids who might never have used a camera or played a sport are supported by their counselors to try! A whole new world opens up for them, which encourages them to continue be beginners over and over.

Try something new with your child. Be a beginner and show him/her that learning is a wonderful experience. Support your child’s ideas, even if they are different than yours. Discover together that there is a world of opportunity waiting to be explored if you are willing to be a beginner.

Come to our Summer in the Snow on January 9 to get to know us or to rekindle camp friendships.

It is sure to be a great learning experience!

Green Acres Camp: the place to be!

Posted by sarah on Wednesday January 6, 2016
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11/10/2015

So it’s November. That time of year when you breathe in that crisp fall freshness that reminds you winter is right around the corner. Or is it the month when Mother Nature lets us know who is boss as we vacillate between forty and seventy-five degrees in a matter of six hours? There are pros and cons to either situation, but no matter what the temperature is outside, it is a time to measure the temperature of our hearts.

November 26 is Thanksgiving, and whether or not you celebrate the holiday, it is a time when families tend to gather and count their blessings. This may manifest itself in the form of traditional foods, football games, or traveling to visit grandma.  But it can be even more meaningful if we introduce our children to the art of giving.

I say “art of giving” because choosing to spend time giving of oneself is as beautiful and individual as each child, and giving teaches children an appreciation for what they have. We all have blessings in our lives, and how we choose to share and appreciate them can become as traditional as a turkey dinner.

In addition to bringing joy to someone else, you give your child an opportunity to find what is special about him or her that can be shared with others. Is your child artistic? How about making greeting cards for soldiers who are not able to be with their families; or patients in a hospital unable to celebrate? Is your child musical? He/she can bring a smile to the elderly who would love a concert in a nursing home. Some homemade treats delivered to a lonely neighbor, or an overwhelmed mom, would be a heartwarming treat. The ways to give from the heart are endless, but kids sometimes need a helping hand to get started. For more ideas, check out:  http://www.cozi.com/live-simply/10-ways-give-back or http://lauragraceweldon.com/2013/06/27/40-ways-kids-can-volunteer-toddler-to-teen/.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, however you choose to celebrate it. We look forward to celebrating with you and your children at our annual Summer in the Snow on January 9 from 2-4 PM.

Green Acres Camp: the place to be.

Posted by sarah on Tuesday November 10, 2015
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September 25, 2015






“The most important reason for going from one place to another is to see what’s in between.” (From The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster).

There are many lessons to learn in life, and if we do it right, we never stop learning. We must be great observers and appreciate the wonders around us. Our ears must be open to new ideas. We need to take risks and touch the unfamiliar. Our palates should experience the taste of new experiences, and we need to breathe in the aroma of thoughts beginning to bloom. We must value the journey that we take as we travel from one destination to another.

“Then one day someone discovered that if you walked as fast as possible and looked at nothing but your shoes you would arrive at your destination much more quickly. Soon everyone was doing it…seeing nothing of the wonders of their city as they went.” (ch. 10, p.118)

We are often in a hurry to get where we think we should be, and in doing so, ignore the lessons of the present. How many of us are overscheduled and overwhelmed? We rush through our day, jumping from one task to another until we finally arrive home, exhausted. Our children, too, are shuffled from school to extra-curricular activities and back home in time to eat a quick meal, get the homework done, and go to bed. We are anxious to provide all of the experiences necessary for them to compete for the best schools, the best jobs, the best neighborhoods, in the race for success and future happiness. But what are we missing?

“Ah the open road!...The spirit of adventure, the lure of the unknown, the thrill of the gallant quest. How very grand indeed.” (ch.9 p.101)

While structure is necessary to complete the tasks that we are required to accomplish, it is also important to provide time to relax, to daydream, to think about new ideas, and to enjoy ourselves. Make time in your schedule to spend with your child. Enjoy playing in the park, making a craft, trying a new recipe, or playing a game. Give your child the opportunity to choose how he/she wants to have fun with you.

“It’s true that there are many lands you’ve still to visit (some of which are not even on the map) and wonderful things to see (that no one has yet imagined), but we’re quite sure that if you really want to, you’ll find a way to reach them all by yourself.” (ch. 20 p.255)

While your child is navigating through school and life’s responsibilities, encourage him/her to make his/her own choices and then analyze the results. Learning from the decisions we make is part of the journey.

Support your child’s creativity in all subject areas. When a child is creative, he/she expresses him/herself in as an individual. This, in turn, fosters independence and develops thinking outside of the box.

Throughout his/her journey, your child will need to interact with a variety of people and will have the chance to develop relationships. Support your child reaching out to make friends. Friendships can last a lifetime and all relationships teach us about ourselves.

Encourage fun! We all need relaxation and time to enjoy ourselves. Fun releases tension, boosts energy, and gives our minds a chance to be open to new ideas.

Choices, creativity, friendships, and fun; a part of life, a part of camp, a part of the journey.

Green Acres is still the place to be!

Posted by sarah on Friday September 25, 2015
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July 22, 2015

Parents’ Days, Theme Days, Fun Fridays, Movie Night; so many ways to celebrate being a part of Green Acres Camp! Our campers have been busy creating, learning, and growing. They have made friends and had fun. They have made connections with both campers and counselors, but camp has almost come to an end. How will your campers deal with saying good bye?

Children react to endings in a variety of ways. Some exchange phone numbers and promise to keep in touch. Some make keepsakes that will remind them of their experiences, and others become sad or even aggressive. Some children talk openly about their feelings, while others bury their emotions deep inside. How has your camper been dealing with the impending end of camp, and how can you help him/her?

  • Acknowledge your child’s feelings, but don’t dwell on the negative. Highlight the positive aspects of camp and the fun your child had over the course of 6 weeks.
  • Display keepsakes or artwork made in camp in your home.  Compliment your child’s creativity, and reminisce about his/her experiences.
  • Call and organize opportunities for your child to get together with camp friends. Don’t lose the connections made!
  • If you are in need of a babysitter, consider contacting one of your child’s counselors! It can be a win-win situation for both your child and the counselor!
  • Revisit what was learned in camp; songs, games, crafts, and even day trips! You will have a chance to maintain skills while enjoying positive memories of a great camp experience.

The staff at Green Acres Camp will end camp with entertaining activities that will focus on our key concepts; creativity, choices, friendship and fun. We hope memories have been created that you and your children can share throughout the year. Green Acres; it’s the place to be!

Posted by lynnc on Wednesday July 22, 2015 at 10:25AM
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July 10, 2015

The penguins are coming! The penguins are coming! We hope you are planning to join us for our community movie night! There will be singing, dancing, eating, and, of course, the showing of Penguins of Madagascar! You and your family will have another opportunity to connect with counselors and camp friends for a night of family fun!

It is hard to believe that we are beginning the second half of camp. It has been exciting to see new friendships blossom and campers reaching out to make new connections. Campers are learning how to cooperate and problem solve, all while having fun! These skills will be useful in a variety of settings, including (don’t say it) the up and coming school year!

While the majority of our campers make friends easily, there are some campers who struggle. They don’t seem to “fit in” and have trouble relating to others. Don’t give up! One strategy to deal with this issue is to prepare your child for social situations by practicing conversation techniques with you at home. If your child is comfortable with responses to possible scenarios, he/she may be better equipped to deal with a real life situation.

Another means of practicing is to invite a potential friend to your home and set up a controlled situation. With you there to monitor, you can model appropriate behavior, and help your child to participate in activities that both children would enjoy. For more ideas, you might want to read the article, “Coping with Peer Problems and Teaching Friendship Skills”, by C. Webster-Stratton Ph.D. (www.incredibleyears.com/download/resources).

The staff at Green Acres is a group of dedicated and caring individuals who are here to help any way we can. It is our goal to help your child enjoy making choices, develop his/her creativity, make friends, and most important, have fun!

Green Acres; it’s the place to be!

Posted by lynnc on Monday July 13, 2015 at 08:27AM
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July 2, 2015

Happy Birthday, America! We hope you were able to celebrate Red, White, and Blue Day with us at Green Acres. Our campers sported their patriotic colors, ran in our Fun Run, and participated in a spirited parade! To top it off, we were entertained by the exciting Blind Bike Trials. What a great day we had!

It’s hard to believe that we have completed our first two weeks of camp. We have been having so much fun! Campers have made new friends; have had the opportunity to take risks and try new activities, and have expressed themselves in a creative manner. Check out the Senior Camp murals currently displayed in the big room!

At Green Acres Camp, we encourage campers to take healthy risks. These might be in the form of sharing a joke at Gully, participating in an activity that a friend did not choose, or trying instead of saying, “I can’t.” Depending on the camper, each of these actions might cause one’s heart to beat a little faster and perhaps cause feelings of discomfort. However, choosing to break out of one’s comfort zone also contributes to healthy development.

As parents, we can facilitate our children’s development by encouraging and supporting taking appropriate risks. When your child expresses sadness that he/she didn’t get his/her first activity choice, praise him/her for trying something new. Ask questions about what the activity entailed and how it was enjoyable. Encourage your child to participate in an overnight even he/she is anxious. Talk about your experiences and the benefits of saying, “I’ll try”. Let your children know that developing a new skill takes practice, and that you support them. Try new activities as a family and model stepping out of your own comfort zone. 

For more information, you may want to refer to the article, “Healthy Risk Taking”, by Lisa Bottomley (Michigan State University Extension: http://msue.anr.msu.edu/news/healthy_risk_taking)

Creativity, Choices, Friendship, and Fun; all part of Green Acres, the place to be!

Posted by lynnc on Thursday July 2, 2015 at 02:52PM
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Catalogue School
11701 Danville Drive North Bethesda, MD 20852
301.881.4100
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