The holiday season is upon us. Familiar tunes play on the radio, people rush around in shopping malls trying to find “the perfect gifts” for family members and friends, and neighborhoods begin to transform into colorful festivals of light. The air seems to whisper, “Hurry, hurry, hurry!” as people rush through their days. Despite the hustle and bustle of this holiday season, there is an underlying need for us to give to others; an attempt to find true meaning underneath the superficial.
Giving can occur in many ways, we just need to think outside the box. What kind of gifts would be meaningful to others? Usually, they involve:
- spending our time
- making connections
- creating memories
Visiting a nursing home to entertain the elderly, making and delivering holiday cards to people in the hospital, and volunteering in a homeless shelter are just a few ideas. Children will experience the affect that their time and generosity have on others. When thinking about gifts we can give to our own children, “Wellness Mama” outlines some ways to share experiences rather than just things in her article, “46 Ways to Give Experiences Instead of Stuff” at http://www.parenting.com/ .
Rather than spending money on the latest gadget or toy for their children, parents can think about taking a class together, building or creating something, or going on an adventure. Family members will enjoy the opportunity of spending time with one another, and the memories will last a lifetime.
You might want to check out http://www.onehundreddollarsamonth.com/10-ideas-for-giving-experiences-instead-of-gifts/ , https://www.mainstreet.com/article/why-more-families-say-no-to-big-gifts-and-what-they-do-instead , and http://www.zeit-statt-zeug.de/en/ for more ideas about how to give differently during this holiday season.
Spending time with one another, making connections, and creating experiences can continue throughout the year and into the summer. Green Acres Camp focuses on developing our community by offering choices, incorporating creativity, fostering friendships, and, of course, having fun. Our spirit of giving is supported each summer through a community service project, which involves the entire camp. The camp community has organized several successful book and food drives for the Maryland Book Bank and Mana Food Center.
On January 7, Green Acres Camp invites you to our annual “Summer in the Snow” event, where you and your children will have the opportunity to experience our philosophy of creativity, choices, friendship, and fun first hand! We hope to see you there. Until then, have a happy, healthy, and thoughtful holiday season!
Green Acres; it’s the place to be!
It’s October. In fact, it’s almost the end of October. School is in full swing, kids are thinking about Halloween, and teachers are realizing that the first marking period is almost over. It’s the time of year where the weather can’t make up its mind whether to hold onto the summer heat, or dive into the brisk snap of fall. Does one continue to drink iced tea, or switch to pumpkin spice lattes? Well, one thing is for sure: it’s time to start thinking about camp again.
Camp, in October? That’s right! The administrative team of Green Acres Camp is pulling out the surveys, reviewing evaluations, and planning for another fantastic summer! We will be inventing new games, creating exciting projects, and tweaking our programs to ensure that campers will have a fantastic time in 2017. We are a dedicated bunch, and we love what we do.
Meanwhile, there are all kinds of excitement for the rest of this month. October 24 is National Food Day. It’s an opportunity to focus on eating healthy foods and to cut out all that sugar that sneaks into our diets. Check out http://www.foodday.org/about to learn how you and your family can participate!
Not into health food? How about celebrating National Chocolate Day on October 28? To find out how you can join in the fun, visit http://fortune.com/2015/10/28/cheap-chocolate-nationa-chocolate-day/ and learn about the health benefits of dark chocolate!
October 29 is both National Cat Day and National Oatmeal Day! Warm up with some oatmeal goodness, and think about adopting a furry friend. Read about the top 20 ways you can celebrate at http://www.nationalcatday.com/celebrate, and http://news.health.com/2013/10/28/7-fun-oatmeal-facts-for-national-oatmeal-day/.
Finally, October 31, in addition to being Halloween, is National Knock Knock Joke Day! Have you heard this one?
A little old lady.
A little old lady who?
I didn’t know you could yodel!
For more fun, check out http://amomwithalessonplan.com/knock-knock-jokes-for-kids/.
Enjoy the rest of October, and have a safe Halloween! We’ll be looking forward to seeing you at our “Summer in the Snow” celebration on January 7!
Green Acres Camp—it’s the place to be!
I'm so glad we had this time together,
Just to have a laugh, or sing a song.
Seems we just get started and before you Know it
Comes the time we have to say, "So long".
-Joe Hamilton, Theme from “The Carol Burnett Show”
Despite our continuing hot weather in September, camp seems a million miles away. We had a grand time, as usual, and campers left their friends and counselors that last day with hugs, high-fives, smiles, and tears. Camp was six weeks of new experiences, friendships, and fun; memories that are now stored away for safe-keeping.
Green Acres Camp provided opportunities for children to grow and develop by offering choices of activities that piqued their interest. The variety of experiences encompassed the arts, sciences, sports, and swimming. Campers learned to work in teams, as well as to value their own creativity. Learning took place, and a sense of accomplishment was recognized.
School is now in session, and another chapter in the lives of our campers has begun. We hope that some of the skills they learned and that sense of adventure will be applied to the academic environment. New friendships will be made and old ones rekindled. A sense of wonder will flourish as students are introduced to new concepts. Those encouraging words spoken by a counselor to take a risk will tug at their hearts as they volunteer to greet the unknown.This is where the lessons of camp will bloom again.
As the weather turns colder, campers will have another opportunity to ignite those fond memories during our “Summer in the Snow” celebration on January 7. Excitement will grow again as campers and counselors are reunited. Laughter will fill the gym as children immerse themselves in the variety of games and activities presented. It will be a time of celebration, for Green Acres is not just a fun summer camp, but a special place where traditions are significant, minds are opened, friendships are fostered, and children are cherished. We hope you join us!
Green Acres Camp: it’s the place to be!
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
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”.
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!
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!
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.
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!
"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."
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!
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.
“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!
Choose groups to clone to: