The Long Camp Trail for Gayle

Hey, Camp Fans!

Happy to receive roughly 30 entries for the ‘Share Your Camp Story’ Contest we put on here at Everything Summer Camp. And now we’re eager to share each one right here on the Blog! After seven lucky winners of larger prizes, all other submissions got a $15 gift certificate to our online shop! Today we have a submission from Gayle S., who wrote in to tell us about her experience saying goodbye to her daughter for her camp stay at Camp Longhorn. Camp Longhorn may very well be the camp for you. Check it out.

When I agreed to sign my oldest daughter up for the same camp that her dad attended, I was hesitant because I couldn’t imagine sending my 9-year-old away for two weeks. Two weeks without her mom or dad to hug her good night. Two weeks without her brother and sisters to play with. Two weeks of sleeping with a room full of girls instead of being in her own bed in her own room. I was certain she would be home sick and cry herself to sleep at least once, but camp wasn’t until the last two weeks of summer and that seemed so far off so I just didn’t think about it.
          lThe summer flew by as it tends to do each year, only this time we found ourselves ordering a teal trunk, labeling clothes and shopping for a battery-operated fan and stationery. We spent hours filling her trunk, lid organizer, and glide trays making sure that she knew where all her necessities would be. I hid notes of love and encouragement in a few strategic places. I wanted to make her first time at camp as easy as possible.
          lDropping her off at camp was quick and easy. Just jump out of the car, unload that pretty teal trunk, and hand it—and our daughter—off to the smiling counselors who were overflowing with excitement for the experience to come. I stopped the whole process to grab one last hug and a quick family photo and then drove away with minimal tears in my own eyes. The next two weeks we received a few letters from our daughter who was loving every minute of Camp Longhorn. We heard about finding arrowheads, zipping into the water on a trolley, new friends, and new experiences. We saw photos the camp posted each day and saw our daughter bouncing on a blob, dancing, and having fun with her cabin mates.
           lFinally V-Day arrived and while we were met with huge hugs, there were no tears. Instead we had introductions to new friends, a guided tour of her favorite camp places, a taste of some daily camp rituals, and we added a bunny from the petting zoo to our household. She had thought of us often and missed us a little, but the nights didn’t end with her crying, instead she was lulled to sleep by cicadas. She had a room full of new sisters and will miss them terribly until they are reunited next summer. I realized that this experience wasn’t depriving me of my daughter for two weeks, but instead it was giving her safe place to grow in new ways. She embraced the same traditions and experiences that her dad had many years ago, and I often overhear her telling her younger sister, ‘Next year at camp, you are going to absolutely love…’ Attawaytogo Camp Longhorn! Thank you for making me and my daughter part of your family.

I’m glad you made your peace with summer camp and that it was such a blast for your daughter, Gayle! We hope that next year is just as good for her and for your younger daughter too! You can check out Camp Longhorn for yourself right here and, as always, thanks for reading!

- John

Find a Camp Now, in the Fall!

Hey, Parents!

Are you planning on sending your kid off to their rookie year at overnight camp next summer? Or maybe you’re just looking to change things up for your experienced camper. Either way, you’ve got to select a summer camp. And, believe or not, whether you want it to be or not, there’s no better time than the present.

Starting your summer camp search in the middle of autumn may seem a little too far in advance, but this is certainly the ideal season to start researching camps and narrowing Look into summer camps now with your soon-to-be-camper.your choices. After all, most summer camps fill up their available spots several months before they open.

There’s also a lot to do on your end before camp starts like scheduling a physical exam, obtaining everything on your camp’s packing list, preparing your camper and yourself against home/childsickness. Not to mention, how busy you are with the rest of your life, the fall season is the best time to find a camp of the finest quality.

If you wait until June to sign your kid up, the remaining spots available are sure to be at summer camps of second rate quality. You want the best you can manage for your kid, no doubt. So don’t procrastinate. It’s pretty much never too early in the year to start thinking about which camp to send your camper to.

Speed up your search by looking for camps whose directors have a long tenure, whose staff is comprised of mostly former campers, and whose camper return rate is above 75%. Still, while speeding up the process, be sure to appreciate the time you spend with your kid—including them in the process every step of the way.

For more great tips and words of advice about when, where, why, and how to send your kid off to camp, check out ‘The Summer Camp Handbook’, written by summer camp experts, Dr. Chris Thurber and Dr. Jon Malinowski—available right here on our summer camp for all your camping gear needs. Enjoy getting your head start on the search for your summer camp and, as always, thanks for reading.

- John
Look into grabbing 'The Summer Camp Handbook' for yourself right here!


Al was no Athlete..

Hey, Summer Campers!

In the month premiering the autumn season, I thought I’d write a couple sports-related Celebrities at Summer Camp posts. In the first week of October, I wrote about legendary sports writer, Seth Davis. I picked another Davis for the post today—we’re talking about Al Davis, the previous coach of the NFL’s Oakland Raiders. The principal owner and general manager spanning 39 years, Al certainly left a piece of himself in this football team.
Al Davis sure knew how to get what he wanted.
No longer with us, Al lived a long, full life—starting all the way back to the beginning. He was born on the Fourth of July in Brockton, Massachusetts, 1929. Attending Camp Roosevelt in New York, he spent his summer days making friends and putting together basketball games. And, despite his strong affiliation with the world of football today, at that age, he was passionate about basketball.

His desire to play basketball followed him into his high school days when he met Coach Al Badain from Erasmus Hall High School. Turns out, despite his love for the game, Al just wasn’t very good at basketball. Coach Badain barely played him and, instead, Al spent a lot of time on the bench, studying Badain’s coaching technique.

Though he continuously proved himself to be unimpressive as an athlete throughout his college days at both Wittenburg College in Ohio as well as Syracuse Univ., he started gaining lots of interest in the strategy in football. He’d hang out on the football field during practice drills and never missed a game. He even took a couple academic courses for football strategy—classes only ever attended by football players.

To make up for his athletic inability, Al discovered an admittedly arrogant and brash side of his personality that he effectively used to aid his climb to a coaching career in a sport that he had no experience playing. It’s kind of like the opposite of charm—but Al made it work for himself. After graduation, he went for a position on a college football coaching staff.

After a personal meeting with the president of  Hofstra University, he had the position. With his foot in the door and coaching experience, he set his sights on the professional world next. Al struck after the worst year of a team’s history—Oakland Raiders in 1962. They lost their first 13 games and Al gladly stepped in to replace Red Conkright as head coach.

His motto for the team became “Just win, baby” and under his passionate coaching, the Raiders became one of the most successful teams in the entire league. He remained on the coaching staff far into his old age. Al passed away five years ago. Al did what he loved. What will you do? As always, thanks for reading!

- John

Ashley L. Says it Well.

Hey, Camp Fans!

We were please to receive somewhere around 30 entries for the ‘Share Your Camp Story’ Contest we put on here at Everything Summer Camp. And now we’re eager to share each one right here on the Blog! After seven lucky winners of larger prizes, all other submissions got a $15 gift certificate to our online shop! Today’s post is from Ashley L., who wrote in to tell us about her experience saying goodbye to her daughter for her weeklong camp stay at Gwynn Valley. Check out Anna's camp place.

Driving through the windy, mountainous roads of North Carolina, the Ramona the Pest audio book was barely audible over the constant chatter of my overzealous nine-year-old. Even though this is her third year to go to ‘sleep away’ camp, she still anticipates the first day of camp with the same fervor as a child waiting endlessly for Santa on Christmas Eve. ‘Who will be in my cabin?’ ‘Will my friends be there from last year?’ ‘I hope my favorite pottery counselor comes back!’ Anna fired off questions like she shoots arrows in archery – fast and spot on.

We arrive at camp to horses at pasture, the mountains framing the scene. As we pull into the camp parking lot, counselors are greeting everyone and helping to unload van after van. One child has a giant suitcase that drags across the gravel parking lot before the counselors swoop in to help. One of the best purchases I made years ago was to invest in a sturdy trunk, a blue one with handles on the side, now covered with bumper stickers announcing places that have been visited. Although our trunk was definitely heavy, it was easily lifted and carried to Babbling Brook, the cabin where other giddy nine-year olds were waiting to meet the other new arrivals.

Anna’s excitement was palpable while my sadness was bottled up – for the time being. ‘Put on a brave face,’ I tell myself. You see, my daughter has a severe nut allergy, and letting her out of my sight is tough. I trust my daughter and I trust this camp to keep her safe. The truth is that I will miss my daughter each and every day that she is away.
Meanwhile, my anxiety grows. As I walk back to the car, I am a little giddy. A week to myself?!! Yippee! What am I going to do? I reach the end of the camp driveway, look back at the horses at bay, and my mood slowly changes. My short-lived enthusiasm waned as I sadly repeated, ‘What am I going to do with a week to myself?’

Four o’clock every afternoon, I check the camp website for pictures. By the sixth day of camp, there are only 10 pictures of my daughter. Wait a minute. Out of 500 pictures, there are only 10 of my daughter? Maybe she’s so busy that they cannot catch her to take her picture.

Finally day 7—pick up day. It turns out that my daughter really was so busy that I am amazed that the camp was able to get as many pictures of her as they did! Anna tried basket weaving, tree climbing, mountain biking, kayaking, yoga, pottery, bracelet-making, and on and on. All handmade artifacts were carefully packed in her trunk and organized in her special trunk organizer. Brimming with excitement as she saw her father and me enter her cabin, she began the same chatter that happened when we dropped her off. ‘Look what I did. Come see this. This is Beth, Sally, and Laura. I climbed this enormous tree!”

After all of the good-byes were said and a few tears were shed, back in the car we went for the long ride home. Ramona the Pest was playing loud and clear, and as I looked to the back to gaze at my sweet girl that I had missed terribly, she is sound asleep, dreaming of the next summer at camp. And the countdown to camp begins.

A week can feel like a long time, Ashley! Glad you made it through! I’m sure it all feels worth it now. I hope Anna’s future camp stays can go a little easier on you. On the flip side, it sounds like Anna had an awesome time at camp! You can check out Gwynn Valley for yourself right here and, as always, thanks for reading!

- John

Visit Huckins for a Happy Summer!

Hey, Summer Campers!

Everything Summer Camp loves everything about summer camp! That’s why we’re good friends with about 250 camps from all across the country! And I’m happy to tell you all about what excellent camps they are. We’re sliding our swinging our spotlight over to New Hampshire for a good look at this great girls camp who’s worked with us for a quite a while now.
Get into the Huckins spirit this summer!YMCA Camp Nellie Huckins Girls Camp has shown girls the time of their lives with enriching and fulfilling activities that guide them onto a path of subtle but effective maturation. Located on the shores of the lovely Lake Ossipee in the town of Freedom, New Hampshire, these beautiful, remote campgrounds has been the home away from home for girls since 1928!

From third grade to first-year high schoolers, Nellie Huckins campers experience either two or four weeks of absolute fun and serious personal growth simply by being away from parents as well as the reputation that we all carry at home.

Huckins currently welcomes 1300 campers each year for awesome opportunities involving sports like Soccer, Volleyball, Tennis, Softball, Archery, Mountain Biking, Dance and Drama, Environmental Education, Hiking, Horseback Riding, Ropes Course, Swimming, Tennis, Waterskiing, Boating, as well as indoor fun like arts and crafts time, but indoor sports too, like basketball and street hockey or even air hockey, foosball, and ping-pong!

Ten campers are accompanied by two counselors in each of over 20 accommodating and comfortable cabins. With an excellent Dining Hall, Craftshop, Health Center, Program Office, Chapel, and more, Huckins is an attractive space to spend a portion of your summer, but even more than that—it’s a place to find yourself as well as some lifelong friends.

Enjoy checking out everything that’s so amazing about Camp Huckins for yourself. You can visit their website right here and get a good look at their map below. As always, thanks for reading!Check out their cool camp map.

- John


Hey, Fun Fans!

At Everything Summer Camp, we pride ourselves on knowing what campers will find cool. This new game we started carrying ought to receive some attention and stir up some excitement. We’ve got Spikeball! Maybe you’ve already heard of it. It’s the perfect volleyball alternative for fun at summer camp and trips to the beach!

This game is awesome! A fresh twist for 2-on-2 volleyball, because this game is played with a trampoline for the “net”, it relies heavily on spikes and drop shots that send players diving around. This is an extremely addictive yard game, so when you finally play it, get ready to fall in love.
Enjoy playing Spikeball with all the freinds you make at summer camp. Here’s how you play the game:

The game really is played the same as four-player volleyball—the only difference being that instead of hitting the “spikeball” over the net, the players hit the ball ONTO the net (a.k.a. the trampoline). When the ball bounces off the net it is the opposing team’s chance to return it.

Just the same as volleyball, the teams are allowed to pass the ball back and forth up to three times before they are forced to return the ball by bouncing it into the trampoline.

Your team loses the point when you are unable to bounce the ball off the net before it hits the ground.

To serve, simply toss the ball up (not very high) and hit it downward onto the trampoline. After the ball has been served, sides don’t exist; teams are able to use the entire area around the trampoline.

Games are played to 21 with each serve registering a point. Spikeball rules state that teams must win by two. That it, the team has to win by a margin of at least 2 points.

If you want to get official about it all, you can check out the official rules to Spikeball right here. Have a blast with your friends when you pick up your own Spikeball game set right here. Be sure to check out the fun video below and, as always, thanks for reading!

- John

Maddie S. Thinks Camp is the Best!

Hey, Camp Fans!

We were please to receive somewhere in the neighborhood of 30 entries for our ‘Share Your Camp Story’ Contest here at Everything Summer Camp and so we’re eager to share each one right here on the Blog! After seven lucky winners of bigger prizes, all other entrants got a $15 gift certificate for our online shop! Today’s post is from Maddie S., who wrote in to tell us about her and her best friend, Lily who she met at camp. Hear Maddie's story about her best friend, Lily.I have been going to YMCA Camp Seafarer for 6 years. My mom went there 30 years ago. When I was 6, my parents sent me to starter camp. Starter camp is a one-week program that introduces you to the lifestyle of camp. There at starter camp, I met a nice 6-year-old girl, named Lily. That week I grew closer to her and we became best friends. We have been coming back together as best friends for the past 6 years. On starter camp pick up day, our parents met and, they too, became close friends. Lily’s parents even invited my family over to their beach house for dinner. The next year we stayed together the night before the two-week program that week. That program lets you go free without a counselor to any activity. You can go out with anyone and earn ranks together. Lily and I earned every rank together. The next year we went for a month. We got so much accomplished during that month. Since then, we have been each others cabin mates for the past 6 years. At the end of every session, we have awards and a fancy dinner. For the two-week and four-month programs that we have done, every year we have earned the Dynamic Duo in the award ceremony. At camp, I truly met my best friend. Now, our families are good friends, but we will always be best friends.

I hope you liked my camp story.

We do like your camp story, Maddie! We do! How lucky you and Lily are that your parents sent you to summer camp!—And how lucky THEY are! Maddie loved her time at Camp Seafarer. You can check it out for yourself right here and, as always, thanks for reading!

- John

Only you can prevent forest fires, but we can all prevent house fires.

Hey, Students of Safety!

Today is National Fire Prevention Day and the rest of the week is dedicated to bringing awareness of effective tips for preventing uncontrolled fires. Last year, I posted tips about the proper way to start (and put out) an outdoor fire. The year before that, I shared tips to avoid uncontrolled indoor fires. There’s an important piece, however, that should be stressed from the latter post—

Outlet and electrical appliance safety!

Electrical fires are within the top five causes of house fires. And having recently said goodbye to the summer season, we’re all about to spend a lot more time indoors which inevitably means plugging even more things in on a regular basis. A great way to observe National Fire Prevention Day is to scope out your home in search of electrical connections that violate the following rules:
Frayed or otherwise damaged cords aren't worth using.
Don’t Use Electrical Cords in Poor Condition
The exterior of a cord is known as the jacket. If you happen to spot any cords with frayed jackets, these cords are at risk of using exposed wires which is never a safe practice. Older appliances are notorious for having loose or otherwise unsafe cords so pay special attention to older appliances like vintage lamps, radios, or old television sets.

Don’t Overload Outlets  Don't plug in more than your outlet can handle.
You certainly don’t want to draw too much electricity all to the same spot. A full surge protector can be too much for one outlet to handle. Try spreading out the source of power for so many different plugs.

Be Safe Using Extension Cords
Extension cords are handy, but they can also be a fire hazard when not used properly. Extension cords should never be ran under rugs or heavy furniture. You suse extension cords with caution!hould also be careful not to overuse an extension cord. They easily deteriorate when overstressed which can lead to an unhappy electrical shock to you. Extension cords are not permanent solutions to your power needs.

Ensure your safety and check your house to make sure you’re following these rules. For further safety, you can check to make sure your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors are working and discuss an emergency exit plan with your family. Have a safe day today, and as always, thanks for reading!

- John

Seth Davis thought camp was the Greatest!

Hey, Summer Campers!

We all know camp is popular, but did you know that more than 11 million folks go to summer camp every year? That’s A LOT of people! And since seemingly everybody and their mothers went to summer camp at some point, it’s not surprising toLearn about sports world writer and former summer camper, Seth Davis. discover the loads upon loads of famous celebrities who were once summer campers just like you.

While some former summer campers like Lady Gaga or Chevy Chase go on to achieve super-stardom the world over, other celebrities are stars within their own realms. Seth Davis is a name well known among the sports writing community. He’s a sports columnist, author, and former summer camper.

He attended Camp Equinunk in Pennsylvania, beside the Pocono Mountains where he enjoyed 400 beautiful acres of fields and wooded trails shared with the sister camp, Camp Blue Ridge. The camps are separated by the camp-owned 75-acre private spring-fed lake.

Born in Potomac, Maryland, Seth went to the Bullis School which covered elementary grades through to twelfth grade. He then went on to graduate from Duke University in 1992 and directly pursued a career in sports writing. Having written as a sports columnist for his university’s daily campus newspaper, ‘The Chronicle’, it seemed only a natural path to follow.

He landed a position at Sports Illustrated covering stories including the NFL, NBA, college basketball, as well as local high school sports. But Seth had more to say than what he could do in a sports column.

He wasn’t done talking about summer camp!

So he wrote a book that was published in 2003 called ‘Equinunk, Tell Your Story: My Return to Summer Camp’ that talks about what camp meant to him. It meant enough that he went back to camp to be a cabin leader back in the day.

You can check out his book right here. Summer camp led Seth to the freedom to do what he loved for a living. Where will it lead you? As always, thanks for reading!

- John

Lucy B Shares Her Camp Story!

Hey, Camp Fans!

Having received around 30 entries for our ‘Share Your Camp Story’ Contest here at Everything Summer Camp, we’re eager to share each one by publishing them right here on the Blog! We had seven lucky winners and then everyone else who submittCamp Takodah fun awaits...until next summer!ed received a $15 gift certificate to our website! Today’s post is from Lucy B., who wrote in to tell us about her first year at overnight camp.

I had a lot of fun at camp! This was my first year of going to sleep-away camp. I made new friends, tried some new activities and made amazing memories! One of my favorite memories is when I was at the lake with some of my friends! We were all in small inner tubes and one of my friends (Lily) was trying to teach Audrey, Elsie, and me how to do a backflip out of the tube. It was so fun because none of us could quite get it right away and we all looked really silly! Audrey was the first to get it, however, and she and Lily kept trying to help Elsie and me but we just kept falling on our faces or falling backwards instead! Eventually we got the hang of it but that was a memory I would definitely keep! That was also the day I jumped off the tower for the first time! At the waterfront there is an 8ft tower that most people were scared to jump off of, but not me! I had read about the tower online and it sounded really fun so Audrey and I decided to jump off it! It was so cool and Audrey and I loved it so much that we decided to jump off it again (and again, and again, and… you get the point)! I had so much fun and made so many friends at camp that I signed up for next year and I hope to sign up for many years after that too!!!

Sounds like a pretty hysterical time, Lucy! I don’t think I could pull off a smooth backflip, but it sounds like you finally got it down. Lucy loved her time at Camp Takodah. You can check it out for yourself right here and, as always, thanks for reading!

- John