Make Opening Day A-Okay!

Hey, Camp Parents!

The camp season is upon us and Opening Day is a BIG day for campers, parents, and staff alike. This post is the first of three throughout July that will focus on the important parts of navigating opening day, visiting day, and closing day at camp. Summer camp experts Chris Thurber and Jon Malinowski break down the six most important elements of a successful Opening Day in their comprehensive guidebook, ‘The Summer Camp Handbook’:

Make a Travel Plan
You’ll want to add an additional hour or two to your travel time when headed to camp. You might need to stop along the way for a toothbrush, pillow, or any other items that you suddenly realize were left at home. Plan a relaxed trip. Stop for lunch if camp opens in the afternoon. If camp registration starts in the morning and you live far from camp, it might be wisest to make the trip the day before and spend the night nearby. A positive attitude is key on this trip as it sets the tone for your kid’s entire camp experience!

Complete Registration
Registration is a way for the camp to ensure that everyone who is scheduled to arrive has made it to camp. Punctuality is important for camp registration; early arrivals inevitably interfere with the last-minute touches the staff is making. Be ready to meet directors, check in, get assigned a cabin, see the medical staff if you need to, unpack your kid’s Put your shoes on and get ready for summer camp!gear, and meet the staff. If you won’t be able to be with your kid at registration, you’ll need to complete some basic pieces of Opening Day by phone or mail.

Meet Your Child’s Leader
There are likely to be more than just one cabin leader who will be working closely with your kid this summer, but you’ll want to be sure to meet at least one of them. Open up to them about any physical, behavioral, emotional, and medical issues they should know about with your kid. It’s smart to ask the cabin leader questions about themselves too to give yourself a better idea of whose hands you’re leaving your child in. Ask questions about their own experience at camp, where they go to school, where they live. It’ll make you feel better.

Address Medical, Behavioral, and Emotional Concerns
Be sure to talk with the camp director and a representative of the medical staff about any concerns you have—especially medical conditions such as asthma, allergies, recent injuries, illnesses, physical disabilities, or any others. The decision about whether to share information is up to you, of course. However, it is hardly ever beneficial to leave the camp in the dark about significant issues. Had staff been informed about a problem or concern, they could have helped out right away instead of guessing at what a problem is.

Allocate Spending Money
Most camps do not allow campers to keep cash with them. Therefore, the camp may ask you to allocate spending money for your child to purchase items at the camp store, buy projects at the arts and crafts shop, pay for out-of-camp trips, and so on. Some camps include spending money in the registration fees; others ask you to make a deposit when you register. If the camp does not publish a suggested amount in their information packet, ask the director how much spending money is adequate. You’ll get back whatever is leftover at the end of the session.

Say Goodbye
It’s smart to ask your camper ahead of time how long they want to hang out together at camp before parents head home. Some kids want their parents to stick around, others are ready to push you out the door. How will you say good-bye? A short walk? A hug and a kiss? Just a hug? A high-five? Talking it over now will make your good-bye go more smoothly. Also, once you’ve said goodbye, you should make your resolved departure. Lingering or unexpectedly returning can increase your kid’s anxiety.

To get even more great information about these six elements of Opening Day, pick up your own copy of ‘The Summer Camp Handbook’. Enjoy Opening Day as best you can and tune in next Monday for tips about Visiting Days at camp. As always, thanks for reading!

- John
Get your own copy of The Summer Camp Handbook for a wealth of information about sending your kid to camp the right way!

At camp, it’s ON…very much unlike Donkey Kong

Hey, Gamers!

Innovation and technology in the video game field have been sweeping the nation since they got their start in the 70’s. From Tetris to Mario, Donkey Kong to Madden NFL, the world of video games has boomed in popularity with advancing possibilities. A leading branch of entertainment, a lot of good can be said about video games and their proficiency in experiential learning—just check out this Ted Talk from gaming expert Jane McGonigal.

Ray Montgomery—founder of Choose Your Own Adventure books said, “experiential learning is the most powerful way for kids, or for anyone, to learn something. It’s not lecturing, it’s experiential—hands-on learning. To a great extent, that’s gaming.” Choose Your Own Adventure books give readers interactivity, multiple-choice, and multiple-endings to make reading less of an academic challenge and more like a game!

Most overnight camps don’t allow video games. But if games are a good thing, why aren’t they allowed at camp?Video games are far from a bad thing, that just don't belong at camp is all.

Summer camp experts Chris Thurber and Jon Malinowski tackle that subject in their informative guidebook, ‘The Summer Camp Handbook’. Kids feel good when they win in a game they like. It boosts self-esteem and gives off a sense of ‘mastery’. Video games give kids control. And control is extremely important to kids who live in a world mostly controlled by adults.

Kids are told where to go, what to do, and how to do it all day long, but not in a video game. There the decisions are up to them. In a video game, YOU shoot the attacking zombies, YOU discover the secret exit, YOU defeat the boss. Video games sharpen skills and strengthen enthusiasm.

Camp, however, is a time to get back to nature. Camp does all the same great stuff of boosting skills and enthusiasm—it just does it among natural settings with the chance to physically participate in activities (not just virtually). As ‘The Summer Camp Handbook’ puts it, “The independence and self-esteem you gain won’t be spoiled by electrical blackouts, computer glitches, or soda pop in the joystick.”

You’re sure to survive a few weeks or even a month or more without video games no matter how much you love them. So look forward to a little hiatus with them and get out and enjoy the natural surroundings that you’ll experience at summer camp and, as always, thanks for reading.

- John

Ed takes the Helm

Hey, Camp Kids!

Summer camp’s extreme popularity among the youth has been growing since summer camp got its start in 1861. Nowadays over 12 million kids attend camp every year! With numbers like that, it’s not too surprising to discover that a lot of former summer campers are now famous celebrities! In fact, it’s likely that summer camp helped them find the path that led to their fame!Funnyman Ed Helms!

Ed Helms—best known for his role as Andy Bernard (a.k.a. The Nard-Dog) on the hit television program, ‘The Office’—was a summer camper himself back when he was a youngin’. Attending Camp Carolina, Ed spent his camp days exploring 220 acres of the Blue Ridge Mountains as well as 450,000 acres of the bordering Pisgah National Forest.

The youngest in his family with two older siblings, Ed had a fun childhood outside of summer camp as well. He had to grow up quickly, however, when he had open-heart surgery at just 14 years old! The procedure fortunately corrected a severe heart murmur that threatened young Ed’s life!

He attended The Westminster Schools alongside his buddy Brian Baumgartner. The two didn’t know it at the time but they would end up working together on ‘The Office’. Brian plays Kevin in the show!

When he went to Oberlin College, he started as a geology major but switched over to film theory and technology before long. And he graduated in 1996 and immediately began to establish a career in comedy and acting. He wrote with sketch comedy bands in New York City and studied improv with the Upright Citizens Brigade—a well known improvisational troupe.

He also found work as a trainee film editor at a post-production facility in New York City. There, he recorded some rough voice-overs that eventually brought him paid voice-over work. And this led to Ed finding his talent agent.

Work started coming in for Ed then and it wasn’t very long before he was brought on board as Andy Bernard in the mockumentary style show, ‘The Office’. The writers of the show created Andy—someone who Ed had a lot in common with. Like Andy, he is obsessed with a capella music, despite his proficiency with musical instruments such as guitar, banjo, piano, and even sitar.

Very into music, it’s no surprise to learn that Ed formed a band during his time at Oberlin College with his friends Ian Riggs and Jacob Tilove. The band still plays shows about once a year and put out their first album a few years ago.

Celebrated for his work, Ed was asked to deliver the convocation speech for Cornell University, Andrew Bernard’s alma mater! Summer camp got Ed going on the right path. What kind of path will camp put ahead of you? As always, thanks for reading!

- John

A Texan Collection

Hey, Texans!

Whether you hail from Texas, attend camp, or go to school there, Texas pride knows no bounds. If you call the Lone Star State ‘home’, then take a look through our Lone Star Twin Sized Plush Blankets Collection. Quite possibly, the softest blankets you’ve ever felt, turn every nap under the Lone Star sky into a luxurious dream. Catch your Texas Zzzz’s with your pick from our excellent Lone Star Blanket Collection.

CowboysThe Dallas Star Logo
An essential bedding item for any cowboy, show your team pride with one of these great Dallas Cowboy blankets. Featuring the Cowboy’s Dallas HelmetLone Star team logo on one and a victoriously raised helmet on the other, these blankets help you support your team.


LonghornsGet your game face on...horns included
Playing their way to prominence in college football, Longhorns have a rich history of recognition including individual awards and inductions into the College Football Hall of Fame. Longhorn cattle being a crucial factor in the development of Texas, if you identify with Texas steers, then this is the blanket for you!

Curl up with this special Texas A&M blanketAggies
Some nicknames just stick. ‘Aggie’ was, at one point, a common name across the country for a student attending a land-grant—or AGricultural—school anywhere across the country. Throughout history, the term was dropped everywhere except the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas—Texas A&M.

TexansHouston Texans are on the rise.
If you’re loyal to Texas but the Cowboys aren’t your team, jump over to the AFC side of the fence and wrap up with this luxurious Houston Texans blanket. Unafraid of civil war in the Lone Star state, the Texans are the youngest NFL franchise with an animosity toward their counterparts in Dallas. Support your team and stay warm with this blanket.

These blankets are perfect for a chilly night at summer camp and will become an essential piece of bedding keeping you warm in the dead of winter. Pick your favorite Lone Star Blanket and snuggle with unimaginable softness! As always, thanks for reading!

- John

What was up with King George?

Happy Fourth of July, Compatriots!

For 240 years, we have been celebrating our freedom from the rule of any other country but ourselves. That’s why we make it a pretty big deal once a year to enjoy our freedom on the Fourth of July. Back in the colonial days, around the 1750’s, our ancestors madeThe original 13 before the other 37. settlements in ‘The New World’ in an attempt to flee the unjust government of Great Britain under the rule of King George III.

But still pulling the colonial strings from across the Atlantic Ocean, King George implemented unfair taxes and unfair laws over the colonies. To much dismay of George, the settlers increasingly felt that they were able to be its own government—independent of British rule. They fought back.

Couldn’t we all just get along? Well, ol’ George was turning into quite a villain as he continued to make life pretty unfair for everyone in The New World with his unrelenting taxes and unjust laws. He acted so brasThe original 13 before the other 37 came along.hly that modern historians have started posing the question, ‘What was up with King George anyway?’

Known as ‘the mad king’, many agree that George must have been crazy to have driven 13 colonies out of the British Empire. Was he literally crazy? Yes, he was. It turns out that George battled with insanity throughout his life. In fact, his condition reached levels of such severity at one point that he was restrained in a straitjacket. He’s recorded to have had fits of rage, shouting, hallucinations, confusion, and extreme pain.

The cause of his mental state is thought to be connected to a metabolic disorder called porphyria. Porphyria attacks are known to create extreme agitation and confusion. They The king was off his rocker, for sure!can cause nausea as well acute pain in the abdomen and make speech difficult for the victim. By the end of his life, the mad king had gone blind, deaf, and absolutely mad.

So, poor George may not have been such a bad guy after all—just absolutely nuts. In any case, he certainly was not fit for kingly duties and we owe our independence to the colonists who recognized the injustice of their situation and aimed to correct it. Happy Independence Day to our fellow Americans and, as always, thanks for reading!

- John

Fun in the Protected Distance Away from the Sun!

Hey, Sun Soakers!

This Sunday celebrates National Stay Out of the Sun Day—a recognized holiday that reminds us to stay safe when the sun beats down a little too hard. Intended for those torpid summer days that bring about a lethargy that knows no equal, take heed of this day’s advice and keep cool indoors when the high sun becomes a little much to enjoy.

Of course, we offer a giant selection of products like sunscreen, water bottles, and fans to help battle sluggishness and restore some of your energy when the sun tries to zap it all from you! Check out these great recuperative camping gear products that you can use to resist the effects of a summer scorcher!Great sun protection for your little gator.

If sun exposure is unavoidable for you, be sure to protect yourself against harmful UV sun rays pelting down on your skin in brilliant sun showers! Our Sunscreen selection is full of fun misting sprays, gels, and wipes to encourage young ones to apply and reapply as needed. These are kid-safe and natural formulas from trusted brand names like Aloe GHave a sip!ator, Supergoop!, and Burt’s Bees.

Water Bottles
Be sure to quench your thirst today! Your body NEEDS water in order to maintain good health and it goes through its supply even quicker when the weather is hot, hot, hot! Make sure you replace the water your body uses. We have bottles to keep cold drinks cold for hours and hours in order to make refreshing hydration almost effortless!This fan knows funk!

Cool off! Just as crucial to your health as hydrating and wearing sunscreen, staying cool in a refreshing breeze keeps you from overheating. Heat exhaustion can be a consequence of sweltering temperatures, physical activities, or both. Heat exhaustion typically gives you a headache and weak feeling. It tends to make people confused, dizzy, nauseous, and unquenchably thirsty. Keep some fans blowing on you when you’re feeling this way!

Heat exhaustion is no fun, but luckily the cure is pretty simple: relax indoors with fans on you along with lots and lots of water. Keep cool today and, as always, thanks for reading.

- John