Friday, June 26, 2009

Week 1 - Share the "Cali-Camp Spirit"

What a wonderful week this has been for the campers and staff of Cali-Camp Summer Day Camp. It is so exciting for me, this being my 34th year at Cali-Camp, to see all the hard work of so many caring individuals come to fruition. A week or so ago we were all wondering if this thing called “Camp” would ever start. The anxiety for all, both campers and staff, was high, campers wondering if they will fit in with the other campers; counselors wondering if the campers will like them; directors wondering if all the staff will perform up to our expectations. I can proudly say “What a pleasure this week has been!” There is “Cali-Camp Spirit” throughout all of camp; children meeting and cultivating new friendships; staff members showing their “Super Staff” Skills everywhere and an overall feeling of accomplishment and pride in what we do.

The week started with all of the buses arriving on time and then morning introductions with camp favorite songs. The Junior Counselors sang “When you’re happy and you know it!” and the Senior Staff sang “The Cali-Camp Spirit” and we even video taped it and put it up on “utube”. First thing, we introduced all campers to their counselors and got them into “Circle Time” doing their orientations, playing name games and they were off to “play camp”.

This has been a week for campers to build group unity and learn all about each other. On Tuesday and Wednesday Groups made Group Banners which we displayed on the tree house and they created their Group Cheers and performed them on stage (pictures in Flickr). Wednesday was Crazy Hair Day and we had great participation from campers and staff as you can see in the pictures that were taken. It is really important for campers to participate in the camp special event activities, both for their level and quality of camp experience. If there is a dress-up day in a week help your child think about what they could do for their costume. You don’t have to go out and buy anything, make something up. Next Friday we are going to add Red/White and Blue Dress-up to our calendar for our 4th of July Parade and Celebration, so all they have to do is wear the colors, red/white/blue ribbons, hair, face paint, shoelaces, whatever you can find around the house.

We have many children with special needs at Cali-Camp who are being mainstreamed into the groups. One amazing, young autistic girl has been at our camp for a number of years and she has flourished. She has an aide who works with her to help with socialization and transitions. On Tuesday, the aide had something to do and couldn’t be at camp with the camper so the camper’s Mom came to be her aide. She went through the entire day with the group and later made a call to tell me how wonderful this experience is for her child. She was so thrilled that the campers in the group were so nice to her daughter and would encourage her and helped her learn to play a game. She said that in all the years that her daughter had been at Cali-Camp she has been happy, but these two counselors were the most remarkable yet. She said that they were spirited, caring, loving and were able to motivate all of the different personalities to participate in the activities by participating with vigor and energy themselves. It made me quite proud. I then shared her comments with our staff members. It made our day. The motto at Cali-Camp is “Catch them doing something right!” and guess what, those counselors went back to their group, knowing that they are making a difference in the lives of their campers and did an even better job the rest of the day. I am certain that they will have one of the best summers of their lives (and they have both been at camp for 8 years as staff members).

Thursday our Specialists in camp chose their Specialists of the Week to receive awards on stage. We give them all a huge Cali-Camp Cheer and take their picture for the bulletin board in the back of the lunch area (pictures will also be loaded into Flickr). Campers who receive Specialist of the Week are eligible, at the end of the summer, to be chosen as Specialists of the Year. On the last day of camp they are honored with a permanent placque and their names placed on our perpetual placques', etched in Cali-Camp history.

Today is Friday, Camper of the Week. Each group’s counselors choose 1 to 2 campers to receive Camper of the Week. We rotate from Friday to Thursday next week. They get awarded Camper of the Week within their group at Circle Time and at snack time today we take pictures for the bulletin board (pictures in Flickr). Children chosen as Camper of the Week throughout the summer are also eligible for the honor of Camper of the Year.

All in all, this first week has been one of our best ever, thanks to the responsible staff and campers who have shown their never-ending “Cali-Camp Spirit”. Until next Week… Join us for “We Love a Parade.” Check out our Special Events Calendar at


Pam Hawley – Cali-Camp Director

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