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

Friday, June 5, 2009

The Most Bang For Your Buck

As an owner and staff member of Cali- Camp for over 40 years; as a parent and grandparent; and as a psychotherapist; I find new meaning in the words - “Keep within one’s compass and cut one’s coat according to one’s cloth”.

I think, unlike years in the past, when the economy has been soft and parents have still managed to send their children to the high-end camps, this year presents a new challenge. The question many parents are asking is, “Where can I find the best camp experience for my child at the least cost?”

It may be that parents are very reluctant to pull any money from the budget they have set for their children’s summer learning experiences. They will, in many cases, sacrifice their own needs and vacations, so that their children can enjoy an enriched summer experience at camp. However, I do believe parents are considering their financial situations in a very serious manner. I also believe that most parents make their financial decisions with a serious commitment to the total value of their child’s summer camp experience. And so they face the dilemma, “Where and how do I get the most for my dollar without compromising the quality of the camp experience”?

There are many reasons why we send our children to a particular camp. We hope:

• That the camp we choose provides a community and environment in which our children can expand their skills and thrive.
• Our children, while attending camp, will make new friends by interacting with other children of different backgrounds and interests. Thus, they can expand their own vistas.
• Our children will learn independence and interdependence in the camp environment.
• Our children will learn to compete sensibly and with compassion and humility in the camp setting.
• That our children will build self-esteem and confidence.
• For confirmation that our children will be in a camp setting that is safe and comforting.
• They are able to enjoy their camp experience in a place where the beauty of nature is apparent, soothing and at always at their fingertips.

If we do not sponsor the magical experience of camp for our children because we feel we cannot afford the cost of camp then we might hire a sitter at $10 an hour for an 8 ½ hour day. That amounts to $85 a day at the very least. When one compares the cost of a sitter for 8 ½ hours to the cost of day camp for the same time we begin to appreciate the fact that camp is a very well priced service even at $100 a day. We begin to appreciate that camp is a true bargain.

When you evaluate the cost of camp per day and add to that the offerings of an on site camp, that maintains a trained staff which returns year after year because they love children and the awesome experience of seeing a child’s eyes open in awe at our environment. Once again we see that camp is really a bargain.

Add to that experience, hot meals, a nurse on the premises, an owner/director that has an investment in every child’s positive camp experience, transportation to and from camp, an expert who assures that the drivers of the vehicles are certified and the vehicles themselves are as safe as can be, an opportunity to schedule flexibility into your enrollment; and many other extras such as a camp site that doesn’t move each day, but instead provides continuity and familiarity.

From the aforementioned paragraphs, one can easily come to the conclusion that there is a correlation between what you spend and the quality of the camp that you select.

Just like any other business owner we want our camp (which is a business) to run in a cost efficient manner. We want our groups to be full and still give each camper a maximum camp experience.

Don’t be afraid to ask for a discounted rate. Special arrangements can be made for payment of camp tuition. As we near the opening of camp and especially in this economic environment we will work with you to give your child the best possible summer experience. We do not want to turn away a single camper because they can not afford our camp. We want you to use our flexible scheduling program to ease your way into your child’s camp budget.

I hope you have a very good summer and look forward seeing you and your child at Cali-Camp on our most incredible natural environment under the guidance of our most incredible staff.

Yours for quality day camping,

Sue Rowen