Here we go again! The second 2 weeks were just as wonderful as the first. Check out the action below!
The first two weeks have flown by and what a way to kick off the summer. It is such a wonderful experience watching Echo Hill transform when the kids start to arrive. It's difficult to put it into words so hopefully we can sum it up with these two slideshows below. Whether you are thinking about Echo Hill, or a parent/camper looking to revisit your days at camp, we hope you enjoy.
Here's to the rest of the summer!
Again and again, research continues to show the benefits that summer camp can have on a child. Sending your child to summer camp offers him or her the unique opportunity to develop positive self-esteem, leadership, creative expression, confidence, and other life skills in a natural environment. In our increasingly technological world, summer camp also gives your child the ability to “unplug” from their iPhones, Facebook, and TV and disconnect from the distractions of everyday life. The community fostered and the activities offered at camp create a fun and safe environment in which your child can develop and grow. Below are our three big reasons, however check out the links below from other experts and their opinions on the benefits of summer camps.
Children spend less time outdoors today than at any other time in human history. This change in children’s lifestyles has contributed to increasing health risks as children display more obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure than in previous generations. However, besides the health benefits of playing outside, the social-emotional impact can almost be more impressive. Kids imagine more. They become more creative as they develop games and activities that a video game cannot allow. Young children also learn through their senses. Experiencing the wind blowing, the wetness of rain drops and a cool breeze before a storm, can teach kids more about our environment than any TV could. The outdoor light stimulates the pineal gland, the part of the brain which regulates the “biological clock.” This gland also serves a vital function for the immune system and generally makes us feel happier.
Summer camps such as Echo Hill are designed to embrace the outdoors, some more so than others. Seeing children leave camp with a new found appreciation for the outdoors is one of the great benefits of our job. The best part is they discover this appreciation on their own, we just provide the environment for them to explore.
At summer camp, not only do campers get the opportunity to participate in new physical experiences such as Sailing or Water Skiing, but what is often overlooked are the new social experiences in which they will be immersed. From living with bunk mates, to making friends, summer camp is an opportunity that is hard to replicate. The campers they will meet come from different socioeconomic backgrounds and cultures and they will quickly learn that though on the surface there may be some distinct differences; at the core they are very similar.
Positive Role Models
In such a structured environment, children interact with positive role models who have time to listen, talk, relax, and reflect. They learn to work together, make choices, take responsibility, develop creative skills, build independence and self-reliance and gain confidence. Older campers are some of the best positive role models we have. They learn the benefits of being in this role from the campers that have come before them. At summer camp, there is an added "coolness" to being responsible. To send your child to camp it can be inferred that you trust them to make good decisions. We help foster that inner responsibility and hope that campers carry this understanding with them for the rest of their life.
If you're thinking about sending your kid to summer camp, that's great! The benefits of summer camp are extensive, but remember that not all summer camps are the same. Be sure to do your research to find a camp that would be best for your child!
With St. Patrick’s day having come and gone, I thought about how silly, yet enjoyable this holiday has become. There are many who might argue against the evolution of this holiday. Like many others, it's difficult to track the traditions of today to the meaning behind it all. I am currently a High School Science Teacher and yesterday I looked out over a sea of green students and thought to myself…”I wonder how many of these students can tell me who St. Patrick was?” My answer: I’m not even entirely sure who he was. What I did know however, is that these naive students were having the time of their lives. They were a community that day, more so than other days. Their differences were overshadowed by a holiday that they knew very little about. How cool is that! It’s as if somebody woke up and yelled to the world…
”HEY! Let’s wear green today!”....And everybody did.
Now, please forgive me if the humor behind this particular celebration is lost in translation, but it is a memory that I still smile at today. Long ago, when I first became a counselor at Echo Hill, my co-counselor and I sat at the same meal table with our family of campers. We ate every meal together and grew a bond that was tough to break. Having spent so much time together, I picked up on a few small habits that our campers developed. One would always eat a spoonful of peanut butter after his lunch. Another young lady would always mix her ice tea with lemonade for dinner. She made it for me once. It was delicious. But the one I remember most was this one camper who had a bowl of peaches and yogurt for every breakfast. It wasn’t the bowl of tasty peaches that threw me for a curve, but the way that this young man ate them. For his first bite, he always attempted to fit as many peaches on the spoon at a time. He would ever so slowly bring the spoon to his mouth and if one fell, he would attempt again. Something I secretly tried and found very difficult. I was astonished by the dedication. I wanted him to know that I recognized his effort but I wanted to do it in a meaningful way.
So I developed a plan….
During dinner the night before, I discussed my plan with the table while this young camper was off playing tetherball. I wanted to celebrate his achievement in a way that was special for him. Why? Why not. It’s summer camp. We can celebrate whatever we want. The next morning it was business as usual. We gathered around the flagpole for flag raising, then shuffled into The Whip (the dining hall). I’m not sure if this young camper noticed but our table was somewhat quieter than normal. Once our meal was served, everybody noticed the camper get up and walk to get his bowl of peaches and yogurt at the breakfast bar. Upon his return he sat down. You could hear a pin drop. There was silence. Though the silence was odd, he never noticed the shift in tension towards him. He stirred around his bowl and everyone secretly watched. Then it happened. He found three peaches and barely fit them on his spoon. These were three larger than average slices. The difficulty meter was off the charts! Slowly... he began to raise the spoon out of his bowl and then it started. Everyone slowing began to make an anticipating sound like you were watching a buzzer beater half court shot in slow motion. A low pitched ooooooohh. As he delicately brought to spoon higher, the table got louder. Everyone fixated on his spoon which slowly moved higher. We got louder. He began to notice. We were so nervous! Would he make it?! Would the peaches slip off back into his bowl? The anticipation was palpable. You could see him start to make the connection and there it was...the smallest grin. Why were we doing this? He had no idea but we were and the pressure was on. His peach performance had gone not only noticed but was now being recognized. He continued his approach up to his mouth shaking ever so slightly. Everyone got louder. Campers from other tables began to notice and join in. Pretty soon a quarter of camp was glued to the non-existent television to watch the performance of a lifetime. He got closer. Everyone was getting louder! And then… with great confidence... TOUCHDOWN!!! He made it! The Whip went NUTS!!! Everybody was running around. Jumping for joy. High fives were everywhere. It was like we all won the lottery at the same time. Kids were congratulating him. I pulled out some homemade confetti and threw it about. He looked around with astonishment and then put his hands up in the air with a grin ear to ear, playing along with this ridiculousness. And before you knew it, everyone was back at the table and we all dug in. It was our own personal 4 minute holiday, perfectly executed. The best part? We barely talked about it later. It was a special moment that needed no recalling. In fact, I’m not sure I’ve told more than 2 people this story until now. This was something that I can only imagine at a place like Echo Hill.
Echo Hill Counselor 2008-2014
With the season of giving upon us, we here at Echo Hill want to give thanks to the people and things that bring us so much joy during the summer as well as the rest of the year as a whole. We may not be able to sing “We Love You…” a la Bye Bye Birdie from over the internet, but we hope this post provides the same heartfelt thanks nonetheless.
3) Thank You to our summer staff. From the camp counselors to the dedicated kitchen staff, we admire your hard work to make the day-to-day schedule of camp exciting and vibrant. It is easy to see the pride you take in your work and we are thankful for your passion and creativity.
4) Thank You to our longevity. It is a somewhat known fact that in the summer of 2014 we celebrated Echo Hill Camp’s 100th summer. It is a rare feat to see an institution like a summer camp age with such grace while maintaining an omnipresent zest for excitement and adventure. We want to thank everyone who passed through Echo Hill during its time in business, including the three generations (so far) of Rice’s who have had a hand in affecting and improving camp. Thanks to you, Echo Hill’s fire of life is burning strong.
5) Thank You to the campers! Last but certainly not least, we are thankful for Echo Hill Campers, without whom none of this would be possible. Every summer the children of Echo Hill breathe unique and vivacious life into our slice of Maryland heaven. Your experience each summer makes it all worthwhile.
We hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
Here at Echo Hill, we know that choosing a summer camp that fits the needs of your child can be a daunting task. Should it be close to home or across the country? Should you try and choose a camp where you already know some of the campers? Or should you choose a camp that is completely new, even if that makes your camper a littler nervous? What activities and program structure works for your child? These are just a few of the questions that run through parents heads prior to settling on a summer camp. So how did we choose Echo Hill? How does anyone land upon that one summer camp that they hope will be apart of their lives for years to come? Take a look below at the 4 ways Echo Hillers and many other camp-bound families made their decisions for the first summer of overnight camp.
2. Who you know ahead of time?
Many campers go to summer camps with friends from school as this might help facilitate the process of meeting new people. However, others are fond of the idea of not knowing anyone ahead of time. This helps reduce all expectations of how to act and allows campers to start their summer camp experience with a blank slate. There is no right or wrong answer. We have had campers from both of these perspectives and the only consistent outcome that we notice is that new friends are made either way. This is a personal choice and most summer camps should support both ideas, as we do. If you are nervous about sending a camper somewhere alone, then mention this to the summer camp. They should be more than happy to help your child make new friends. After all, that should be a priority for every summer camp!
4. What might your child do with their summer?
You should also keep in mind the general theme of the summer camps you are looking at, how they are run, and what your child can gain from them. Some camps specialize in one area, like competitive sports camps or drama camps, while others are well rounded. Many folks chose Echo Hill due to its well rounded yet flexible program where campers can go with a focus in mind, but are not limited to that focus if a new activity sparks interest while attending.
Contributions to the Echo Hill Blog are done by staff, campers, parents, and alumni. We hope you enjoy!
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