Nut Free and Proud Of It!

As Halloween approaches, please keep in mind that some children suffer from food allergies that could be lethal, if the wrong food is consumed. Here is a link to a list of candy that can satisfy the nut free sweet tooth:

Did you know that Greenwood Trails is nut free? We take campers’ health and safety seriously. This coming season, we will become even stricter with our nut-free policy. Here are the things that we do to help to ensure that children with a food-allergy are safe:
1) Our chef works closely with food vendors to ensure that all of the products that come in to our kitchen are nut-free. All packages are read upon delivery to confirm that no traces of nuts are in our packages.
2) Our chef makes alternative meals for children with other food allergies, and we always have a salad bar and soy-nut butter and jelly sandwiches on hand for the picky eaters!
3) We inspect every package that is given to campers. Any food product will be confiscated. We ask that parents abide by our policies so that children with allergies can remain safe.
4) We have a registered nurse on-site and other certified staff members who are able to administer an epipen if needed.

All children have a right to have a fun and safe summer and we are happy to provide that at Greenwood Trails!

Wise Words from a GWT Staff Member

This excerpt is taken from Suze’s blog post, “Things That Summer Camp Taught Me.” Suze enjoyed her first year at Greenwood Trails this past summer. She is currently a Media Studies Digital Arts major at St. Michael’s College in Vermont. Suze is also a valued member of her school’s rugby team, which is undefeated and currently competing in the national playoffs. Go Suze!!

…Everyday I miss camp more and more. I can’t talk about it enough- the laughs, the friends, the memories. It was the hardest, most tiring job I have ever worked but the best three months of my life. Working at camp has also taught me a ton of stuff. Yes, there are the trivial facts, but then there are the things that I now carry with me for the rest of my college career and the life ahead of me. Here are some of the things that I have learned.

“If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” Yes, self explanatory, I know. But it is crazy how quickly most people seem to forget this. It is one thing that I pushed to my kids at camp and it made a huge impact. I took the time to thrust the importance of manners and being courteous on my kids. It is one thing that is so simple but yet can get you so far in life. Professors, bosses and possible friends look for people who are nice and who have manners. It is something that will follow you for the rest of your life.

“Being goofy is seriously underrated.” Seriously. I mean, let’s be honest, how many times do you get the opportunity to dress up as the opposite sex, MC a talent show, dress up as a character from Harry Potter or celebrate Halloween in the middle of August? If your answer was never, well then, become goofier! Summer camp taught me that it is ok to unleash the crazy. It is totally normal to step out of your comfort zone and become something that you never imagined. We get so wrapped up in how others perceive us now a days that sometimes we just have to wear crazy high socks and paint our faces to step away from everything.

“Help out for the communal good.” I will be the first person to admit that I hate cleaning. Like really REALLY hate it. At camp this summer, we had chores everyday and I will also admit that I was right there moaning with the kids that we had to do them. Both my kids and I learned quickly that the more we work together, the faster the chores get done. If you finish your chore before the person sweeping, offer them an extra hand. When we help each other out, things get done so much faster and that allows for extra time for other things that we may find more enjoyable. This can be a great tool in a school setting as well as an office setting. There is always that saying that “two heads are better than one”, I guess in this case we can modify it a little to say that “four hands are better than two.”

“Money doesn’t always equal happiness.” No, I did not get paid all that much this summer. No summer camp counselor gets paid a ton, that is to be expected. I suppose the point of it all is that the joy of the job does not come from the money that you make from it. The smiles you get from campers and the friendships you make with other counselors are priceless and will most likely last longer than the money awarded to you in your paycheck. I guess the take away from it all is that later in life when I actually have to grow up and become a functioning member of “adult” society, that the job that I will have will make me happy no matter the sum of money that I am making. I can only hope that a job that I possess one day gives me as much joy as this job has brought me.

“Be enthusiastic about everything.” One of the best memories I have from this summer is from a campfire that me and a few other counselors had to run. I can honestly say that I have never been that enthusiastic about an event in my life. I have never been so happy about ITS P-A-R-T-Y ITS PARTY TIME AND YOU KNOW WHY in my entire life. Being enthusiastic is one of the best things a person can possess. It makes people around you get excited about a situation even if that situation isn’t ideal. You should always be enthusiastic in everything you do.

I suppose those are some of my “take aways” from camp.

Here’s a Great Article on the benefits of Sleepaway Camp!

By Rachel Pomerance
June 6, 2013 RSS Feed Print
Sleepaway Camp: A Remedy for Overparenting?

“What was the sweetest moment of your childhood?” is a question psychologist Michael Thompson regularly asks adults. Eighty percent of the time, he says, they’ll recall a memory in which their parents weren’t present. Why? Because the thrill of that moment often was steeped in the exhilaration of independence, says Thompson, author of “Homesick and Happy: How Time Away from Parents Can Help a Child Grow” and a psychologist at an all-boys school near Boston.

At a time when many American parents manage the minutia of their children’s lives well into college – a trend broadly referred to as “overparenting” or “helicopter parenting” – the above exchange serves to remind parents that letting kids go lets them grow. And, according to Thompson and other experts, sleepaway camp provides the perfect occasion.

Amy McCready, founder of Positive Parenting Solutions in Raleigh, N.C. and author of “If I Have to tell You One More Time …,” considers overnight camp training ground for adulthood – and a potential prophylactic against so-called boomerang children. “So many parents have 20-somethings who are coming home, and they can’t get them to fly from the coop, but how will they ever learn to do that if they don’t have opportunities to practice?” Summer camp provides a “structured, safe, well-supervised environment” to do that, she says. “It’s not like you’re sending them off to the city to go and fend for themselves.”

Still, it’s not easy for this generation of parents to let go, says McCready, who includes herself among the ilk of educated, later-in-life, highly-involved parents. “When they’re younger, it starts out to keep them safe, but we have a hard time backing off from that,” she says, explaining that walking a kid to the bus stop morphs into driving a half hour to deliver cookies at camp. “Eventually, we’re calling the college professor because our kid got a C on his philosophy paper.”

If sleepaway camp seems like a good option for your family, here are some tips to prepare you and your child for an adventure experienced by 6 million American school-aged kids each summer:

1. Take baby steps. If your child can’t make it through the night at grandma’s house, he or she is not ready for sleepaway camp, says parenting expert Michele Borba, author of “The Big Book of Parenting Solutions: 101 Answers to Your Everyday Challenges and Wildest Worries.” Borba recommends a trial run with a weekend retreat, like those offered through a local scouting group or Boys & Girls Clubs of America. Then, ask the counselors how your child fared to determine whether he or she is ready for a week or four away.

2. Anticipate their worries – and yours. Allay any concerns by preparing for them – be it a food allergy or fear of swimming. “If he’s scared to death of the water, then let’s take a couple practice swim classes before you go,” says Borba, who also suggests going online and looking at pictures t of the camp beforehand to help your child get acquainted.

If your child is shy, you may want to role play meeting new people and shaking hands, McCready says. And don’t hesitate to register your concerns with the camp staff – even if it’s about how to rein in your own tendency to “helicopter” in. “It is clear parents today are more anxious than their peers were 20 and 30 years ago,” says Peg Smith, CEO of the American Camp Association. “That said, the partnerships between parents and camp directors have increased. Parents are encouraged to share their concerns with camp directors who are prepared to respond with responsible, informed answers.” She also recommends verifying a camp’s accreditation – “some of the best evidence the camp is committed to your child’s safety.”

But whatever you do, try not to show your concern to your child. “Don’t let your anxiety come through. Deal with that on your own,” McCready says. As Borba puts it: “Keep yourself calm because your kid is feeding off of you.” And when you do say goodbye, make it a quick and matter-of-fact one, she says. “You can cry in your own car.”

Remember, too, “every child’s going to have little pangs” of homesickness, she says. (According to Smith, only 1 to 7 percent have homesickness that requires intervention). Talk to the counselor before rushing to rescue your child, Borba advises. “If it doesn’t work at all, and he’s shattered, then so be it. There’s always next year.”

3. Celebrate unplugging. If the camp doesn’t allow cellphones, don’t flout the rules. “Trust the [camp leadership] that they’re going to do the right thing for your kid,” McCready says. Have everyone in the family write something in an old-fashioned letter, she says, and send it so it gets to camp by the time your kid does. The correspondence provides both parent and child with a rare and special memento. “Don’t send emails to the camp counselor,” which can suggest a lack of confidence in the child’s ability to handle the experience, she says.

4. Make this time count for you. You know that thing you want to do that you can’t seem to find time for? Here’s your chance. “Organize your closet, or take a vacation or if you have other children at home, that’s an opportunity to do special time with them,” McCready says.

5. Remember why you’re doing this.

According to Thompson, there are certain things parents can’t give their kids – such as happiness, self-esteem or friends. And there are other things that “the magic of camp” provides: social skills, leadership training and new relationships with counselors, kids, nature and even oneself. Among the hundreds of campers he interviewed, the most frequent comment he heard about camp was: “I can really be myself here.”

If you need something more concrete, McCready suggests making a list of everything you want your kids to get out of the camping experience, and fix it to the fridge for regular reassurance.

Greenwood Trails has Day Camp!

What are the benefits of a day camp, you ask?

The summer months can be pretty long if your child has nothing to do while waiting for school to begin again in the fall. Day camp can fill the gap – by helping your child learn a new skill, make friends, exercise, or have an adventure. But day camps aren’t just about preventing summer boredom, they can also help working parents who still need child care for their children.

If you’re on the fence about sending your child to day camp, consider all the benefits of such programs.
The Benefits of Day Camp
Day Camps Prepare Kids for Overnight Camps: Attending an overnight camp can be a wonderful experience for a child, but not all tweens are prepared to stay away from home for a week or two. Day camps give children the opportunity to experience a camp program, without the worry of homesickness. If your child enjoys a day camp program, it might convince him to try an overnight program in a year or two.

They Can Keep Your Child Out of Trouble: Let’s face it, if your tween spends the summer days without much adult supervision, he could walk right into trouble. When left alone tweens may experiment with dangerous behaviors, such as smoking, drinking, or even vandalism. If you’re worried that free time could lead to disaster, consider a day camp program as an alternative. Many city and county parks and recreation departments offer day camps through the summer, for children of working parents. Programs are usually themed by the week, to offer variety and interest to campers.

They Offer Skill Building and Enrichment: If you pick the right program, your child’s day camp experience will teach new skills, or introduce your child to new interests. Most regions offer a variety of camp programs, including sport camps, art or theatre camps, science camps, adventure camps, music camps, outdoor camps, or even specialized camps for cooking, archery, or film. Sit down with your tween to discuss the choices available, to see what might interest him.

They Can Be Affordable: Childcare is never inexpensive, unless you’re lucky enough to have grandparents nearby. But day camp programs can be affordable, if you take the time to research your options. YMCAs, parks and recreation departments, schools, and even service organizations such as the Girl Scouts offer programs at a reasonable price point. These groups often waive or reduce their costs for families facing financial challenges, so be sure to ask about camperships or other programs that might help you afford tuition. Be sure to ask if the camp provides lunch, snack or transportation, as that can increase your overall costs.

Camp programs that are offered by museums, or that are privately owned may have very interesting programs, but the do tend to be a bit more expensive.

They Offer Flexibility: The popularity of day camp programs and the need for them makes finding a camp that works within your budget, and your calender, pretty easy. Whether you’re looking for a day camp for the entire summer, or just one week, there are bound to be several choices to choose from. Consult local schools, churches, regional parenting publications and other parents to learn about the camps offered in your area.

They’re Fun: The main reason you should consider a day camp program is because they can be a lot of fun, and that’s what summer is all about. If your tween has some say about what program he attends, it’s likely that he’ll have a fun experience, and learn a thing or two along the way.

Saving kids, one summer at a time…

Beneath Amy Chua’s personal struggle in Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother lies a deeper ambivalence about learning: What on earth should we do with our children outside of school, during unstructured free time? Chua is at times conflicted but wryly proud of her intense, authoritarian solution, a luxury reserved for high-achieving, high-functioning parents. At the end of this best-seller, I felt rattled by Chua’s belief that education happens only in connection to school or homemade settings that are rigorously academic.

So entrenched is this education–school link that year-round school is routinely proposed as the answer to educational deficits among US youth. Ironically, summer holds the potential to endow children and adolescents with the life skills and values they need to become healthy adults with important careers that make meaningful contributions to society. Formal schooling has tremendous value, but one key to a complete education is a high-quality camp experience.

Research on the benefits of summer camp has conclusively validated 150 years of conventional wisdom. Camp does accelerate the development of young people’s social skills, self-esteem, independence, spirituality, sense of adventure, and environmental awareness. Astute camp directors know that combining community living away from home with a natural setting and a recreational premise creates hearty, happy, healthy children who know how to work together, win with humility, and lose with grace. They become resilient, motivated, and emotionally intelligent.

In the United States and around the world, visionary adults have created excellent children’s camps; our challenge now is to give camp to many more children. For every child who attends summer camp in the United States, there are about five who do not. Ethnic minority children, including Chua’s own biracial children, are especially under-represented at US camps.

Since biblical times, wise adults have outlined the youthful precursors to successful adulthood. Every decade or so, a new group of adults laments the shortcomings of that generation’s youth and restates their vision about how those young people can overcome their failings. Most recently, The Partnership for 21st Century Skills recast the optimal outcomes of youth development as aptitude in: professionalism/work ethic; oral and written communication; teamwork/collaboration; and critical thinking. If corporate America is smart enough to understand that applied skills are essential for success, when will parents wake up to the importance of summer camp?

Summer camp was predictably absent from the recommendations in Are They Really Ready to Work? (co-authored by The Partnership). Yet the report, published in 2006, suggests a variety of action steps that camps have been taking since the mid-1800s. These include: teaching young people to make appropriate choices concerning health and wellness; offering activities that nurture creative thinking and socially skilled problem-solving; and providing opportunities for leadership.

Some would have us believe that fun learning is an oxymoron anywhere beyond preschool. If we stay fixed in that mindset, summer camp is doomed, along with our children’s mental health. Happiness is not a quaint byproduct of leisure; it’s the driving force behind success. We do our best — at work, at play, and in relationships — when we’re having fun. From that standpoint, summer camp becomes the perfect complement to traditional education. To Harvard University’s president, Charles W. Eliot, this was clear in 1922 when he declared, “The organized summer camp is the most important step in education that America has given the world.”

Parents should know that Eliot’s wise words pale in comparison to the words of enthusiasm that young people routinely use to describe their camp experience, such as:

“At camp, I make friends easily.”
“At camp, I get to try new things…stuff that might not be cool at school.”
“At camp, the pressures of school disappear and I can just relax and have fun.”
“At camp, I can be a leader by setting a good example for my friends.”
“At camp, I feel close to nature and to the planet.”
“At camp, I get to be myself.”

Parents might be surprised to know that it is this last response, “At camp, get to be myself,” that holds the most transformative power for youth. When boys and girls find their authentic voices in a safe, nurturing, and challenging environment, they experience a rush of self-confidence. This self-confidence then carries forward into other domains at home, school, and beyond. It fuels their willingness to explore and learn, which is a key predictor of later success.

A high quality camp experience does more than halt summer learning loss; it provides experiences that accelerate development in the very direction employers crave. To quote one of my former leaders-in-training from Camp Belknap, “What I learned at Princeton and in medical school never could have prepared me to be chief resident at Johns Hopkins. It was my experience at summer camp that earned me that spot. I’m confident it’s also what will make me a good parent.”

What more could moms and dads possibly need to hear to convince them of the necessity of enrolling their son or daughter in summer camp? Although many US schools need serious improvement, we have less of an educational deficit than many believe. We have summer camps, created a century and a half ago by professional educators to bolster classroom education. It is now a moral imperative that we fulfill our commitment to our children by embracing the complementary relationship between schools and camps.

A version of this article was originally published in the 2011 November/December issue of Camping Magazine. Reprinted by permission of the American Camp Association. ©2011 American Camping Association, Inc.

Dr. Christopher Thurber, a frequent contributor to camping publications and health blogs, works as a clinical psychologist at Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire. He is the co-author of The Summer Camp Handbook and the host of the homesickness prevention DVD entitled The Secret Ingredients of Summer Camp Success. Learn more on Chris’s website:

Hey! Greenwood Trails has an Arts Trail!

By Lisa Phillips

1. Creativity – Being able to think on your feet, approach tasks from different perspectives and think ‘outside of the box’ will distinguish your child from others. In an arts program, your child will be asked to recite a monologue in 6 different ways, create a painting that represents a memory, or compose a new rhythm to enhance a piece of music. If children have practice thinking creatively, it will come naturally to them now and in their future career.

2. Confidence – The skills developed through theater, not only train you how to convincingly deliver a message, but also build the confidence you need to take command of the stage. Theater training gives children practice stepping out of their comfort zone and allows them to make mistakes and learn from them in rehearsal. This process gives children the confidence to perform in front of large audiences.

3. Problem Solving – Artistic creations are born through the solving of problems. How do I turn this clay into a sculpture? How do I portray a particular emotion through dance? How will my character react in this situation? Without even realizing it kids that participate in the arts are consistently being challenged to solve problems. All this practice problem solving develops children’s skills in reasoning and understanding. This will help develop important problem-solving skills necessary for success in any career.

4. Perseverance – When a child picks up a violin for the first time, she/he knows that playing Bach right away is not an option; however, when that child practices, learns the skills and techniques and doesn’t give up, that Bach concerto is that much closer. In an increasingly competitive world, where people are being asked to continually develop new skills, perseverance is essential to achieving success.

5. Focus – The ability to focus is a key skill developed through ensemble work. Keeping a balance between listening and contributing involves a great deal of concentration and focus. It requires each participant to not only think about their role, but how their role contributes to the big picture of what is being created. Recent research has shown that participation in the arts improves children’s abilities to concentrate and focus in other aspects of their lives.

6. Non-Verbal Communication – Through experiences in theater and dance education, children learn to breakdown the mechanics of body language. They experience different ways of moving and how those movements communicate different emotions. They are then coached in performance skills to ensure they are portraying their character effectively to the audience.

7. Receiving Constructive Feedback – Receiving constructive feedback about a performance or visual art piece is a regular part of any arts instruction. Children learn that feedback is part of learning and it is not something to be offended by or to be taken personally. It is something helpful. The goal is the improvement of skills and evaluation is incorporated at every step of the process. Each arts discipline has built in parameters to ensure that critique is a valuable experience and greatly contributes to the success of the final piece.

8. Collaboration – Most arts disciplines are collaborative in nature. Through the arts, children practice working together, sharing responsibility, and compromising with others to accomplish a common goal. When a child has a part to play in a music ensemble, or a theater or dance production, they begin to understand that their contribution is necessary for the success of the group. Through these experiences children gain confidence and start to learn that their contributions have value even if they don’t have the biggest role.

9. Dedication – When kids get to practice following through with artistic endeavors that result in a finished product or performance, they learn to associate dedication with a feeling of accomplishment. They practice developing healthy work habits of being on time for rehearsals and performances, respecting the contributions of others, and putting effort into the success of the final piece. In the performing arts, the reward for dedication is the warm feeling of an audience’s applause that comes rushing over you, making all your efforts worthwhile.

10. Accountability – When children practice creating something collaboratively they get used to the idea that their actions affect other people. They learn that when they are not prepared or on-time, that other people suffer. Through the arts, children also learn that it is important to admit that you made a mistake and take responsibility for it. Because mistakes are a regular part of the process of learning in the arts, children begin to see that mistakes happen. We acknowledge them, learn from them and move on.