I will be leaving for a vacation in just a couple of days, and one of things that I am most looking forward to is seeing my entire family unplug. We will be staying in a remote location where there is no cell reception, no internet, no Xbox, and no TV. As a rule we put down our many mobile devices for more than a week, and it is absolutely glorious. At first it’s a little awkward, and I have to fight my impulse to grab my beloved iphone and use one of its apps, but fairly quickly my brain recalls the decades of my life when I didn’t always have a device at my side. My kids are suddenly required to fill their free time with something other than Temple Run and Minecraft, and my wife and I refrain from checking our work emails, or posting on Facebook or Instagram. To put it mildly, it’s heaven. Over the 8 days of vacation we reconnect with each other on a much deeper level than we do at any other point of the year.
Thanks to our friend and colleague, Lance Witt Ozier, for his thoughtful and scholarly article about the ways in which the Camp experience can help children learn and strengthen the skills they will need to succeed and to contribute to the world. At Camps Kenwood and Evergreen in NH and Everwood Day Camp, our mission is to fill in the missing pieces in the education and development of the whole child, and to do our part to help our campers to become caring, successful and fulfilled adults.
It is finally starting to feel like spring in New England! Everywhere we look there are indicators of the approach of summer: the warm sun is shining, most of this winter’s snow has melted, and the robin’s have returned to our green but muddy fields. Most importantly, the camp office phone is ringing non-stop with parents inquiring about visiting our overnight camp in NH this summer.
Starting July 1st Camps Kenwood and Evergreen for boys and girls will be offering families private tours 7-weeks a week. Tours start at 10am, 2pm and 4pm. These visits are a great way for future campers to learn more about the Kenwood and Evergreen community. Families will have a chance to meet our campers and counselors, experience some of our activities, see our fabulous facilities, and ask members of our community as many questions as possible.
Recently, I was asked to be a speaker at an event hosted by the New England Chapter of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. The goal of this gathering was to help the parents of children with food allergies figure out if summer camp was even a possibility for their children. As a director of an overnight camp in NH that has welcomed children with severe food allergies for more than a decade I was pleased and proud to be a part of this.
As I fielded questions from the audience it became clear that there were two main worries on the minds of the many parents in the room:
1) How do I go about determining if a particular summer camp is safe for my child with food allergies?
2) And on a more fundamental level, are there camps in New England that truly want campers with life-threatening food allergies?”
As we went around the room I discovered that almost every parent had been told by at least one camp that their child’s food safety needs could not and would not be met for this coming summer. It saddens me that there are still many overnight camps that shy away from making the reasonable accommodations necessary to make their community safe for people with allergies and intolerances. When Kenwood and Evergreen set out on this course many years ago we knew it would involve some changes to our food systems and a whole lot of ongoing education, but we also knew that doing so would make our community available to some pretty fantastic kids (and staff). I know that we are not alone in believing that this is the right thing to do. My co-speaker at this event, Will Rubenstein, is the director of a wonderful camp on Camp Cod called Wingate-Kirkland. Though different in session length and programming structure, Wingate-Kirkland also believes that it is important to create a safe environment for kids with food allergies. I know that there are other camps out there like us, and I applaud them all!