Healthy Eating and Physical Activity

Posted by on Jun 24, 2015

Hello from the CEO’s office! You may notice some changes at camp this summer so I wanted to take a moment to reflect on those changes. In an effort to role model a healthier lifestyle for our campers, YMCA Camp Ockanickon, Inc. has signed up to be a part of the Y of the USA’s Healthy Eating and Physical Activity (HEPA) initiative. The HEPA initiative provides a series of guidelines for how to help improve our participants’ overall health.   Healthy Eating Some of the changes that you may notice in our dining halls and trading posts include: ·         Foods lower in sugar and fat content ·         No sugary drinks ·         No saturated fats ·         No candy ·         No deep fried foods ·         Whole grains when grains are served In addition, our School’s Out program is also evaluating the snacks we provide to offer healthier alternatives to the traditional fare. Many of our favorites will still be available. The store will still have Chipwiches. Chefs Jason and Kimmie will still serve Pretzel Melts and Taco Tuesdays, and, of course, you can’t have summer camp without s’mores! We understand that change is hard but never has change been more necessary. Did you know: The average American eats 100 pounds of added sweeteners/year. Almost ¼ pounds per day! There is 420 calories in ¼ pound of sugar! An average adult would have to run almost 1 hour to burn off all those calories! The saturated and trans fats often used to prepare fried food significantly increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. The preschool years are crucial for obesity prevention since the development of fat tissue typically occurs from ages 3 to 7. Adults who engage in outdoor activities most likely began doing so between the ages of 5 and 18. Outdoor activities can be enjoyed in a variety of locations, are often less expensive than indoor activities, and can foster lifelong activity. Physical Activity There is no doubt that we do a great job engaging our campers in physical activity. We send our campers home tired, dirty, and hopefully (a little bit) sad to be leaving! Unfortunately as schools face continued budget cuts and increased constraints on their educational time, the amount of physical activity provided during the school day has diminished over the years. We see this as an opportunity for YMCA Camp Ockanickon, Inc. to make a difference. This summer we are evaluating how we provide physical fitness opportunities to the participants in our School’s Out program. Despite the limited options we have for activity space at some of our sites, we are committed to finding ways to get our participants moving! Other We will also be engaging our School’s Out’s families. We understand that parents, caregivers, and child care providers share the responsibility for children during important developmental years. We look forward to partnering with parents and caregivers...

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Return of the Staff

Posted by on Jun 17, 2015

What is it that makes a camp have the great influence that it does? It is not the facilities or the activities, while great those things may be at YMCA Camp Ockanickon, Inc. It is the staff that help make camp a life changing experience and every year, staff members come to our camps excited and ready for the summer! While many of the counselors are from New Jersey, we have staff from as far as Hawaii and even international staff. For some, this is their first camping experience but many staff members went to camp when they were younger. Each year there are always staff that return from the previous summer. This may be their second year returning and for others this may be their tenth! I went around and interviewed a few of our returning staff members and here is what they said: Q. Why did you come to camp? A. Initially I came as a camper so I could be outside more, but I returned as a counselor because it is one of my favorite places. Q. What is your favorite camp related memory? A. My favorite memory was actually just last summer. Three campers walked up to me and told me that I was their favorite counselor which is one of the best feelings a counselor can have. Another great memory is when I was with the Seneca tribe and because they had been such a great group, we were allowed to go over and use the boys’ overnight camp’s inflatables. Just seeing how excited everyone was and how much fun the campers and counselors had while on the inflatables out on the lake just made it such a great experience. Q. What are some of the lessons you have learned while working at camp? A. One lesson I have learned is that all people handle situations differently. You really need to know your campers because each one reacts differently to everything! Another lesson I have learned is just how to be selfless by putting the well-being of others in front of myself. Thirdly, kindness and trust will get you far with people. If you give people kindness and trust, they will often treat you the same way. Q. Would you recommend this place to another? A. Of course. Camp has molded me into the person I am today. With the way I treat people and the way I act, it all comes from camp. Q. What would you say to someone considering to work here? A. Some of the best summers I have ever had were at camp and I have met some of my best long term friends here. You should definitely work at camp this summer! Q. Why did you return to camp this summer? A. I was actually offered two jobs. I tried the other job for about a week, but I realized I would miss this place too much. For me it...

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Our International Staff

Posted by on Jun 10, 2015

For quite a few years, YMCA Camp Ockanickon, Inc. has been hiring international staff to work in all three of its summer camps. For some, it is their first time in America and even their first time at a camp while others are returning for another fun filled summer. Even Matolly’s camp director, Gab Ostroski, started out as an international staff member back in 2000 when she arrived from Australia! This summer, we will have a diverse international staff from a variety of countries and cultures including but not limited to Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, and the United Kingdom!  I went around and asked some of them these questions and here is a compilation of their answers: Q. What were your first thoughts upon arriving in America? A. Really tired after all of the traveling, but the people seem really polite!   Q. What is the biggest difference between countries you have noticed while being here? A. The food and the language is very different. With the language, it is just how things are said like how football is soccer and chips are actually french fries. It can be confusing at times.   Q. What was your first thought upon arriving at camp? A. It was really beautiful with the all the trees and the big lake. It also reminded me of the movie Parent Trap, but one of my thoughts was “what have I gotten myself into?”   Q. What are you excited for this summer? A. I’m excited to be working in a new role this summer and learning new skills. I’m really excited that I get to work with children and overall I am excited to experience American culture.   Q. What has camp done to help you with the transition? A. When I first arrived at lifeguard training I met Kris Parker. He said “just wait, in two weeks we’ll be best friends” and he was right! The people at camp really helped with the transition and they make it a great experience.   Q. What do you hope to get from camp by the end of the summer? A. I’m hoping to experience a cultural change, but I am looking to gain more confidence. Normally, I am only shy when I am with large groups, but I am hoping to be more social in that respect. For this last question, I had a few great responses so I put down multiple answers! Q. Why did you come to camp this summer? A. I wanted to do something different this summer. I wanted to have a fun experience where I could also see a different culture. A. Winter is cold and this is the greatest place on Earth!   Bringing in international staff provides a two way road for learning. While they get to experience American culture, the campers and other staff are able to...

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Camper Lessons

Posted by on Jun 3, 2015

Summer camp can be a place of learning and growth because there are many skills a child can learn during their time as a camper. One can learn how to swim, how to boat, and how to cook. You learn about nature, different games at land sports, and how to build a fire or a shelter. These activities can teach basic skills, but they can also teach deeper life skills that can stay with a camper the rest of their life! Here a camp, a camper can learn the deeper life skills of: Perseverance At archery, you are learning so much more than how to nock an arrow. After firing to hit the target and missing several times, a camper is asked to keep trying. Once they finally hit that target, they learn the important lesson of not giving up. This lesson is not limited to archery, but can be expanded to any activity at camp. At swimming, campers keep on trying to learn new swimming strokes so they may go up a swimming level. At nature when building a fire, if the wood does not catch the first few times, a camper keeps going until they are able to finally get that fire started. Perseverance is one of the most important lesson a camper can learn and it can carry over to almost every aspect in life. If you fail a test, you don’t give up on the class, you work harder to do better on the next test! Comfort Zone At one point or another, every camper is asked to step outside of their comfort zone. It could be in swimming, wherein a camper does not know how to swim. First we ask that they step into the water, and then gradually we teach a camper how to swim. While they have just learned how to swim, they have also just taken a step outside of their comfort zone and learned how to take that first step. Another example would be at the challenge course. A camper may be afraid of heights but step by step, we encourage a camper to climb that rock wall with an entire group cheering them on as they do. Everything at camp is challenge by choice, but camp can allow for a camper to gradually learn how to step outside of their comfort zone. Outside of camp, this skill can lead to a whole world of opportunities! Whether it is joining a club at school or becoming more social, learning to expand one’s comfort zone can be a valuable lesson! Teamwork There are many aspects of camp wherein teamwork is necessary. At land sports, you are not just learning how to play capture the flag. You are learning how to form a team with others to accomplish a goal. At the challenge course, you are not just passing another camper on a log...

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