Councelors

Four Reasons for Two Weeks of Camp

Written by Audrey Monke, Gold Arrow Camp

“Do you have a one week session?” is one of the questions we often get asked by parents who are new to our program.  The question is usually preceded or followed by the comment,  “Two weeks is too long for my child.”

I thought it would be helpful to outline for new parents why Gold Arrow Camp has a two-week session length as our primary camp offering.   Although we also offer one-week specialty camp options at the beginning and end of the summer, Gold Arrow Camp’s core program is a two-week session, and that is the length of time the majority of our campers attend camp.   We also have campers who are “Monthers,” who attend four weeks of camp by combining two two-week sessions.

There are many benefits to camp, regardless of length of stay, as per the American Camp Association study.  So, I urge you to find a camp that fits your family’s needs and schedule, even if Gold Arrow is not the best fit for you.

Our program, up until the 1970s, was a month-long program.  Many traditional, East Coast camps still offer only one seven or eight-week session.   To people in the West, this sounds crazy, as most programs on our side of the country are one-week in length.   However, families who have been part of Gold Arrow and other traditional camp programs understand the benefits of a longer camp stay.

Many traditional camps in California have started offering one-week programs, because that’s what many parents think they want for their child.  Fortunately, our camp families have kept our two-week sessions consistently full, so we will continue to offer what we consider the best length for our program.

Why does Gold Arrow Camp have two-week sessions?

Here are four reasons:

1.  Community and Friendship Building

2.  Breadth and Depth of Activities

3.  Social Skill Development

4.  Independence and Confidence Building

Community and Friendship Building

Eli had the greatest summer camp experience.  He knew no one going to camp and come home with a host of new friends.  He had a huge smile on his face when we greeted him and it lasted for a long time.  He was pushed to achieve and he was proud of himself for achieving his goals. -Mr. & Mrs. Whitney Liebow

My children lead busy lives during the school year with various teams and enrichment programs.  Going to Gold Arrow Camp allows them to unwind and gain a new perspective on friendship, goals and life.  From my perspective, GAC is summer the way it is supposed to be for kids.  Thank you!! -Mrs. Kimberly Haulk

While a lot of fun happens during even just one day of camp, spending more time connecting and building bonds with counselors, cabin mates, and other campers is one of the benefits of a two-week stay.

The first week of the session, there is an adjustment period for the first few days, when campers are getting settled and getting to know one another, the schedule, and the activities.  By the middle of the first week, campers feel settled and comfortable at camp, and relationships have the opportunity to start getting deeper.  Friendships, while they can definitely be formed in one week, have a better chance to grow stronger and deeper with more connection time.

Because all of the campers in the cabin group are at camp for the same length of time (two weeks), there are no departures and arrivals in the middle of the session to disrupt the group’s cohesiveness and the bonds that have developed.  Everyone arrives together and departs together, with the exception of our Monther campers, who stay on for another session after their first two-weeks end.

Breadth and Depth of Activities

Gold Arrow Camp is a great summer camp experience. Our son has gone to GAC for 4 years now and every year he sees old friends, makes new ones, tries new things, compares his skills at the activities from the current year to past summers, can be independent and responsible for himself and his belongings, and gets to enjoy the beautiful camp setting away from the heat in Phoenix. He is already looking forward to next summer when he will receive his 5-year blanket. -Mr. & Mrs. Michael Nord

We take advantage of our location on Huntington Lake, in the heart of the Sierra National Forest, by teaching campers a large variety of water and land-based recreational activities.  Many of our activities require extensive time and instruction. Sailing, as an example, is an activity that begins with a 2 ½ hour group lesson, and can be followed up by many additional lessons as campers opt for more sailing during Free Time.  Without adequate time, it would be impossible for campers to even get to all of the activities we offer, let alone build skills in them.   We want our campers to get exposure to all of what is offered at camp, and have the opportunity to pursue activities they are passionate about.

During their two weeks at Gold Arrow, campers have the opportunity to learn to sail, ride a horse, shoot a rifle, get up on water skiis, and participate in a myriad of other activities.   Many of these sports require time and practice to master.  For first-time campers, two weeks is just enough time to expose them to all of the different activities and start practicing and improving skills.  Returning campers continue to build upon and develop new skills, even after five or six years at our program.  The depth of instruction offered, the opportunity to improve recreational skills, and the ability to earn different patches and certifications all distinguish Gold Arrow Camp’s program.

We have two outpost programs, away from our main camp, that take up a portion of the two-week session.  We have a water sports outpost camp on an island on Shaver Lake where campers enjoy one or two nights camping on the beach.  At Shaver Island, campers spend their days on the lake improving their skills in waterskiing, wakeboarding, and kneeboarding.  While these sports are also done at our main camp on Huntington Lake, their stay at Shaver allows our two-week campers time to really improve their skills with a lot of “behind the boat” time.  Our other outpost program is backpacking.  All campers go on a one-night overnight backpacking trip and get to experience outdoor cooking, sleeping under the stars, and living in nature.

There are some activities that we wait to do until the second week of camp, when campers are feeling connected and more comfortable taking risks.  At the end of the second week of camp, we have our dance, and several all-day, sign up trips.  Campers can opt to spend the day sailing across Huntington Lake, going on a long horse trail ride, climbing challenging terrain on a rock climbing trip, and more.

Honestly, even two weeks seems short to us.  We barely get campers to all of our activities, and it’s time for them to go home!

Social Skills Development

Gold Arrow Camp added a new dimension to our daughter’s summer.  She was able participate in sports and activities she had not done before; further develop her social skills by meeting new people and being involved with her cabin mates a large part of each day; and enjoy free time in a beautiful setting free of electronics. -Mr. & Mrs. Richard Heard

Kids benefit from experiences living and working in groups regardless of the length of time.  However, I believe that allowing a group to really bond and connect also allows kids to grow their communication, teamwork, and conflict resolution skills more than when they are in a shorter-term program.

Independence and Confidence Building

“Both girls came home SO happy!  Melissa came home today, Jesse last week.  Melissa had gone to camp knowing no one, and upon her return, she had to finish BIG hugs good-bye with friends before she’d get in the car to go home.  On our drive home, she went a mile a minute with stories about her 2 weeks at GAC, and when she got home, she burst into tears, saying she missed camp, her friends, and that she wished she could live at camp all year round!  At that point we told her she could go back next year for 4 weeks, and she became overjoyed with excitement, and wanted us to sign her up for 2012 right then and there.  Jessica ‘Jess’, also had an amazing experience.  She came home last Saturday, after 1 week, as she was a Nugget.  She, too wants to go back next year, this time for ‘either 2… maybe 4 weeks.’  Considering she’s only 7, we are amazed.  Both girls look like they grew 2 inches each while away, but it’s really an extra gained confidence where they’re walking taller and prouder with themselves.  We are SO thrilled that we found Gold Arrow Camp, a camp their second cousin went to almost 20 years ago.  As the famous vanilla tree has been rooted at GAC for years and years, we look forward to our girls being rooted there for years and years to come, too.  Thanks for such a positive, growing, and out of this world experience!” -Melissa Wald

As a multi-generational Gold Arrow Family, nothing beats your child immersed high-up in the Sierra Nevada for total fun and adventure. Every day brings a sublime surprise. They return with confident Sierra Nevada Mountain swagger that is part-and-parcel with a positive can-do attitude.  -Mr. Michael Bonderer

GAC gave our daughter the freedom to make choices, and the support to make good ones.

Our daughter went from not being able to sleep overnight at friends houses to spending three weeks at GAC.  GAC provided our daughter with the confidence of knowing that she can accomplish anything that she sets her mind to complete. -Mr. & Mrs. Ken Reichman

For many kids, their stay at camp is the first time that they have ever been away from their parents at all.   Some have attended sleep-overs, weekend scout camps, or week-long school programs, but for many campers, their first stay at Gold Arrow is the longest they’ve been away from their parents.  We know this, and our counselors are trained to help first-time campers get adjusted to being away and learn to cope with feelings of missing their parents.

Campers feel a great sense of pride in themselves after “being on their own,” and having fun, without mom or dad nearby.   While two weeks seem slow to parents, especially during their first camp experience, the days fly by at Camp.

“Two weeks was not enough for our son….now he’s a MONTHER!” -Mr. & Mrs. Chris Pedersen

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Categories: Being Positive, Benefits of Camp, Campfire, Communication, Community, Councelors, Friendship, Fun, GAC, Optimism, Raising Happiness, Self-Esteem, Social Skills, Team Building, Tradition, Whadda Whadda Whadda | 3 Comments

Great Parents

It was my first time at a sleep away camp, and I’m sure it will change my life forever.
-Zakai, 2012 Camper

 “You’re sending Sophia to camp for TWO WEEKS?”

Shock is a common response camp parents get when discussing summer camp plans with other parents. Some people even infer that we are “bad parents” to allow our children out from under our direct supervision.  In this “helicopter” parenting age, the thought of allowing an eight year old to go away to camp for two weeks is incomprehensible to people who don’t understand the value of camp.  What these “non-camp” parents don’t know is that allowing your child a camp experience is a gift that has positive, life-long benefits beyond learning how to sail or rock climb. Camp parents aren’t bad parents who “send their children away.” Instead, we are great parents who let our children spread their wings!

While disconnecting from technology, campers learn to relate better to other people, face to face, without headphones on or a cell phone in hand. Campers experience a break from the pressures of academics, competitive sports, and overscheduled lives. One camper said about her time at camp, “I don’t go through the pressures that are in the ‘real world’.”

Gaining a love and respect for nature, experiencing fun, bonding time with others, and improved independence and responsibility skills are just a few of the many benefits of a camp experience. Further, camp experiences at younger ages may help children adjust to later experiences, such as going away to college.

Here are some of our 2012 campers’ responses to the question, “What did you learn at camp?”

I learned…


…that being really, really scared is all right as long as you try.
  Mira

…to thank people who help you out.  Isaac

…to be more social, and I tested my strength a lot and tried more things.  Aubree

…to be thankful for the great opportunities of trying new thins and exploring new places.  In addition, I learned to be thankful for my parents for giving me these opportunities.  Jake

…to be a better person at camp and learned to do so many new things.  Emma

…about trust, gratitude, friendship, boats, capsizing, and horses.  Mia

…to be more clean and organized.  Javier

…to be more outgoing.  Contessa

…to be more independent.  Patrick

…how to make friends with anyone.  Brooklyn

…how to ride a bike, make friends easily, and to be myself.  Megan

…to not use electronics, to make new friends, and to have fun.  Irene

…I got better at sharing.  Adlai

…to accept others for who they are.  Cassandra

…that even if something is hard, keep tryingMason

…to try everythingChase

…manners.  Cole

…how to let go of my insecuritiesPaige

…the skill of perseverance.  Like on the Big Swing – I was nervous but I persevered and pulled the string.  Elizabeth

…that if you are very high, don’t look down.  Keaton

…how to take on my fearsMax

…to always accept people and let other people share their opinions and ideas.  Charlotte

…there is always something to be grateful for. Patrick

Categories: Being Positive, Benefits of Camp, Campfire, Community, Councelors, Day Hikes, Fishing, Friendship, Fun, GAC, Kids, Kindness, Last Child in the Woods, Parents, Raising Happiness, Self-Esteem, Social Skills, Team Building, Tradition, Whadda Whadda Whadda | 1 Comment

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