Sunday, April 27, 2014

Interesting Article on the Summer Camp Can Aid in College Admissions

Summer camp may improve college admissions odds

6 Hours Ago

How you spend your summer vacation isn't just fodder for first-day-back-in-school essays. It could provide a boost on college or job applications—especially if you went to camp.
Colleges have been getting more selective in recent years. In 2012, the average four-year college accepted 63.9 percent of applicants, down from 69.6 percent in 2003, according to the National Association for College Admission Counseling. Many are even more selective. This year, Yale University accepted just 6.26 percent of applicants, down from 6.27 percent a year ago and 11 percent in 2005, according to educational consulting company IvyWise. Cornell University accepted 14 percent, versus 31 percent in 2005.
Grades and standardized test scores are still the top factor for admission, but educational counselors say colleges are starting to take a harder look at extracurricular activities, particularly those over summer vacation. "Parents assume their kids need to be even more competitive on grades," said Eric Greenberg, founder and director of education consulting firm Greenberg Educational Group. "What has happened, ironically, is the opposite."
To colleges, summertime is like the hiatus between jobs a prospective employer would ask about, said Mark Kantrowitz, senior vice president and publisher at Edvisors Network. "Colleges want to understand, what have you been doing with yourself?" he said. "What happened during that gap?" The answer can be telling of what a student will do on campus.
Standout camp experiences
Parents shouldn't immediately race for the nearest camp sign-up sheet. While there are surely college admissions officers with fond memories of lake swims and archery, the camp experience that is more likely to stand out is a specialized one that speaks to a student's interests, experts say. Summers at soccer camp can help show a would-be college athlete's dedication, for example, while theater camp can be an edge for someone applying to the acting program—especially if the high school's drama program is so-so (or nonexistent).
Focused camps aren't that difficult to find. Half of day camps have some kind of academic activities or areas of study, and one-third offer a STEM (i.e., science, technology, engineering or math) program, according to the American Camp Association.
"By being stronger on the extracurricular activities, you can actually make up somewhat for weaknesses academically," Kantrowitz said. It's no slam dunk, though. "Not everyone is going to yield a benefit, but it's something that distinguishes you," he said. (Considering, however, that some camps can cost upwards of $1,000 per week, it's worth pointing out that extra experience in a student's areas of interest could just as easily come from a summer course at a local college, volunteer experiences or work, he said.)
Steven Infanti, associate vice president for admissions at Harrisburg University of Science and Technology, said a STEM camp experience is something that makes him take a closer look at a student's application. "When I look at an applicant who has a 2.5 [GPA], which would be kind of a borderline admit for us, but I see on his application, I participate in this camp…that shows a lot of initiative and someone who has a passion," he said.
For higher-achievers, relevant camp experience may put them in the running for the university's fellowship program, which pairs 15 incoming freshmen with faculty for research projects, among other advantages.
Colleges may also find longer camp relationships interesting, even if the camp isn't academically focused. "The regular camper who becomes a counselor is a good type of continuity," Greenberg said. That kind of camp experience can indicate positive qualities such as leadership, resilience and good social skills, he said.
That's the kind of story Oberlin College freshman Talia Rodwin expressed in her application essay. Rodwin, 19, has been attending Habon Dror Camp Moshava in Silver Spring, Md., since 2006 and plans to return this summer for her second year as a counselor. (The youth movement camp emphasizes sharing, leadership and communal responsibility.) "I wrote about my camp experiences and community," she said. "I explained how I think of myself as a community builder…and I think that had an impact."
Broader camp-to-college benefits
While camp as an application booster isn't a guarantee, it could have other benefits for a college-bound student. Overnight camps can offer a taste of independent living (or at least, living away from mom and dad). The right camp could even help solidify a career path, reducing the chance of a five- or six-year stint at a four-year college while an undeclared student explores options.
"If you go to summer camp and you decide because of the camp that this is what you want to be, you're going to be much more focused as a student," Kantrowitz said.
When he was in middle school, Simon Solis-Cohen, now 23, signed up for a magic camp through Julian Krinsky Camps & Programs in Pennsylvania. He liked it so much that the next year, he tried one of the group's business camps. Then, in the summer leading up to his freshman year of high school, he discovered cooking camp. "It really opened my eyes," Solis-Cohen said.
He was so enamored with cooking that he started working weekends during the school year at the camp chef-instructor's restaurant, then attended college at the Culinary Institute of the America. "I ended up using this as my launching pad," said Solis-Cohen, who is currently with Grgich Hills Estate in Rutherford, Calif., after a stint at renowned Napa Valley restaurant The French Laundry.
As Solis-Cohen discovered, camp can even be a kick-starter for jobs down the line—provided the experience backs up other bona-fides. "Camp is about the social experience of working with other young people in a group setting that's outside your comfort zone," said Chad Oakley, president and chief operating officer of executive search firm Charles Aris, Inc. "That in itself is 50 percent of success in a business environment."
But it's no job shoe-in. "You might get the interview because you went to math camp, but you'd actually get the job because of your ability to interface with people during the interview," said Oakley.
Conveying camp experiences
Showcasing a camp experience during the college admissions process can be done in a handful of ways. It might be listed as extra-curricular activities on the college application, or a particularly meaningful experiences worked into the essay portion.
"If you had a transformative experience at the summer camp or a big impact on others, that tells them more about who you are as an individual, especially if you can write about how it set you in a particular direction," Kantrowitz said. "If something is of interest to you, you're more likely to write a passionate essay."
Favorite counselors or camp directors should also be considered for letters of recommendation. "Relatively few students submit letters from outside [school] or that are job-related," said Greenberg. "That can be enormously valuable."

Saturday, April 26, 2014

How Kids Benefit from Attending Summer Camp

Here is the Jefunira Camp Mission Statement:

Jefunira Camp is committed to providing a premier camp experience by creating a safe and inclusive community where campers can develop self-esteem, self- confidence and have fun through non-competitive, non-skill based play. 

I believe that summer camp and play in general provide a great foundation for the healthy development of children.  Summer camp is a place where children can develop self confidence and more importantly self esteem.  We make that a central part of our mission statement.  

Below is an article that appears in the January 2014 edition of MetroKids.  It speaks nicely to the benefits of attending summer camp.  

The Benefits of Summer Camp

The summer camp experience builds confidence and other values that last a lifetime.

Log on to any camp website and you’ll be greeted with countless images of sunny, smiling faces, tangible proof that kids enjoy being at summer camp in any given moment. What you can’t see, however, may be even more important — the intangible benefits of the summer camp experience that youth development experts say can positively impact a child for life.
“Camps prepare kids for success in all walks of life by giving them the opportunity to develop skills and social relationships and work as part of a team, both as a leader and a follower,” says Dave DeLuca, executive director of YMCA Camp Mason, which has operated day and overnight camps in Hardwick, NJ since 1900. 
The ongoing value of camp In 2004 the American Camp Association (ACA) published the first-ever national research project on camp benefits, validating long-held beliefs about the positive outcome of the camp experience. Results from 5,000 families and staffers of 80 camps over a four-year period showed that even two weeks at camp led to gains in kids’ positive identity and values, spirituality and social, physical and thinking skills. Seventy-two percent of parents reported, “My child gained self-confidence.” Ninety-two percent of campers said, “Camp made me feel good about myself.”
At Camp Orchard Hill in Dallas, PA, executive director Jim Payne says the Christian day and overnight program seeks to create a quartet of positive outcomes via opportunities to “stimulate [campers’] development; appreciate their natural surroundings and take an active role in environmental stewardship; set goals and challenge their own abilities; and experience living in a community.”
Dragonfly Forest, a traditional camp for children with autism and medical needs in Valley Forge, PA, has measured the growth of 2,500 one-week residential campers in eight areas: exploration, health, responsibility, independence, success, teamwork, confidence and friendship. “We believe that camp is the ‘genie’ that lets these benefits out of the bottle for campers, and once out, these benefits continue throughout their lifetime,” says Dragonfly Forest president Fred Weiner. Confirming his hunch, 63 percent of Dragonfly Forest parents have reported seeing a “permanent” (at least six months) change in their children’s behavior after a camp experience.

The secret of camp success

“Camp differs from school in that positive outcomes are experiential and not in a classroom setting,” Payne says. “Life is about overcoming obstacles, and camp provides challenges that exist in a safe environment, where kids can learn to succeed and fail and try again, for example, on the climbing wall or challenge course.
“You can’t fail summer camp,” he continues. “In school there is inherent failure, but camp mitigates that. If you strike out in baseball, you can succeed in swimming or arts and crafts.”

Camper confidence

That type of accomplishment ultimately boosts kids’ sense of independence. “Parents value the self-confidence that comes when their children try new things and succeed,” says Payne. “And besides making new friends — which most campers say is the best benefit of camp — children grow with the independence they have to make choices about their activities, their meals, their friends.”
“Because of camp, my daughter walks a little taller, speaks a little clearer, laughs a little louder and shows a little more confidence,” says Pottstown, PA mom Laura Moravinski of her 11-year-old Dragonfly Forest camper, Hannah. “She wants to do instead of having things done for her. She wants to try instead of fearing the opportunity. She rises to challenges instead of retreating into her own space.”
“At camp,” concludes Weiner, “everything is designed around having fun — and the campers don’t realize the power of the experience.”

Friday, April 25, 2014

We're Back!

Well, it has been about five year since we last posted to our blog.  But with our 23rd summer fast approaching, we have decided to finally take advantage of our blog and to start posting fun and useful material.

On Friday June 13, Parent Place will be presenting "How to Make and Keep Friends", a talk for parents of children with all ages.  The talk is will start at 9:15A and is open to all.  So after you drop off your camper, stick around and join us for what I am sure will be an interesting talk.


Thursday, February 19, 2009

Why enrollment opens Feb 1

One of the questions I hear most often at this time of year is "Why do you open enrollment on Feb 1?".  Some people want us to begin enrollment earlier so that our enrollment begins when some other camps begin theirs.  Other people want us to start enrollment later so that they don't have to plan their summer in January.  I have resisted opening enrollment earlier because I think it puts too much pressure on parents to make summer plans in December.  And I can't wait much past Feb 1 to open enrollment because we need to make plans based on enrollment and we need time to do that.  I would love to hear back from parents about their thoughts on when we should open enrollment.  


Thursday, January 29, 2009

Monday, January 26, 2009

Jefunira: Behind the Scenes

Directors Ben and Jamie: What REALLY happens in the office after campers leave...

Importance of play

As you might imagine, given that I have chose to run camps as my career, I believe in the value of play.  I think the discussion should probably be framed as "need for play" instead of "value of play".  I see each summer how much kids enjoy coming to Jefunira Camp and playing.  I can see how a child's self confidence and self esteem can grow in a really short amount of time when placed in a supportive environment where he or she can just play.  

I recently came across this quote,  "Play is to the child what thinking, planning, and blueprinting are to the adult, a trial universe in which conditions are simplified and methods exploratory, so that past failures can be thought through, expectations tested."  Eric Erikson, 1902 - 1994

I see everyday how important play is to children, but I often wonder what others think.  I am always asked by parents what kids get from Jefunira Camp.  I would love to know what you think you children have taken away from their time at Jefunira Camp.