Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Chariots of Chlorine

Congratulations to former Jefunira campers Tara and Tera Levens! These two Jefunira alums took third place in the CCS swimming finals last weekend, breaking a 27 year old school record in the 200 medley relay event. Way to go! Congrats also to all the other Jefunira alums who participated! Remember- If you had fun, you won...

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Businesses with Values

Jeff and I were fortunate enough to attend a class and discussion at the Stanford Business school this morning. The class was engaged in a case study of Wild Planet Toys, a SF based toy company founded by Danny Grossman. During the class, one of the recurring ideas raised revolved around Wild Planet's core values of respecting kids and adults, and producing toys and games that promote non-violent play and encourage exploration. Many of the students in the class were curious/impressed with how Wild Planet has retained its core values through significant growth and how it has remained true to its vision in all of the toys it has produced.

Like Wild Planet, Jefunira Camp was founded on a very clear set of values, and continues to promote non-competitive, inclusive activities that encourage social and emotional growth in children. As we begin to grow and expand, we're looking to companies such as Wild Planet for guidance on how to expand a business without compromising the values it was founded on. As always, we welcome thoughts from the community on how to do this!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Counselor Serenade 2006

As the summer grows closer, we thought we'd share a song written by last years counselors for our campers!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Summer Camps: A fun way to get fit!

Among the many enriching experiences and opportunities that outdoor summer camps offer, perhaps one of the most valuable today is the chance for children to be physically active. With more and more studies being released that document that rapid growth of obesity and other weight related diseases in children, some scientists are predicting that close to half of the children in North and South America could be overweight by 2010. With all of the forms of media entertainment available to todays children and the glut of advertisements being put out by fast food companies, lack of physical exercise combined with unhealthy eating habits is becoming a serious issue.

At Jefunira Camp, we develop programming that is welcoming and fun to all children, regardless of their skill level or athletic experience. By creating non-traditional games that create excitement for our campers and offer multiple ways to engage within the activities, our programming is designed to be accessible to all kids. Our advice for parents struggling to get their kids outdoors is to create activities that generate excitement and teach athletic skills in fun, innovative ways. For example, when working on throwing and catching skills, rather than simply tossing a ball back and forth endlessly, create a game such as the "Catching Olympics" in which kids get points every time they make a catch, or create a 'landing zone' out of cones and challenge your child to try to throw objects into the zone, awarding points for every successful throw. Keep track of the running 'Grand Champion Score' and challenge them in successive rounds to beat the score!

For more information on this topic and some ideas on how to help your children stay healthy, we reccomend the American Obesity Association website.

Friday, May 11, 2007

It Takes a Village..

As a small business, Jefunira Camp has relied on a lot of support from our community and local businesses over the years. Although we don't currently offer the buying power or budget of a larger company, we've been able to continue to grow and flourish in no small part thanks to the hard work and diligence of our supporting businesses. For today's post, we wanted take the time to give a thank you to all of the people and busineses that have supported us over the years, and continue to support us! Thanks to you, we continue to be able to offer a premier summer camp experience to our communities and campers. Although there are too many to name each individual, we did want to give an extra big thank you to those listed below:

Jennifer Allen and Mike Maystead of Pip Printing

David Wright of InterWest Insurance

Heidi Faith of Phoenix Designs

Maureen Velasquez and Barbara Welsh, principals of St. Cyprian and Nixon Elementary schools

Ilene Sotnick and her amazing T-shirt design company, Meridian ID!

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

5 Ways to Beat the Heat!

With temperatures skyrocketing in the area, the Jefunira Camp directors sat down and compiled a list of activities for parents to entertain their kids on hot afternoons...We'd also love to hear your ideas!

#1. Make your own Water Park in the back/front yard. Let your kids imaginations run wild by giving them some sprinklers, buckets, squirt bottles and a hose and ask them to set up a water amusement park ride, relay race or game!

#2. Play Squirt Bottle Tag! This one's a lot of fun and easy to set-up. Just fill a few squirt bottles with water, give the kids a boundary, and tell them that anyone inside the boundaries can be squirted! If any participants don't feel like getting wet, or want to take a break, they can step outside the boundary into the 'safe zone'. For a twist, put a couple objects (bean bags, toys, water balloons) in the middle of a circle and break the kids into teams. One team trys to run in and grab the objects, while the defenders in the middle are armed with squirt bottles. If you are squirted while trying to grab an object, you have been 'tagged' and must exit the circle!

#3. Visit the Baylands or Shoreline. Both of these parks are on the water and offer a cooler environment than anywhere in town. Baylands offers some great nature walks and is located next to Twisters Gym, if your kids are in the mood for some rock climbing! Shoreline Park offers paddleboats, sailing, and some great walks as well!

#4. The always popular option...go to the movies! While the summer blockbusters (Shrek 3, Pirates 3) are still a few weeks away from opening, theaters in the area are currently playing Disneys "Meet the Robinsons" (in 3-D no less!) for the younger crowd, while Spider Man 3 just opened last week for the 5th grade and up audience. Check out the Jefunira Review of Spider Man below, and keep your eyes peeled for more Jefunira "Kid-Friendly" reviews coming soon!

#5. When in doubt on a hot day...go to Ricks Rather Rich Ice Cream on Middlefield and Charleston or the Creamery downtown! Ricks (now run by Gary Schoen) uses a higher percentage of butterfat than many other places, resulting in smooth, creamy flavors! We recommend the Computer Chip and Chocolate Ginger. And for those interested in the Jefunira Directors Ice Cream Picks..

Jeff says, "Baskin Robbins 2 scoop hot fudge sundae w/ vanilla ice cream, extra nuts and no cherry."

Ben says, "Palo Alto Creamery Oreo cookie mint milkshake with extra fudge mixed in"

Monday, May 7, 2007

Stanford event on Academic Stress

In light of our recent post on the benefits of play for children, we thought the following event might be of interest to our readers!

On May 11 at 7:30, the Stanford school of Education will be hosting a free plenary session open to the public featuring two nationally acclaimed speakers, Dr. Madeline Levine and Dr. Wendy Mogel. The topic of discussion is SOS, or Stressed out Students, and the session is a part of a research and intervention project working towards creating healthier students and educational environments. The event website lists the following reasons for hosting this event,

With a rise in recent years in the number of students seeking mental health services, an increase in cheating behavior in school, and students' consistent worry about academic achievement, we feel it is time to bring the community together to address and counter problems associated with academic stress
.We encourage parents, educators and members of the community to check out this event, and continue to strive to create a healthy, fun and low-stress childhood for our children! You can find the details at the SOS website.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Spider Man 3: Campy but fun!

As professional camp directors, we consider it our duty to stay on top of the latest news, studies, and media that relate to our fields of interest. Thus, in the interest of research, Jefunira took a field trip to the movies today to see the new Spider Man movie!

After reading some pretty negative reviews describing the film as overly long, muddled and lacking in a single grounded storyline, our expectations were somewhat lowered. But 2 hours and 20 minutes later (definitely about 20 minutes too long) we left the theater entertained and happy! Yes, the characters strayed from the core personalities that have been established for them over the last two movies; Yes, the multiple villains and their corresponding plotlines were lacking in both menace and cohesiveness, but the movie harkened to the campy, irreverent comic books of old. With larger than life explosions and fight scenes, and overly melodramatic dialogue that was dripping with corny but wise-sounding pieces of advice ("We choose who we are" and "The hardest thing to do is forgive yourself"), Spider Man 3 was a fun kick-off to the coming onslaught of Summer blockbusters. We give it 3.5 Otter Pops out of 5.

This movie is appropriate for: Purple Groupers

To find a showing of Spider Man 3 near you, click here!

Thursday, May 3, 2007

A Shift in Global Educational values

The NY Times Magazine recently published a fairly extensive piece examining China's education system, and the growing movement towards developing a more creative, flexible and individualistic workforce in this era of global markets. Towards this end, many of the private elementary and middle schools are attempting to develop curriculum that steers away from the traditional rote memorization exercises and introduces classroom projects and activities that may develop creativity and foster social emotional growth.

This trend is one that we've observed locally as well, as parents recognize the value of social development, opportunities for creativity, and chances for their children to engage in play based settings that aren't high stress/high pressure. These skills are all core to the programming philosophy at Jefunira, and were at the forefront during our recent re-examination of the camp's mission statement. Our final result,

"Jefunira Camp is committed to providing a premier summer camp experience by creating a safe and inclusive community where campers can develop self-esteem, self- confidence and have fun through inclusive, play based activity".
reflects our commitment to fostering the social skills and play based learning that is becoming harder and harder to find! If we can pass on some of the same kind of summer memories that we look back on so fondly from our youth, our mission will be well served.

We're also curious as to others thoughts on the matter- are the academic pressures placed on children around the globe in todays high-pressure society negatively impacting their development? Or are summer tutors and enrichment math classes necessary to achieve success? Is there a better way to balance out these dual needs?
These questions have been on our minds frequently, and we look forward to continuing to engage the community in dialogues that better help us create fun, enriching and memorable experiences for all children!