Halloween Costume Contest WINNERS

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Happy Halloween! Congratulations to Josh who has won our Halloween Drawing Competition in the Silver Lake Upper Camp category with hisChippie the Bear from Space Jam” and Nikki who has won in the Lower Camp category. Nikki hit a home run with her costume design “Chippie the Bear wins World Series. We will be presenting Josh  and Nikki with the Limited Edition clipboards and stationary sets at the beginning of camp. Thank you to everyone who took part in the competition, your costume designs were awesome! 

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Halloween Costume Contest: Design Chippie’s Costume


Chippie the Bear needs your help! He just can’t decide what costume to wear this year for Halloween. Enter our Halloween Drawing Competition and you will be entered into our prize draw to win a LIMITED EDITION clipboard and stationery set.

Download a Chippie the Bear template and instructions and design, draw, and color in the costume that you would like him to wear for Halloween this year! Is he going to be a Super Hero, Witch, Haunted Ghost, Pirate or your favorite TV Character!?


Everyone who emails a picture and uploads to Instagram using #CostumeForChippie will be entered into the prize draw. A Winner for Lower Camp (1st-6th grade) and Upper Camp (7th-11th grade) will be announced on Halloween.

Email your picture to [email protected] and follow us on Instagram – @silverlakecamp2004

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Phone-Sick At Camp: The Benefits of Screen Free Time

Attending summer camp for many children is a major step toward independence while still having fun and making life long friends. Spending time in a phone-free camp encourages kids to make decisions on their own without parent advice. However, breaking away from phones and the constant contact is just as hard for parents as is it for children. A recent NY Times article, Phone-Sick At Camp, discusses the need for a phone-free summer at camp plus provides advice for parents on how to prepare for the summer.

At Camps Chipinaw and Silver Lake we believe a screen-free summer helps our campers develop soft skills they don’t get to develop at school. They practice independence, teamwork, communication and problem solving face-to-face rather than through a phone.

You can read a portion of the NY Times article below.

Kids are on their phones in school, in restaurants, on vacations and even in bed. For many, sleepaway camp remains one of the last oases, largely untouched by technology. “Camp is a sacred space to unplug and be able to learn independence and social skills,” Dr. Uhls said. “It’s really important to put devices down and practice the art of face-to-face communication.”

Putting down the phone can be hard for the parents too, who are often anxious about separating from their children and are used to constant check-ins, whether they are in the next state or the next room.

With this constant communication, children seek their parents’ guidance and emotional support even when they are not together, leaving fewer opportunities to develop their own confidence and internal compass for decision-making. Wendy Mogel, a clinical psychologist and the author of the parenting book “The Blessing of a Skinned Knee,” tells the story of a college student at a salad bar who texted her mother to ask if she liked ranch dressing, rather than testing it herself. Such dependent relationships can rob children of the chance to trust and believe in someone else besides their parents. Creating bonds with others is one of the most important benefits of camp, and it is more likely to happen without the electronic connection to home.

To prepare to detach for camp, Dr. Thurber recommends families try one tech-free day per week over the month before camp, with no recreational screen time. “It’s good to practice some withholding from real-time digital communication and learn to not reflexively reach for cellphones,” he said.

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100 Days Till Camp Competition: #HomeInAHundred

On Friday March 18th, the countdown to camp officially reached 100 days. To celebrate, we launched a photo competition that saw many of our campers send us pictures of themselves wearing their favorite camp gear to school. Everyone who submitted a picture was entered into a prize drawing to win a limited edition camp sweatshirt.

Our campers were really creative with this competition and we received so many awesome pictures! We had campers wearing their red chippies, sweatshirts, shorts, socks, sweatbands and even face paint in the camp colors.

The prize drawing took place on Wednesday March 23rd and was drawn by our Camp Director, Michael Baer with the winners posted to Facebook and Instagram.

Congratulations to Maeve and thank you for showing us your camp spirit. We will be presenting Maeve with the limited edition sweatshirt at the beginning of camp.

We would like to thank everyone who took part in our #HomeInAHundred competition and wore their camp gear to school. You all looked awesome! Below is a collection of all of the entries we received.

It is great to see that our campers are excited and counting down the days until we are all together again…Home on the shores of Silver Lake!

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The 4-3-7 At Silver Lake: The Choice is Yours

Children and families benefit so much from the one-of-a-kind experience at Silver Lake. From the large variety of activities for campers to choose from to the hands-on support of our staff, Silver Lake is unlike any other! Our unique environment allows campers to explore the benefits of larger facilities while maintaining a close-knit community that nurtures your child’s aspirations, skills and independence.

To accommodate all families and campers, Silver Lake offers three summer camp sessions to choose from. The first session last for 4 weeks, the next session for 3 weeks and the last session is simply the combination of both sessions for a total of 7 weeks.

4 Weeks
Screen Shot 2016-02-17 at 11.02.44 AMKick off the summer with 4 weeks of exploring the outdoors, making new friends, learning new skills and enjoying the sun out on the lake!

Our first session is the ultimate summer experience packed into 4 weeks of fun, friends and adventure. It’s a great way for your child to start the summer in a positive, uplifting way. The 4-week program includes all of your children’s favorite summer activities and special events like a day trip to an amusement park, Visiting Day, Color War and SO much more!

3 Weeks
If you are looking for a shorter summer camp experience complete with all the same Screen Shot 2016-02-17 at 11.02.32 AMincredible events and activities, the 3-week program is a great fit for you!

Our 3-week program takes all the amazing camp activities, events and experiences you’d find at a full-summer camp and action-packs them into a shorter session. In three weeks your child will enjoy a variety of camp activities and events, plus a few unique to only to this session. Some of the activities include Carnival, College Bowl competition and the All-Star show.

7 Weeks
Screen Shot 2016-02-17 at 11.03.00 AMAre you ready for the summer of a lifetime? Make this year one to remember during our full 7-week program!

Our last option combines the first two sessions to give your child the full summer camp experience. During the 7-week program campers have the opportunity to explore all the events, trips and activities that interest them. The full session allows campers to truly focus on their passions, make lifetime friendships and develop valuable skills.

What session will YOU attend this summer? The choice is yours!

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The Top 5 Things We Love About Summer Camp At Silver Lake

Nestled among the rolling hills of New York lies a magical place guaranteed to bring you the best summer of your life. Silver Lake provides its campers with a unique camping experience in which they are given access to over sixty activities from Surf Biking, to Globe-Walking. There are so many wonderful things that can be experienced through spending a summer at camp, but a summer at Silver Lake is one that will stay with you forever. Here are a few of the many things we love about summers at Silverlake!

1. The Endless Fun

     Let’s face it, a summer at Camp is one of the most unforgettable experiences you will ever have. Fancy a canoeing trip on the lake? From water skiing to horseback riding, there’s no end to the activities you can be apart of and skills you can learn at Silver Lake! Yes, the fun is endless, but you’re also surrounded by the best of friends, awesome camp traditions, and Silver Lake’s oh-so-silly counselors!

2. The Lasting Friendships

     The best things about spending a summer at Silver Lake are the friendships and memories you take with you. Through a few short weeks, strangers suddenly morph into friends that you know you will keep in touch with for the rest of your life. A camp friend knows your deepest, darkest secrets and your biggest hopes and dreams, and supports you no matter what. With a Silver Lake friend, you’ve ALWAYS got someone to lean on.

3. Being Outdoors All Day, Every Day

     The truth is, you aren’t doing summer camp right if you aren’t covered in dirt at the end of the day. A summer at Silver Lake is all about being outside, rain or shine, and doing absolutely everything in the beauty of nature. Who needs air conditioning when you can take a quick dunk in the lake? You’ll never forget those nights spent sleeping under the stars and you’ll always remember the times you got caught in the rain, but kept having fun. There’s really nothing quite like spending time in nature with your best friends by your side!

4. The Endless Dancing and Singing

     Summer Camps are typically known for their songs, but a summer spent at Silver Lake is guaranteed to have you dancing and singing everywhere you go. It’s pretty ordinary for the counselor sitting next to you to burst into song during lunchtime! And it really doesn’t matter where you go on the campgrounds, everyone is either singing camp songs or dancing around to some of your favorite summer tunes! With a ton of talent shows and dances, Silver Lake is the place to have fun, be loud, and get silly.


5. The Camp Desserts

     You know the feeling! You’re completely worn out after an exciting activity on the lake and the thought of a sugary dessert is making your stomach growl. And absolutely nothing sounds better than a sweet, refreshing mouthful of one of  Silver Lake’s many decadent desserts after a long, tiring afternoon. We love having our own on-site baker who whips out some amazing originals such as elephant ears and black & white cookies. Is your mouth watering just thinking about it?


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Thanks for Sending Me to Sleep-Away Camp, Mom and Dad

by Stefanie Blumer

We really wait 10 months for 2.

IMG_2851 IMG_2850Call me crazy for almost being in my 20’s and still being completely obsessed and in love with my summer camp. Like they say, there is no place like [a second] home. I understand camp isn’t for everyone, especially sleep-away, but honestly I cannot thank my parents enough for giving me this amazing opportunity and life changing experience.

Call me even crazier for telling you that sleep-away camp has taught me almost everything I need to know about surviving in the real world, but it’s true. I learned how to communicate with others, step out of my comfort zone and deal with unexpected situations almost immediately. Even though there was always someone by my side or to look up to, I learned how to become independent, which has truly prepared me for something as scary as going to college all the way across the country from where I live. Camp gave me the courage and confidence to do this, and without it I do not know where I would be.

When I spent my first summer away from home when I was just eight years old, I was scared out of my mind to leave my family. I knew I was going to a place with hundreds of unfamiliar faces for seven weeks. Yup, I am definitely crazy. I was mentally preparing myself for the first day, where I would meet nine other new girls that I would be living with and literally do everything together. There was always the possibility of feeling uncomfortable, which was extremely normal, but just after three days, I felt like I had known these girls forever. Instantly, they became not only my best friends, but my sisters.

What’s EXTREMELY crazy is I lived without texting and Facebook for two months every summer. You are probably thinking how is this possible? Honestly, it was so easy. It’s amazing how you actually have to talk to people face-to-face everyday without that light up screen as a distraction. Because of this, I learned what it was like to actually have fun and at the same time, make incredible friends that I am now able to call my brothers and sisters. (Sounds strange, but it’s really not)

Camp soon turned into an escape from reality. It was a place I became happy when I got sad, relaxed when I was stressed and care free from the million worries I had in the world. It was a place I could be myself, without ever feeling judged. When I got tired of hearing all the gossip run throughout the hallways at school, all I could think of was, “How many more days until camp?” If I didn’t have my camp to turn to, I’m not really sure if I would be the same person I am today.

While seven weeks, aka two months, seems like way too long to be away from home, it is truly not enough time. The bonds you make with the people around you are unexplainable and no one understands unless they have been to sleep-away camp. It has given me the best friends and the ones I will have for life. They are the people you seriously can’t get sick of. They are the people you truly cannot live without. And, they are the people that will give you everlasting memories.

Sorry to my home friends that never understood the withdrawal I went through when I returned home every August. I know you got tired of hearing my stories about how I lost color war or listening to the new lyrics I have to songs, but it’s the only thing that kept me going after being forced to leave my second home too soon.

Mom and Dad, you have no idea what you have done for me. You are the reason I have a second home, an escape from reality, friends to video chat with while I am supposed to be doing homework, people to go on vacation with and an endless list of memories I will always keep close to my heart. I know you had to work hard in order to give me this unforgettable and amazing experience, but I can promise you that every penny will always be worth it.

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The Soft Skills Learned at Sleepaway Camp

By David Katz, Program Director at Camps Chipinaw and Silver Lake, New York.

David Katz, Program Director at Camps Chipinaw and Silver Lake shares with parents the importance of finding a camp that teaches children soft skills.

chipEach year, parents send children off to summer camp with the hopes that that they’ll have fun and make friends. They hope that they’ll learn more skills in soccer and baseball and try out the many crafts activities, too.  They hope they’ll become stronger swimmers and get across the zip line.  The way they know whether their kids had a great summer is how enthusiastically their children write and talk about their new friends, new accomplishments, and newfound skills.

But there’s an even greater value to summer camp that campers say very little about, in large part because they do not realize it’s happening.  At camp, the long-term immeasurable learning of soft skills is an essential part of the program.  The United States Department of Labor identified the skills of communication, networking, enthusiasm and attitude, teamwork, problem solving and critical thinking, and professionalism as the important competencies to the development of a successful young worker.  Unlike schools, camps are intentional about helping young people develop these skills.


At camp, without the intervention of their parents, youngsters must learn to communicate their needs to their counselors.  Young adult counselors do not have (and should not have) the intuitive sense of individual needs that parents have.  This requires that children take initiative to reach out and communicate.  This may make them uncomfortable at first, but the ability to express needs and desires clearly is an essential life skill.  Campers also live in small spaces with many others and must learn to communicate with their peers about shared needs. They have to learn to be good listeners as well as good speakers and learn to compromise for the benefit of everyone in the cabin.


Living in camp provides great opportunities to develop the capacity for networking.  There are many people with whom to interact, and the more campers learn to talk with others about their skills and talents, the more they will grow comfortable with networking, which is an essential personal and business skill.  Children who are shy in school very often become more outgoing at camp because performance pressure is reduced and young adult counselors have more opportunities in informal settings to help children break out of their shells than teachers do in the more controlled, formal settings of classrooms.

Enthusiasm & Attitude

Camp is all about enthusiasm!  Through cheering on Color War teams and getting excited about the winning team in a basketball league, campers are encouraged to be enthusiastic and to develop positive attitudes.  At camp, counselors are the ultimate role models for positive attitude and enthusiasm – these are the primary attributes camps look for in their hiring practices.  Dealing with life’s inevitable disappointments with a positive mental attitude has been shown to be a predictor of personal success.  Because so many of the experiences at camp are new and different, campers often do not succeed at the first try.  Building a capacity for a positive attitude allows campers to continue to make attempts at success.  And, without these attempts, there is no way to achieve something new and great.


Of course, camps are the perfect place to learn and develop teamwork skills.  Campers work together to take care of their living space, to participate on competitive teams, to put on a performance of the annual camp show, to help one another at the ropes course, and to learn songs for the camp’s singing competitions.  Everyone benefits from working with a team.  To be a good team member, campers need to learn communication skills as well.  They need to be introspective, too, and develop a greater understanding of what they bring to the team in terms of skills, ability, personality, and attitude.

Problem Solving & Critical Thinking

The opportunity to live away from home provides campers with the chance to build problem solving and critical thinking skills.  At home, parents are always available to help children solve their problems, but at sleepaway camps, children need to think on their feet and develop solutions to problems on their own, with help from their peers, and with help from their counselors and camp staff.  Practice at problem solving is an essential aspect of living away from home in a camp environment.


Professionalism is a combination of all of the soft-skills that campers learn, and also includes integrity, honesty, and responsibility.  These are values that camps instill in campers.  Most camps have programs that celebrate these character traits and values.

Many parents choose a summer camp for their children based on the facilities and list of varied activities that they can read about in the brochure and see on the website.  It is our belief that parents should ask camp directors about the ways in which they are intentional about teaching these important life skills to youngsters.  Long-term success at camp and at life is built around learning to communicate, networking, being positive, working with a team, solving problems and learning the values of professionalism.  Ask your camp director about it.

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10 Tips For Surviving Your Kids’ First Summer at Sleepaway Camp



The contract is signed, the payment has been made and there is no turning back. Panic, fear and anxiety set in and you can’t breathe. Your child is going to sleepaway camp.

Sleepaway camp can be a rite of passage, and the decision to send your child away is a big one. The first summer, (and the preceding months) is especially big. Kids learn responsibility without a parent rushing to solve every crisis. They take care of themselves and work things out on their own. My son, Ben, was ready last year, but letting go of my first-born proved much harder on me than him. I’d left work a decade ago to focus on my kids and one was already leaving me. It was a mini “empty-nest syndrome.”

When D Day (departure day) arrived, Ben showed his first sign of fear, “I’m not sure I can get on the bus.” The voice in my head shouted “stay home, don’t ever leave me, I’ll take care of you forever,” but I got it together, told him all the other new kids were anxious and once he got there it would be fine. Slightly terrified, he got on the bus, waved goodbye and he was gone. I then did what any sane, rational mom does; I took daughter to a 9AM movie, got her popcorn, M&M’s and cried as she enjoyed Monsters University.

I won’t pretend I didn’t spend all day for two weeks hitting refresh on my computer looking for pictures of him and analyzing every picture posted for signs of happiness or misery. I won’t pretend I didn’t check my mailbox every day waiting for that first letter. And I’ll admit that I cried when I did get that first letter, and every one after. That’s more or less how it goes for seven weeks.

In the end we all emerged from battle war-torn but better for having served. Ben had a great time and grew in ways both expected and unanticipated. My daughter missed him but mostly enjoyed her time at home alone, queen of the castle, and recipient of well-needed second child attention. It was a good summer. If you’re where I was last year, here are some tips for making the transition easier for all of you.

Before the summer…

1. Picking a Camp. There are countless camps to agonize over, options a plenty: co-ed, single sex, close to home, far from home, special hockey program, state of the art gymnastics facility, lake, pool, split session or full session. A friend/owner of a sleep away camp wisely told me, “At the end of the day, they are all just cabins in the woods.” Decide on your top “musts,” tour a few camps and then trust your gut. As long as a camp falls in line with a few of your top priorities, after that, they are all cabins in the woods.

2. Try and connect with a kid in your area before camp starts. Having a familiar face helps and it’s also great to get the real scoop on camp. Returning campers can clue you in to a few key things you need to get that no camp packet or online guide will tell you. Do this a few weeks before camp so you can stick the extra stuff into his duffle bags and he won’t have to carry it on the bus.

3. You will be given a list of camp essentials, follow this list and do not get anything new that you absolutely don’t need to. Stained socks from baseball season, that almost too small fleece that won’t fit in September, perfect! There is no guarantee what will come home and the condition it will come home in. The exception to this rule is the ONE trend that all the kids will have. Last year it was Nike Elite socks. If it’s reasonable for you, let your kid can be in on it. Don’t agonize over the rest of it. Which shower caddy you choose really doesn’t matter, trust me.

Once they’re there…

4. Don’t sweat the small stuff. SPF, showers, nail clipping, hair brushing… camp moms/directors will make sure 85% of this happens. My son came home with a little more sun on his face than ever before, dry patches and an overall stink. I just power washed him as I did every single item that made it back and all came out smelling fresh, if a little worse for the wear.

5. They will get skinny, they’re eating, calm down. At camp, kids run around for 7 hours straight, 7 days a week for 7 weeks. There isn’t enough fuel to keep up with the activity. If your child has an eating issue talk to the director. Otherwise, counselors will let you know if your kid isn’t eating well and in the absence of that alert, don’t freak out. Or, freak out but now you’re prepped for it. As soon as they get home they will gain weight. Ben came home with a huge head and rail thin body. He promptly gained 10 lbs. and was back to his fighting shape.

On Visiting Day…

6. Ask the right questions. Are you lonely, when do you get the loneliest? How is your bed, are you the first to fall asleep or the last? What are your friends like, are you left out? How is the food, are the counselors cool? Do you cry, how much do you miss us? If I let you come home would you? Do you talk to anyone? It’s SO tempting to poke the bear. DON’T. The first words that popped out of my mouth after 3 weeks apart were “are you ok?” “Yeah mom, I’m cool.” He gave me thumbs up and walked back on the field. All I needed to know was summed up in two words, “I’m cool.” There will be a time to get the answers to all your questions and it’s a few weeks after they get home, not the first visiting day.

7. You will be tempted to turn your car into a mobile Dylan’s Candy Bar. Don’t. Find out what your camp policy is regarding candy and crap. Some let kids keep it for a week, some take it away the next day. Bring your kids favorites and bring one thing for the bunk to share, a Cookie Cake is a great idea. You can buy one at the market or go nuts and have a bakery custom make it in camp colors. A little something small for your kid is nice too. A new baseball hat or sports jersey can pep a kid up.

8. Do NOT inspect the cubbies or bathrooms. They will be a mess and they will be gross. I have a feeling the girls bunks may fare better than the boys but it’s all going to be a shit show. Spare yourself.

9. Leave fast. When the bulk of parents start to leave, grab a bunkmate and a counselor. Hug goodbye near the bunk and leave, looking back only once. We were a classic rookie family, making a classic rookie mistake: We had let it linger. It’s easier for you to leave him than for him to be left.

Back at home…

10. I’ve heard some kids have a hard time upon re-entry and that the only thing that helps is time and space. Ben arrived home like he never left. As much as I missed him, after all the agonizing, it slipped away and 48 hours after he came back I was ready to ship him out again.

Finally, a month or two after camp ends is the time to have the talk about everything you wanted to know. Over dinner one October night you can finally unleash all the question you bottled up. The experience is still fresh enough in his mind to answer 75% of your questions. 74% don’t even matter. Ask if they want to go back; it’s the only question you need answered. Ben’s response? “Oh yeah, I’m going back.”

Sleepaway camp isn’t just a great way for a kid to take some safe space and gain independence, it’s that for a parent as well. And you will survive.

– See more at: http://www.scarymommy.com/first-summer-at-sleepaway-camp/#sthash.s6kRC8kc.dpuf

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The Coolest Things About Summer Camp What’s so awesome about summer camp? Check out our top reasons to give your child the experience of a lifetime!


By Jess Michaels

Learn New Activities: Whether your child goes to day or sleepaway camp, he or she will participate in a variety of activities including swimming, waterskiing, tennis, boating, ropes course and so much more. Your child will try new activities that he or she may never have had a chance to attempt before.

Gain Life Skills: The skills needed to be a successful leader in the 21st century include communication, creativity, leadership, responsibility and collaboration. At camp, children develop these skills needed to become secure, contributing, and successful adults.

Build Self-Esteem: Self-esteem-building happens easily at camp. Children acquire new skills at camp, and they watch themselves improve each day throughout the summer. Furthermore, the summer camp community is supportive and encouraging.

Unplug From Technology: According to a Kaiser Family Foundation survey of young people, children spend seven-and-a-half hours a day engaged in electronic media, including cell phones, computers, TV, and video games. Instead of engaging in human interactions, children are staring at screens throughout the year. “Today’s children are growing up in a technological world,” says Ben Esposito, director of Camp Alvernia, a coed day camp in Suffolk County, Long Island. “Now, more than ever, children need the face-to-face social interactions that camp provides. Camp focuses on participation and relationships, rather than passive entertainment.” The majority of summer camps have a no-technology rule, which will allow your child to take a much-needed break from media and focus on building relationships and participating in activities.

Cultivate Self-Reliance: Today’s children are in constant contact with their parents through texting and cell phone calls. Camp gives children a healthy separation from their parents, fostering independence. Michael Baer, owner and director of Camp Chipinaw and Silver Lake Camp, both coed resident camps in the Catskill Mountains, says: “Becoming more independent is the cornerstone of life at camp. Without mom and dad at their side, campers are forced to take on a more independent role at camp. We are constantly reminding our campers to speak up for themselves and once they are met with a positive response, they quickly take to this newfound power.”

Celebrate Traditions: Many camps celebrate special traditions and rituals each summer. Children partake in these rituals, such as color war, candles on the lake, and singing songs. These activities connect children to the generation of campers who came before them and to the history of the camp.

Inspire Reinvention: At home, children have gone to school with the same children for years, and children may be labeled as the shy or the athletic child. At camp, your child can reinvent himself. Camp is an accepting community, and a child can be themselves at camp.

Have Fun: At camp, children are allowed to play in a safe and nurturing environment and are allowed to just be kids. Play is a powerful form of learning that contributes mightily to a child’s healthy physical, emotional, social, and intellectual development. According to an American Academy of Pediatrics report, creative play protects a child’s emotional development and reduces a child’s risk of stress, anxiety, and depression.

Live Communally: Sleepaway camps give children a chance to live communally. “Most of our campers have never had to share a room before,” Baer says. “Suddenly at camp they are in a bunk with up to ten others and learning to navigate and work as a team.”

Meet New People: Camp fosters deep friendships and allows children to meet children from different communities, as well as from around the world. Children also have the opportunity to relate to people of all ages at camp.

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