Nick at Night

Who remembers watching Nickelodeon growing up? For many of us, thinking of the TV shows we watched when we were younger brings up nostalgia. This year, we decided to combine those nostalgic feelings with the pure fun and silliness that is Nickelodeon into a crazy surprise event! After lunch, we switched up our normal announcements routine and headed out to the hill to watch our lineheads get slimed! Everyone loved watching these special counselors get covered in Nickelodeon-style green slime, but that was only the beginning…

The dining hall was decorated for dinner with streamers and panels showcasing Nickelodeon’s greatest hits throughout the years. During the meal, we played a game of counselor musical chairs — while the music played, counselors roamed the dining hall, showing off their best costumes. When the music stopped, they sat at the nearest table and got to spend time getting to know campers from different cabins and age groups. I loved getting to see all the counselors interact with new campers!

After dinner, we all headed to the gym for an evening program inspired by Nickelodeon’s Double Dare Challenges. We watched as campers and counselors participated in fun and messy challenges like “In Your Egg Hat” – a twist on a classic egg toss, but with a bucket attached to a helmet to catch each egg. However, many people’s favorite part of the evening was the final event. At dinner, each counselor’s chair had a number attached. Our game of musical chairs mixed up the numbers, and to end the night, we randomly selected a few counselor numbers to get slimed! All the campers cheered as counselors got covered in sticky green slime. After experiencing it myself, I can say that waiting for the slime to come was a little nerve-wracking, but the happiness on all the camper’s faces afterwards made it worth it. It was the perfect camp night, full of high energy and a little (lots of) messiness.

Teens Seeking Sensations

Girls Camp for Teens Thrive on Sensation

If you spend time around teenagers, it’s easy to see them exhibit “sensation seeking” behaviors. They thrive on new experiences and stimuli of all kinds, and tend to take surprising risks. In fact it’s widely accepted within psychology that this personality trait is a dominant force in the lives of teen girls and boys. This sensation seeking is thought to be an evolutionary skill, something that helps teens learn new things, become more independent from their parents and to increase their social competence. Overall, it’s a good thing.

On the other hand, chasing novelty like this, even if they’re unaware of it, can sometimes get teenagers into trouble. As a young teen girl or boy is bombarded by urges to experience new things and to be included in their peer group, they may lack the cognitive development to temper risky behaviors, or blindly hold the perceived benefits of that behavior supremely important over everything else. For example, a girl may experiment with drugs at the urging of her friends, effectively ignoring the personal, legal and health consequences of that decision, because she values the approval of her peer group more. Put differently, it’s thought that risky teenage behavior can be understood as “sensation seeking” run amok.

It’s a dilemma; we want our teenagers to experience new things and meet new people, and thereby to learn and grow from that novelty, but we also want them to choose less risky behaviors and seek out positive experiences and peer influences. How to land on the right side of that equation?

Summer camp is well suited to provide this kind of positive sensation seeking for teens. Everyday at sleepaway camp, girls can enjoy new experiences, whether they be climbing a rock, the excitement of shooting a gun, or just making friends with new and different people.

Camp is a pool of positive peer pressure. Chock full of excellent role models, it promises to help teens channel their urge for novelty and their desire to connect with friends. Camp is also a place where teens can take acceptable risks, challenging themselves in exciting new ways, even as parents can be assured their children are kept safe, encouraged and supported. It’s just an ideal environment for teens seeking sensations. It’s no wonder they love it so much!

They Need Summer Camp

If you could reform the common education of teenagers, change something about how teenagers today learn, or what they learn, what would you do? Looking around, what do you think teenagers need to understand? How do they need to change if they are to become happy, well-grounded, satisfied adults? Is there a skill, a personal value, some rule of thumb that you wish all teenagers today would adopt? Is there one crucial thing that today’s teens are missing, and as a result has placed them on a path toward trouble later in life?

You get the picture; the assumption here is that our young people are already having trouble, and aren’t measuring up to the ideal outcomes our education system, culture, and families define. It might be declining test scores, weak academic competencies (compared with children in other countries), unhealthy eating and exercise habits, poor social skills (e.g., difficulty making friends, disrespecting others), decreased creativity, or a general failure to overcome unexpected challenges. Any of these, or several, might be identified as the core problem facing our teenagers these days.

Summer Camp TeenagersSo what can we do to help? If your teen is slipping in any of these ways, how can you improve the situation, make a difference in some way? One proposal suggested, and increasingly so it seems, is to lengthen the school year. It’s claimed that organized classroom education provides the best chance to “reach” the youth and “make a difference in their lives.” As we’ve mentioned before, this is a weak, incomplete solution at best, one that fails to understand the complexities of youth development and the many dimensions it demands. It might be easy to understand and simple to measure, but extending the school calendar is not going to help our teenagers navigate their lives better. If your teen can’t make choices for herself, extra math homework isn’t going to help.

Again, what is there to do? How can we complement our current education system, augment what we already do in the classroom with learning that addresses the complete human being? What experiential gaps should we fill, opportunities should we create, models should we provide? What setting would best support these ordinarily neglected aspects of growing up?

One answer, we, and so many other youth development professionals, advocate is the benefits provided by summer camps. Camps are organized settings that encourage young people to reach beyond what they know, interact with others positively, take responsibility for their own decisions, physically engage the natural world, build self-esteem, and experience meaningful success. Summer camps are incredibly effective educational institutions, that camp parents will tell you, make a huge difference in the health and well-being of their children. Summer camps are just very good at helping children grow in these very important ways.

Yes, we should extend the education of our teenagers and children, not by lengthening the school year, but by providing greater experiential opportunities like those found at summer camps. Send your teenager to camp. That’s what you can do.

climbing teenagers

Top 5 Summer Summer Camp Directories

When searching for summer camps, it’s always good to look at several to compare them and learn about which might best fit your child. You can spend a lot of time searching the Internet and reading different camps’ individual websites, but you can also visit one of the many summer camp directories out there. These are special sites designed to help sift through all the options. You can narrow the complete list of camps by region, by activity specialty, by gender, by type (sleepaway vs. day, e.g.), even by religion. As you enter your preferences, you’ll be presented with a more manageable list of camps to research in more detail, for example by requesting their catalogs and promotional DVDs.

Summer Camp Directories

Ah, but there are lots of summer camp directories out there too!  So here are what we consider the top 5 camp directories to visit.  Each is organized a little differently and will therefore yield somewhat different search results.  Looking for a residential girls camp in the southeast?  In addition to Rockbrook, each of these directories will reveal a range of options.  After spending some time on these sites, you’ll have an excellent idea about which summer camp will be right for your child.

mysummercamps Summer Camps Directory
camppage camps directory
summercamps camp directory
kidscamp summer camps
allensguide summer camp directory
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Camp Builds Teen Self Esteem

NC Teen Camp GirlIt’s not something we talk about much— mostly because it happens without any extra effort —but camp is a place where everyday you can achieve something great. You can make something, do something extra-ordinary (if ordinary is what happens at home or at school), meet some challenge, and feel good about it. For a teen girl, especially, camp proves you can do it, and you can believe in yourself.  It’s a real boost to your self-esteem. Sure things can sometimes go badly, like when you can’t quite hit the target at first, but camp is also a place where you get plenty of encouragement and support from the people around you. Particularly at Rockbrook, we’re not competing. We’re all trying new things and enjoying each other’s company, no matter what our “score.” Here too, it feels so good when you realize that these people are your friends, no matter what. Ask the teen girls that come to camp every summer, and they’ll tell you. It’s just like this.

Kayaking Adventure at Camp

adventure kayaking camps

Outdoor adventure is one of the core camp activity areas at Rockbrook. Our outdoor adventure summer camps focus on backpacking (hiking and camping), rock climbing, whitewater rafting and kayaking. Most recently, rock climbing and kayaking have become increasingly popular, especially with the teens and older girls at camp.

After learning basic kayaking techniques like how to “wet exit” (That’s when you get out of the boat when it tips over upside down.), or how to “roll” (That’s when you roll back rightside up instead of wet exiting.), we head out to some of the local rivers for more outdoor action.  For the more advanced paddlers, we’ll even take trips to the Nantahala river, a Class I, II and III whitewater river nearby.  The mountains of NC, and the rivers that run between them, are just perfect for summer camps and this kind of adventure.

Camp for Teens

Camp Teens GirlsOften when parents begin researching a camp for teens they have some kind of growth experience in mind, something they hope their teen will gain from his or her time at camp. Sure they want the experience to be fun, but they also hope it will be formative too. There’s a lot to go through in your teen years, so having a place in the summer that helps is a good thing.

Some camps are explicitly designed to address these kinds of issues and provide specific activities to help teens gain “personal power,” build “self-confidence and self-esteem” and develop “deep friendships.”  Others, and Rockbrook’s teen program fits in here, emphasize creating a friendly and noncompetetive environment where teens can relax, be themselves, and try new activities.  In this kind of setting and with true encoragement and support, teens find they have hidden talents and abilities and they do grow more confident and capable.  The culture of camp, as the foundation for the excitement and fun, is the driving force for the transformation our teenagers experience and parents appreciate.

The Fun of Archery

Shooting Archery at Camp

Archery for teens and kids is still an amazingly popular thing to do at camp. Even if you’ve never held a bow before, let alone shot an arrow, it doesn’t take long to figure out the basics. And before you know it, you’ll feel really good about hitting the target, even getting a bullseye. Archery is a really old activity. Some of the oldest arrowheads found are more than 50,000 years old, for example! When you think about it, archery has been a part of probably every society to some extent. Wow! And now here it is at a summer camp for girls called Rockbrook!