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2014: Our Dozen Everything Summer Meaningful Moments

Most people look back at year-end to review what they experienced and learned. Helping them look forward to the coming year renewed, and to try to have a plan. We do the same. We are proud of our many efforts to help families, students, camps, programs, professionals, organizations and educational institutions. And giving back is inherent in our work.

Here’s our recap; we’d love to hear about yours!

Camps that really make a difference in others’ lives – so many to mention (which is great), but in our opinion some noteworthy ones in the news or not: Seeds of Peace, Camp Sunshine, Camp Champions, Camp to Belong, Experience Camps for Grieving Children

New programs and trends – more focuses on social entrepreneurship, marrying start-ups with causes, for campers and teens; more STEM opportunities, especially women; continued growth in culinary programs; and happily (in our eyes) more back-to-basics, unplugging emphasis at traditional camps

Pre-College Admissions Survey – we co-authored the 2014 national pre-college summer survey to the top 50 US colleges and universities that focused on how summer experiences influence college acceptances. It’s always important to stay current to provide our clients with knowledge that will best prepare students for college preparation and transitions

Continued media advocacy – we feel fortunate our opinions and thoughts are sought after, helping to spread the word about the benefits of camp and summer experiences. Being youth development advocates is an honor

Our youth development resources expansion – connecting families and students with top professionals to help develop them to their fullest potential

College admissions and stand-out experiences – inspiring and helping our clients self-discover, find their niche, pursue it, and create organic differences year-round that will help them grow individually and become distinct applicants in the future

Camp weddings – love hearing when camp alumni return to their second homes or states where these lifelong memories and friendships began. We even helped one family coordinate a camp wedding in Maine!

Successful international student transitions – so happy to help these students transition to the US, improve their English, try out US college campuses to help put them on their path to higher education in this country

Speaking engagements through education workshops – it has been fulfilling to have the opportunity to speak to organizations such as the Parents League of NY and the JCC Manhattan, educating parents about summer planning for mainstream children and teens, or those with special needs

Camperships for inner city kids – our board work with Summer Camp Opportunities Promote Education is incredibly fulfilling. The Cycle4Camp event and initiative is fun, lets people celebrate their camp spirit and give kids in need the gift of camp!

Our college student & grad career services expansion – it’s a very competitive marketplace and knowing we can provide these millennials with life skills and guidance to jump start their internships and careers today resonates deeply with us

Our clients’ work to give back – it is so meaningful to hear how service experiences impact our students, motivating them to do more; including guiding them to start their own initiatives or finding ways to continue their summer service experience when they return home

So if your year-end includes giving back to pay it forward, please consider gifting a camp or summer experience to a child or teen in need. Some organizations we cite above are causes we believe in and hope you might, too!

Thankful Tips (Thanksgiving and Beyond)

Thanksgiving, my favorite holiday, is upon us. Maybe because my birthday always surrounds the day, maybe because it’s so festive, maybe because it’s about family, sharing, giving. Perhaps all. It makes us realize how truly fortunate we are for who we are and those in our lives, and hopefully good health.

For those in our lives, I mean family, friends and colleagues. For us, so many of these connections are tied to summer. I know I have had the immense good fortune to become close with clients, industry colleagues and professionals with whom I work. Without Everything Summer, I would never have befriended them.

One could say the same about their own personal stories surrounding summer. One set of camp directors shares why parents have camp thankfulness, and another camp organization shares a Camp Thanksgiving story. Both so true and meaningful.

We also know that times together with family can be stressful. Some are at a loss of what to discuss. Should they veer away from certain topics? How can you be politically correct? Well one New York Times writer, Ron Lieber, has some great tips on conversation starters.

One part of Thanksgiving clearly should be a year long tradition, in my books; and that is giving back. My mother volunteered at children’s hospitals; my husband and I ran our town’s educational foundation and annual runs for education; today I sit on the board of Summer Camp Opportunities Promote Education. This work is so fulfilling.

In raising our kids today, we want them to learn (from us and others) to make helping others an organic part of their lives, that stays with them. So discuss areas of human concern that seem to resonate with them and brainstorm this Thanksgiving on ways they can personalize this and continually help others in these areas. Then plan to take a look back next Thanksgiving and discuss the progress they made.

For now, we want to thank all those who have put their trust in us to help their children and teens and young adults discover who they are and their passions, as well as gain confidence and life skills. Knowing we are helping make a difference in their lives is your gift to us.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Ten Themes Everyone Should Live By

We couldn’t help but notice the parallels of 10 Things That Likable People Do Consistently to Thanksgiving, which is soon upon us. No, we’re not talking about stuffing and football, but random acts of kindness and feeling thankful. Happiness is contagious!

This time of year naturally brings together reunions with summer friends and extended family members. It’s important to make positive impressions with those you haven’t seen in a while. Be sure to ask how they’re doing, how you might help them; rather than start with a challenge you are experiencing. Parents, students, friends, and teens alike can all find ways to change their daily routine with these 10 likable traits:

1. Listen without interrupting
2. Smile without smirking
3. Speak without dictating
4. Give without receiving
5. Enjoy without complaining
6. Trust without wavering
7. Promise without forgetting
8. Forgive without punishing
9. Be honest without deceiving
10. Be positive without reservation

We challenge you (no ice buckets this time) to slowly implement each of these likable traits to your daily routine. See how your family members, co-workers and peers respond back. We predict that your patience and generosity will spread. Stay true to your promises. Speak as an equal. Listen more intently. Smile widely.

You might be surprised how quickly you’ll see a change; and how much happier you will be.

Saving Your Kids From Mediocrity

This Today Show segment caught our eyes. It highlights the controversial parenting decision made by David and Jill Fagan, parents of 8 children who reside in Southern California. Here’s why they argue their kids should pay for college on their own and how it’ll transform their children into entrepreneurs.

• Appreciation

Students who pay for their own education value it more because it comes from their hard earned money. It will enrich their experience even more.

• Why Pay To Party?

These parents believe their children are capable of having a successful career without paying for a typical 4 year institution. So if they’re just going to college to have fun, why should it be on their dime?

• Children Are Growing Up Slowly

David & Jill think that if the child doesn’t take on financial responsibilities at a young age, they’ll become sheltered, co-dependent, and back home after graduation.

Here are other lifestyle choices the Fagan’s make in order to avoid mediocrity for their children’s futures.

• Teach self reliance
• Let your kids fail
• Don’t rescue your children
• Love your children no matter what

We find this topic to be very fascinating. First, these lifestyle choices reflect parenting options. We come from the perspective that skinning your knees when young, trial and error, building grit and resilience and kids having skin in the game (i.e. earning money to pay for some of their activities, or spending money for summer programs) only leads to more independence and confidence to navigate life.

Second, in today’s job market, many recent college graduates are getting jobs that don’t require a diploma or complement the major they pursued. However, as noted in the Today Show video, Americans with degrees from 4 year college institutions make 98% more an hour than those without. Although David Fagan is a perfect example of someone who’s been able to have a successful career without a college education, as he’s a self-made entrepreneur.

So what do you think? Are these parents doing a disservice? Or are they saving their children from mediocrity by motivating them to start working early in life to pave their future path?

Purposeful Play

In reading this NY Times article today on the building blocks of a good pre-k, the core benefits of purposeful play jump out at me as not exclusive to these young children. Purposeful play is the cornerstone of what camp provides children.

“As they play, children develop vital cognitive, linguistic, social and emotional skills. They make discoveries, build knowledge, experiment with literacy and math and learn to self-regulate and interact with others in socially appropriate ways. Play is also fun and interesting, which makes school a place where children look forward to spending their time. It is so deeply formative for children that it must be at the core of our early childhood curriculum.”

Isn’t this what camp offers in an intentional manner?

And unfortunately in today’s world, schools have ever increasing pressure to teach academics so that even third graders perform well on standardized tests. Recess is either gone or very short in duration, and arts are often cut from school budgets. We need to work toward getting as many children to camp as possible so their social, emotional, discovery and collaborative skills are optimized.

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