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Where do we find all of our awesome international staff?

One of the awesome features of Kennolyn Camps is our diverse group of international staff.  So how do we find all of these great people?  First, a little bit of background.

Summer Camps use a special visa, part of the J-1 visa program, to welcome counselors from around the world.  Our helpful behind the scenes support staff, also arrive on special temporary work visas.  These visas are the same as used by resorts, hotels, ski areas, etc. There are numerous agencies that help us by recruiting and interviewing potential candidates.  Then it’s up to us to find the best among them.

Over the past few weeks, we traveled to Poland, Czech Republic, and Scotland to interview some of these candidates face-to-face.  Although technology does allow us to conduct interviews easily from our office, we much prefer the opportunity to meet candidates in person.  We do this by attending job fairs that are organized by the recruitment agencies.

Sam, Miles, Ben, and Charlotte at the Edinburgh fair.

The fairs can be long and quite grueling but totally worth it.  We met some amazing people who are all now waiting eagerly to go the US Embassy in their home country to get their visa approval.  Soon it will be time for them to head to California for a summer working with our campers.

While we are there, the agencies try and give us an overview of the local culture.  The whole point of the visa program is cultural exchange and it starts on these trips. When the staff are with us they will all have a chance to make a fun, interactive cultural presentation to our campers.

Enjoying a presentation of traditional Czech music and dance.

Supporting Successful Parenting

Our latest parenting resource actually has a dual purpose.  We liked it because it addresses the important topic of how parents must sometimes see past a child’s misgivings about an opportunity or experience and make a decision that goes against the child’s initial wishes.  We also like it because it helps to answer one of the most frequently asked questions we hear in the office: “Should I sign up my child for a one or two week session?”  Dr. Christine Carter, PHD of the Greater Good Science Center is the author of Raising Happiness and a frequent speaker and TV guest.

During our summer camp programs, our daily goal is to keep kids happy.  That’s why we’re here.  And, we recognize that achieving a sense of happiness doesn’t always mean instant gratification or easy satisfaction.  Part of the reason we have a few mandatory elements to our program, outpost for example, is because we know that kids will often talk themselves out of opportunities that appear difficult or daunting and yet can be ultimately fulfilling and encourage happiness.  Dr. Christine Carter appears in a podcast that discusses her experience sending her girls to sleepaway camp.  It’s a short discussion but makes some excellent points about the camp experience and parenting overall.  The highlights for me were the following:

Dr. Carter had her own great camp experience and as a result sought out a similar experience for her daughters who were not, at first, excited by the idea.  We know from talking to our camp families that this is a common scenario. Dr. Carter persevered past her children’s doubts but had her own parental doubts, of course.

Dr. Carter insisted that her children try camp for the wide range of outdoor experiences she knew they would have.

She registered them for a two week session rather than one week for the first experience so they would have time to “adjust, really form friendships and get something out of it.”

She asked herself if she was comfortable with their level of discomfort because she valued the experience they could have.

Dr. Carter points out that the “harder parenting thing to do and the more skilled parenting thing to do” is to follow through on opportunities we feel would be good for our kids despite their misgivings.

Her daughter’s had a great time at camp!

Listen to the podcast and see what you think. http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/gg_live/happiness_matters_podcast/podcast/summercamp/

It is hard sometimes to look beyond our children’s initial fears or trepidation.  Kennolyn offers challenging situations presented to children in a nurturing environment where failure is never ridiculed but instead celebrated as one of the steps to success.  And when we as parents know an experience can ultimately be fulfilling, it’s the right parenting thing to do to engage our children in that experience.

How to Motivate Your Kids to Do Homework

At Kennolyn we have always believed that we are in a partnership with parents to raise their children. Our role in the partnership is minor, of course, but important. After all, our continuing goal is to provide a place for adventure and personal exploration and to encourage and reinforce values that are important to parents and families. To enhance this partnership, we will be posting monthly articles on our blog with parenting information that we find interesting and you might too.

How to Motivate Your Kids to Do Homework
(without having a nervous breakdown yourself)

By Chick Moorman and Thomas Haller

(originally posted at NewsForParents.org)

Tired of arguing, nagging and struggling with your kids to get them to do homework? Are you discovering that bribing, threatening, and punishing don’t yield positive results? If so, this article is for you. Here you will find the 3 laws of homework and 8 homework tips that if implemented in your home with consistency and an open heart, will reduce study time hassles significantly.

The First Law of Homework: Most children do not like to do homework.

Kids do not enjoy sitting and studying. At least, not after having spent a long school day comprised mostly of sitting and studying. So give up your desire to have them like it. Focus on getting them to do it.

The Second Law of Homework: You cannot make anyone do it.

You can not make your child learn. You cannot make him hold a certain attitude. You cannot make him move his pencil.

While you can not insist, you can assist. Concentrate on assisting by sending positive invitations. Invite and encourage you child using the ideas that follow.

The Third Law of Homework: It’s their Problem.

Their pencils have to move. Their brains need to engage. Their bottoms need to be in the chair. It is their report cards that they bring home.

Too many parents see homework as the parent’s problem. So they create ultimatums, scream and shout, threaten, bribe, scold, and withhold privileges. Have you noticed that most of these tactics do not work?

Our responsibility as parents is to provide our children with an opportunity to do homework. Our job is to provide structure, to create the system. The child’s job is to use the system.

Tip # One

Eliminate the word homework from your vocabulary. Replace it with the word study. Have a study time instead of a homework time. Have a study table instead of a homework table. This word change alone will go a long way towards eliminating the problem of your child saying, “I don’t have any homework.” Study time is about studying, even if you don’t have any homework. It’s amazing how much more homework kids have when they have to study regardless of whether they have homework or not.

Tip # Two

Establish a study routine. This needs to be the same time every day. Let your children have some input on when study time occurs. Once the time is set, stick to that schedule. Kids thrive on structure even as they protest. It may take several weeks for the routine to become a habit. Persist. By having a regular study time you are demonstrating that you value education.

Tip # Three.

Keep the routine predictable and simple. One possibility includes a five minute warning that study time is approaching, bringing their current activity to an end, clearing the study table, emptying their back pack of books and supplies, then beginning.

Tip # Four

Allow children to make choices about homework and related issues. They could choose to do study time before or after dinner. They could do it immediately after they get home or wake up early in the morning to do it. Invite them to choose the kitchen table or a spot in their own room. One choice children do not have is whether or not to study.

Tip # Five

Help without over-functioning. Only help if your child asks for it. Do not do problems or assignments for children.

When your child says, “I can’t do it, ” suggest they act as if they can. Tell them to pretend like they know and see what happens. Then leave the immediate area and let them see if they can handle it from there. If they keep telling you they don’t know how and you decide to offer help, concentrate on asking than on telling.

Ask:

“What do you get?”
“What parts do you understand?”
“Can you give me an example?”
“What do you think the answer is?”
“How could you find out?”

Tip # Six

If you want a behavior you have to teach a behavior. Disorganization is a problem for many school age children. If you want them to be organized you have to invest the time to help them learn an organizational system. Your job is to teach them the system. Their job is to use it. Yes, check occasionally to see if the system is being used. Check more often at first. Provide direction and correction where necessary.

If your child needs help with time management, teach them time management skills. Help them learn what it means to prioritize by the importance and due date of each task. Teach them to create an agenda each time they sit down to study. Help them experience the value of getting the important things done first.

Tip # Seven

Replace monetary and external rewards with encouraging verbal responses. End the practice of paying for grades and going on a special trip for ice cream. This style of bribery has only short term gains and does little to encourage children to develop a lifetime love of learning.

Instead make positive verbal comments that concentrate on describing the behavior you wish to encourage.

“You followed the directions exactly and finished in 15 minutes.”

“I notice you stayed up late last night working on your term paper. It probably wasn’t easy saving that much to the end, but your efforts got it done.”

“All your letters are right between the lines. I’ll bet your teacher won’t have any trouble reading this.”

“I see you got the study table all organized and ready to go early. Looks like initiative and responsibility hooked together to me.”

Tip # Eight

Use study time to get some of your own responsibilities handled. Do the dishes, fold laundry, or write thank you notes. Keep the TV off! If you engage in fun or noisy activities during that time children will naturally be distracted. Study time is a family commitment. If you won’t commit to it, don’t expect that you children will.

Special Note: tonight when your child is studying, begin on your homework assignment, which follows. Reread this article. Decide which parts of it you want to implement. Determine when you will begin. Put it in writing. Then congratulate yourself for getting your homework done.
Chick Moorman and Thomas Haller are the authors of “The 10 Commitments: Parenting with Purpose,” to be released in November and “Couple Talk: How to Talk Your Way to a Great Relationship” (available from Personal Power Press at (toll-free) 877-360-1477). They also publish FREE email newsletters, one for parents and another for couples. Subscribe to one or both at ipp57@aol.com. Visit www.chickmoorman.com and www.thomashaller.com.

Giving the Ultimate Gift: Camp

(Originally posted at CampParents.org)

Is this scene familiar? You are standing in the aisle at your local toy store during the holidays trying to decide what would be the best gift. The problem is that your child has just about every toy in the store. Legos? Check. Trucks? Check. Electronic gadgets? Check, check, and check. OR, perhaps in a world of mega-birthday parties, you don’t know what to get that special child in your life that will really stand out — the gift that they will genuinely appreciate, and that will last beyond the cake and ice cream.

Look no further — camp is the answer. Camp is the ultimate gift, especially when you consider that according to research from The Children’s Mutual, 41 percent of toys and presents given during the December holidays are broken by March. The camp experience can’t be broken, or left on a shelf — it has to be lived. And it will forever change those who live it for the better.

You may be thinking, “Change lives? How do tents and campfires and beaded key chains change lives?” And, for many who have never experienced camp first-hand, this can seem like a bit of an overstatement. But it is true — for over 150 years, the camp experience has changed millions of lives for the better.

Camp Boosts a Child’s Sense of Self

Today’s children and youth must navigate through increasingly complex waters. A strong sense of self is paramount. Families want their children to develop genuine confidence, and an awareness of their place in the world — recognizing that they are critical to success and autonomy as an adult, and that these are things that can’t be bought or taught. They have to grow organically. That is where camp comes in.

According to ACA research, 92 percent of campers reported that the camp experience helped them feel good about themselves, and 70 percent of parents reported that their child gained self-confidence as a direct result of the camp experience. That is a huge step in the right direction.

In addition, camp provides authentic mentoring relationships with caring and positive adults. These mentoring relationships can be crucial when helping young adults make critical decisions regarding alcohol, illegal drugs, and risky behavior. According to Teens Today, young people who have attended a day or overnight summer camp are less likely to drink, use marijuana, or engage in sexual behavior than are their non-camper peers.

Camp Develops Twenty-First Century Life Skills

The children and youth of today will be tomorrow’s thinkers, doers, and leaders. A lot of time has been spent analyzing what skills, in addition to self-confidence, will be needed to be a successful, contributing adult in the twenty-first century. Many of these skills — things like character, independence, empathy, problem-solving abilities, and teamwork — are not taught in traditional education settings.

Experts agree that participation in intentional programs, like camp, go a long way toward developing these essential twenty-first century life skills. Where you may see a group of campers laughing and building a small rope bridge, the youth development professional sees problem-solving and teamwork skills being enhanced. Through activities and games and cabin time, campers are growing by leaps and bounds.

Camp Is Critical to a Child’s Education

The education debate has gained a lot of media attention recently, and with good reason. America’s children are beginning to lag behind other nations in regard to academics. Now, more than ever, families are painfully aware of issues like summer learning loss and standardized academic testing.

Camp is one of the oldest and finest community-based experiential education and development models in America. Camp truly is a classroom without walls — providing fun designed around intentional programming. Camp is the natural extension of traditional education — a deliberate, expanded learning environment that provides an experiential education like no other.

Camp focuses on the whole child — providing physical, social, and developmental growth, all of which are precursors to academic achievement. Camp is an equal opportunity life changer and provides hands-on experiences that allow all children — even those who struggle in traditional educational settings — to feel successful and have a sense of accomplishment.

Camp Is Fun

Perhaps one of the greatest gains that children and youth get from a camp experience is the opportunity to just relax, have fun, and be kids. Through positive camp experiences, children will make lasting memories and life-long friends. They will experience the joy of splashing through puddles and the wonder of sitting in a quiet meadow and looking at the stars.

There is no pressure to perform, no homework waiting to be done. At camp, children are surrounded by friends — part of a community that protects and nurtures them. And they feel safe — safe to try new things and safe to be proud of who they really are.

By giving the special child in your life the gift of camp, you are giving them the ultimate gift — independence, self-confidence, friendships, and competencies. Camp never breaks, it never expires or gets moldy. There won’t be a newer version released mid-summer, rendering all previous versions obsolete.

The gift of camp is real — giving children and youth real experiences, real opportunities for genuine growth, and unlimited potential.