We don’t believe in remaining sedentary for too long at Camp W in Melville. Sure, we all enjoy lunch with friends or creating new things together at the Arts & Crafts tables, but part of what makes the summers so great here is that all of the kids remain constantly active – swimming, playing sports,Nerf Battlefield,baseballand obstacle courses, and generally getting in an incredible amount of exercise.
Physical activity is one of the keys to a strong heart and happy life. It brings numerous health and social benefits, and has been proven to prevent and alleviate various illnesses, including asthma and diabetes. It’s also been shown to aid memory, reduce stress, and improve grades at school, believe it or not. And instilling healthy habits early on, we know, helps to set a pattern that kids can continue to follow into adulthood. The American Academy of Pediatrics recognizes this: they recommend that children 3-5 engage in no less than three hours of daily physical activity, and that older kids get in at least an hour of moderate to vigorous activity a day.
We take this very seriously at Camp W, because it truly is important, for both the body and the spirit. We want kids to be so engaged that nothing negative could possibly even enter their minds. We want them practicing teamwork, learning new skills, giving it their all, and advancing beyond their own expectations.
While we’re always careful to make sure that everyone receives a proper amount of rest and hydration, breaking up activities and remaining mindful of heat conditions, we also know that sitting on the sidelines is no way to have fun and not helpful when it comes to a child’s confidence and development.As we always say, we want parents to see kids coming home with expressions of exhausted exhilaration, because that is the hallmark of a day well spent – all that sweat comes with smiles.
So, in addition to the tremendous amount of sports we offer, we go even further, providing a variety of other exercise-related activities, including dance, gymnastics, Jump the Brook, and fitness training. Kids can participate in small groups with a high degree of personalized instruction, and can learn techniques that they can continue to practice at home. This is a level of dedication to physical activity that we honestly believe is unmatched by any other Long Island day camp.
Fulfilling this objective requires hiring top-notch staff and trainingthem to be well informed, supportive, and enthusiastic. Our instructors know how to get that extra rep, lap, or jump out of a camper. They can discussthe benefits of exercising, show kids the proper way to do it, and give them tips for remaining active. And our staff members don’t just talk: they inspire by doing. This goes not just for specialists, but for our counselors as well, who you’ll see rallying the kids as they run up the soccer field or go for the touchdown. Because we understand that the difference between success and failure is often a matter of maintaining the proper mindset, and that you don’t have to be the biggest, the strongest, or the most talented, even – you just have to try hard and keep your head up.
Not every camper, of course, is going to have the same stamina or ability. We’re very cognizant of this fact. The goal isn’t to make them into Olympic athletes; it’s to advance each child to their next personal best and show them what they’re capable of.It’s to take that camper who can’t do a pull-up and get them doing four or five by the end of the summer.
Time and again, I’ve had parents tell me how they never saw their child so active as they did during their summer at Camp W, expressing surprise at how much new energy their child seems to have. But it’s always been in there, I tell them; we just know how to tap into it.
By Evan Wofsy