By Kristen H
The specialists at Camp W in Melville are one of the core reasons that we’ve become Long Island’s premiere day camp. We look for instructors who not only excel at what they’re teaching, but who also exhibit a genuine enthusiasm for their subject and for campers. Their skills are exceeded only by their exceptionally friendly natures, because we believe that being kind and considerate to others is actually the greatest thing they can demonstrate to campers.
As a Suffolk County day camp, we’re fortunate to be able to cull instructors from a large, diverse applicant pool. This has helped us secure excellent specialists for a multitude of activities, including not justones for soccer, baseball, and basketball, but also for cooking, ceramics, dance, gymnastics, our virtual reality experience, and much, much more.
Every camper visits each specialist at least once a week. If they especially enjoy an activity, they can choose to attend it additional times during their choice periods. A typical specialist session begins with approximately ten minutes of instruction, followed by the activity, during which our specialists continue to engage with the kids in order to offer guidance and support.
Each specialist has a plan for how they’re going to conduct that day’s particular session in order to convey the skill being taught, ensure that all of the kids are participating, and get the most fun possible out of that activity or event. We strongly encourage all of our specialists to be creative and try different and unique things with the kids, resulting in new ideas constantly coming to the fore, allowingus to become not just the best camp in Melville, but undoubtedly the most innovative Suffolk County day camp.
We also understand that every kid has their own skill set and skill level, and that some kids might need more help than others. And so our specialists are trained to identify those campers who are having difficulty mastering a particular skill and to give those children the most assistance, typically employing a great deal of positive reinforcement.
Oftentimes kids will say that they “don’t like” a certain sport or activity, when the truth is that they’re just afraid they’re not very good at it and don’t want to feel embarrassed. But I cannot tell you how many times I’ve had campers who were at first hesitant to try something later run up to me and say “Evan! Evan! I can do the dance move now! Watch!” Or “Evan, I got it! I hit the free throw!”
Kids want to show us what they’re capable of; they may be nervous at times, but they usually will try something they’re unfamiliar with if given the right encouragement. And that’s where an effective specialist comes in: they will get kids to come out of their comfort zone and achieve things they did not think they could do, because they understand the power of someone simply believing in you.
The key, of course, isdeveloping the right rapport. Sometimes the best way to do that, we’ve discovered, is by telling kids about yourself and explaining how not everything you know how to do today came naturally; in fact, most things don’t.
It’s also good to get kids laughing. One of my soccer specialists likes to trip over the ball when showing kids how to dribble up the field. He falls on his face and the kids think it’s hysterical. After he’s done embarrassing himself, none of them feel like they can possibly do any worse, so they step off the line and give it a go.
Our ceramics and art instructors, meanwhile, don’t just tell kids “good job” or “that’s nice” – they go beyond that to compliment kids on the artistic decisions they’ve made, saying things such as “I love your color choice” or “I really like your design!” They do this because they understand the importance of not just praising, but praising in a way that recognizes individual achievements, however small they may be.
Specialists can really make or break a camp, which is why we’re so devoted to ensuring that ours are the very best. We’re committed to remaining Long Island’s premiere day camp, and so we’ll continue to pour our energy into making each activity a memorable one.
By Evan Wofsy