Choice Periods at Camp W

Jan 29, 2021

By Rob

Campers want options, and at Camp W we have tons of them. Our Middle Campers get two choice periods a day and our Upper Campers three. With over 80 fantastic activities to choose from, there’s never a shortage of new things for them to try. Whether they want to devote more energy to perfecting their softball swing or just spend some time relaxing with their pals while making crafts or ceramics, we make it all available to them.

Why do we put so much effort into creating such a flexible and diverse list of activities – with not just sports, but podcasting, hip hop dance, rocket-building, and numerous other incredibly fun opportunities? For several reasons, actually: The first is that we want to do all in our power to give every single camper who comes to Camp W the very best summer possible. That means providing them with an experience they won’t soon forget and are unlikely to find anywhere else on Long Island. Second, we believe that giving campers options allows them to explore their interests, exercise independence, and develop skills in multiple areas. And third, more options means more interactions amongst campers, which in turn means developing more friendships –what Camp W is all about.

Countless times parents have called or come up to me and told me how having electives each day has led to their child discovering something new that they liked. In many instances, these interests continue to be pursued long after the summer is over. 

Giving kids options also gives them a sense of freedom: they’re doing what they want – not just what they’re instructed to do. When campers are young – in kindergarten and first grade, say – they benefit from routines, taking comfort in predictability. But as they age, they yearn to do more on their own, to feel empowered to make certain decisions and – to some extent, at least – control what they do and how their time is spent. Once that happens, campersbegin breaking out of their shells and flourishing.

Our electives also give staff the chance to get to know campers better and learn what makes them tick, what they could use a little extra help with, and what their strengths are. We’ve often found, even, that campers who might be struggling with an athletic skill set will still keep coming back to that sport during choice times because they’ve found our staff members – and our specialists in particular – to be extraordinarily supportive. The kids want to return, knowing that they’ll be applauded for their efforts and be able to grow at their own pace.

Having choice periods also makes it possible for parents to stay involved, as they can recommend activities to their child and to us.  Several of our activities began after parents suggested them, and we’re always open to unique ideas.

The openness of the elective periods also allows us to include niche interests, like kite flying or newscasting, which tend to produce smaller, yet no less ardent groups of participants. Just a handful of kids liking something is plenty enough reason for us to have it as an option. After all, some kids want to be Peyton Manning, but others might prefer to emulate Frida Kahlo or Gary Kasparov. Whatever floats your boat, we’re happy to provide the water.

At Camp W of Melville, we’ll always strive to do more to ensure that every camper enjoys every moment of their summer and builds memories to last a lifetime.