Anna


Produce a Summer Video for Your Camp for <$5

This video cost $5

At Friends Camp, we are a pretty small, non-profit operation. Having a "videographer" on staff, or even freeing up a counselor to regularly take video and edit it, isn't in our budget. We were so excited to figure out a solution that worked for us to make an amazing camp video that didn’t cost a lot in time, money, or effort. 

Led by a few of our amazing summer staff (including Summer Camp Society member Lauren), we created a 1-second-per-day video. Check it out below! Here’s the 6 steps you need to take to make your own.

  1. Download an app that will let you take one-second-per-day of video. We used 1 Second Everyday (https://1se.co/). It costs $4.99, and it actually lets you add 2 1-second clips for each day.

  2. Find someone on your staff who can remember to take a short video clip or two each day. Put a reminder on their calendar or somewhere they will see it each day. Our office manager Emma loved this task, because it was an excuse to get out of the office! PS If they miss a day, nothing bad will happen.

  3. The app will let you edit the clips take. It’s SO easy. Partway through the summer, check in on your progress. Do you have enough active clips? Enough of peoples’ faces? Is there something you want to capture that you haven’t yet?

  4. Decide what you want your background sound to be. A favorite camp song of the summer? Or, you could have your staff sing a camp song and record it as a voice memo on your phone.

  5. Find a tech-savvy counselor to make the background music the right length and to add a beginning and ending screen. Say what you will about “Gen Z”, but damn they are good at this kind of thing.

  6. Share all over social media!

Summer Camp Society folks also had some great suggestions about additional ways to use the one-second-a-day video at camp. What other ideas do you have to use this at camp?

  1. Surreptitiously put together a video and surprise your staff with it on the last day.

  2. Have a shared phone that staff can grab and take video, so the video comes from lots of different folks’ perspectives. Even include campers!

Want New Ideas For All Camp Games and Staff Training Sessions?

IMG_2616.jpg

ANNA HOPKINS
DIRECTOR -
FRIENDS CAMP
FACILITATOR -
THE SUMMER CAMP SOCIETY
ANNA@THESUMMERCAMPSOCIETY.COM

Sending a Camper Home: Guidelines for Myself

A post from Anna Hopkins, Camp Director at Friends Camp in Maine, co-facilitator of the Emerging Leaders Semester, and one of the best camp directors you probably haven’t heard of, yet.

Anna describing “The Bat” at TSCS Conference Spring 2018

In our weekly TSCS Executive Semester online meeting, we were discussing the topic of sending campers home from camp. Inspired by lessons learned from my camp mentor Nat Shed, I have a little list of "guidelines" for myself to follow any time I send a camper home from camp. I left an abbreviated version of these in a top drawer in my desk this summer, with the intention that it would help me follow good protocol and not get too absorbed in the emotional back-and-forth of kicking a kid out of camp. Jack asked if I could share. Here goes!

(1) There’s usually no need to make a decision this second. It's okay to take a little time to call my mentor/ write a pro-con list/ be quiet for 20 minutes and find the truth of whether or not this camper stay at camp.

(2) If a camper is going home, call the family and arrange a pick-up plan before you tell the child. The last thing you want is an angry or devastated child who then needs to wait 24 hours for a pick-up because his parents are out of town. Tell the camper they are going home about 1-2 hours before parents or guardians arrive, depending on the child and situation.

(3) The time before the child leaves can still be valuable for them. Have a staff member or two who they trust spend time with them, and see if they can have a productive conversation about leaving camp. Maybe they can toss a ball around and discuss their successes and challenges over the last week.

(4) When the child does leave, have an "exit meeting" with the parent and child. Make sure you highlight the child's successes to the parent. If the child is getting kicked out of camp, chances are this has happened to them elsewhere. No child is 100% failure. Failures hurt and add up over time, and if you can help this child see how they still have light inside of them (while being really clear about what boundaries they crossed), that is a good thing. 

(5) If this camper might be able to return next summer, make sure to tell the child and the parents, separately and together. If it’s true, the “you are still welcome here” message can be deeply impactful to campers and families. [Thanks Jason for this addition!]

(6) I tell the camper's cabin group that evening, with a 2-ish sentence explanation. I say it's okay to be sad or to be happy about it, and if people want to talk they can talk to me or their counselor. Kids are not typically surprised.

(7) I tell the whole camp briefly at our next business meeting (happen daily in the morning). I don't offer details about that child, but I let the whole group know they had to leave. I suggest we hold that camper in the Light (Quaker language) and tell campers they are welcome to ask questions to me or another point person if they have them.

(8) Follow up with the camper’s counselor(s). They probably feel like they failed. Go for a walk with them, and reassure them (or have an assistant director with more time go for a walk with them). You can also ask if there’s anything they'd like to do differently next time and hear their perspective on how you handled it as a camp director.

(8) Make a note in the camper's file on CampMinder about everything that happened. I will forget portions by next year, and it will be relevant if this camper wants to try coming back to camp.

(9) Do a face mask that evening after everyone else at camp is asleep. Being the camp director is hard sometimes. Unload to your non-camp support system if you need to. Sometimes someone needs to take care of you, so you can do your best taking care of camp.

Want more free stuff to make running camp easier and awesomer?

IMG_2616.jpg

Anna Hopkins
Director -
Friends Camp
Facilitator -
The Summer Camp Society
anna@thesummercampsociety.com

Our First Summer with a Gender-Expansive Cabin 

In 2018, we offered our first gender-expansive cabin option (in addition to boys’ and girls’ cabins). We are really glad we did it, and we plan to continue this option. Here’s a few of the things we learned:

  1. Our camper families were WAY more supportive than we thought they might be. They weren’t just “okay” with this—they were amped about it

  2. We don’t have changing rooms or bathrooms in any of our camper cabins. We ordered a simple changing tent from Amazon, and now I want to order one for ALL our cabins. It is easy to set up (pop-up), portable, and helped make campers feel comfortable with the changing situation. Under $30-- order here!

  3. We also modified a bathroom to be an “everybody” bathroom this summer, and made sure the gender-expansive cabin was close by. We used tall stalls (almost floor-to-ceiling). This bathroom was open to all campers who felt more comfortable using it.

  4. This cabin was designed to help gender non-binary, trans, or other campers feel more comfortable at camp, but of course those folks were also welcome in a girls or goys cabin if that felt more comfortable. This cabin was not designed to exclude or separate gender non-binary folks, but rather recognize and affirm their identities. 

  5. In order to have enough campers to fill the space, it was also open to cis-gender campers who felt like it was a good space for them. I had to approach a few families specifically in order to get enough campers signed up, but I don’t anticipate having to do this in the future now that campers know what it’s all about.

  6. We had multiple campers who attended camp ONLY because this cabin was an option. You probably have some, too. We didn’t know who we were excluding with the binary model until we broke out of it.

  7. We had very experienced staff members lead this group. Both happened to be gender non-binary, but we think cis folks could also lead the space well with proper support.

  8. When I wrote a letter to our families explaining it, I had all parties I possibly could read the letter first (board members, parents, staff members, fellow camp directors). This helped me make sure I was addressing all concerns, being proactive, and using the most inclusive language I could. I also  read the letter aloud to the whole staff right before our teen sessions began, to remind them of the reasons behind the decision.

  9. There’s a wonderful website you can point confused parents to—www.genderspectrum.org.

  10. In case it’s helpful to you, here’s the text of the letter we sent to families! 

Boats.jpg



Dear Parents,

I am writing to you about a new cabin option we are piloting at Friends Camp during the Fell Session this year. As a Quaker camp, we affirm our campers and families of all identities—this means we work hard to affirm your child for who they are when it comes to family background, racial identity, religious beliefs, gender identity, and more. To affirm and nurture our youth, we are going to offer an optional gender-expansive cabin in addition to our boys’ and girls’ cabin units.

We are proud to be a camp for kids of all genders, where campers are free to make platonic friendships with others regardless of gender. At the same time, we value the opportunity for single-gender spaces, especially with our teens. Our young adult counselors are well-positioned to be role models and provide guidance to campers who are developing their identities as young women and men. To be with others experiencing similar challenges and joys around growing up can be an important factor in youth development. We value our girls’ and boys’ cabins and do not plan to eliminate this element of our program.

While we value single-gender experiences in our cabins at camp, some of our campers don’t fit in the boxes of “boy” or “girl.” In order to offer a gender-identity affirming experience for all campers, we will offer a cabin for campers who identify outside the gender binary where they can be with campers and staff members who also identify outside the binary. Some campers might describe their identity as “non-binary,” others might use terms such as “a-gender,” “gender-non-conforming,” or “genderqueer.” An umbrella term used by many engaged in our society’s work for gender justice and inclusion is “gender-expansive.” We hope that by creating a gender-expansive cabin option, campers who are often targeted by misunderstanding or forced to conform to gender expectations not true to who they are will be able to fully be themselves in a safe and supportive space. 

If you and your camper are interested in them being in a gender-expansive cabin this summer, contact me before July 15th. This cabin is open to all interested families. Even if your camper does not identify as gender-expansive but you and they feel this cabin would be a good place for them, please do let me know. If you don’t contact me, your camper will stay in a cabin of the gender specified when you registered for camp. 

A few questions you might have:

- I’m not familiar with the term non-binary gender identity or gender expansiveness. What is all this about? According to www.genderspectrum.org, gender-expansive is an umbrella term used for individuals that broaden their own culture’s commonly held definitions of gender, including expectations for its expression, identities, roles, and/or other perceived gender norms. Gender-expansive individuals include those with transgender and non-binary identities, as well as those whose gender in some way is seen to be stretching society’s notions of gender.

- My camper is a boy (or a girl) and isn’t questioning their gender identity. Is that still going to be okay? Is this decision going to change their time at camp? Unless you specifically ask for your camper to be in this cabin, he or she will stay in the cabin you specified when you signed up for camp. We are offering this option to our campers who opt in. We work to make sure that all campers going home from Friends Camp have had an affirming experience, including your camper who loves being a boy or being a girl!

- Is this definitely happening? It is subject to interest. We would love to have enough interested campers to make this a reality, but we are not 100% sure it will happen this summer. If we don’t have enough campers enroll to fill a cabin, I will be in touch with interested families to make a plan.

- Why this session? Why now? For a while, we have hoped to be able to offer this option at Friends Camp. Our Camp Committee felt this year’s Fell Session was the right time to give it a try, since we have some wonderful staff members excited about helping out and we have had some families specifically request this option.

- How will my camper maintain their privacy in this cabin? Our cabins are all one room, without a changing room or bathroom. We will provide a changing screen in this cabin, to increase camper comfort. Campers are always welcome to change in the private bathrooms at camp, as well. (We hope to have these in all cabins someday!) Consent and appropriate boundaries are taught and required everywhere at camp.

- What if my camper says they want to be in the gender-inclusive cabin once they arrive at camp? While we recognize that teenage identities are often in flux and may change, we aren’t able to change a camper’s cabin assignment once they are at Friends Camp. If your child is interested in this option (and you are, as well), we need to hear by July 15th. Of course, it is up to you as a parent/ guardian which cabin assignment is right for your camper.

- My child is interested in this cabin option, but I don’t want their experience at camp to be ALL about gender. This cabin will simply be a “home base” at camp, and all campers will participate in the normal program at camp. We hope this space will allow them a chance to have some conversations about gender if they want to, but more importantly to just be themselves and enjoy the regular parts of the camp experience. 

It has always been and still is okay to be yourself at Friends Camp, whether or not we end up having a gender-inclusive cabin at camp this summer. As always, I am happy to speak with parents about any concerns related to this issue. You can reach me at (207) 445-2361 or director@friendscamp.org.

Warmly,
Anna Hopkins
Camp Director

Anna Hopkins is the newest facilitator for The Summer Camp Society Semester.

13320458_10154308349239416_9007072793486506080_o.jpg

Anna Hopkins
Director
Friends Camp
Facilitator The Summer Camp Society
anna@thesummercampsociety.org