“Caring by Design” Spring 2015 / Volume 1 Issue 2

It’s a well-known secret that Disneyworld is full of underground tunnels.  These tunnels leave the “nitty-gritty” work of running a park  out of sight of those experiencing the Disney magic.  Like Disneyworld Camp Wise is the “Home of Happiness.”  Although there are no secret tunnels under camp, our year-round and seasonal staff do a tremendous amount of work “behind the scenes” to create a welcoming , supportive environment for each individual camper during summer.   Here we’ll spell out tools we use and systems we employ in order to care for the needs of each camper.

 “It takes a village to raise a child.”  At Camp Wise each camper lives in a cabin with kids his or her own school-grade.Kari Naomi We feel this allows  him/her to build close relationships with kids who are at a similar point in their social and emotional development.  Cabins all have three or four staff members , keeping the cabins below a 1:4 ratio, and allowing staff to build meaningful relationships with campers.  Unlike many camps who then organize their cabins on a “girls side” and a “boys side” we intentionally group our cabins in distinct age-group villages.  These villages consist of four or five boys cabins and four or five girls cabins clustered around a central gathering space.  Villages build a unique identity and sense of pride over the summer as kids participate in daily electives exclusively with  their own village, sit at cabin tables grouped by village at meals, participate in evening program together, and come up with their own unique cheers and mascots.  Villages allow kids to make friends outside of their cabin, and feel safe in their own smaller community.

 Daily Touch Base Meetings Villages are supervised by experienced staff over 21 who each mentor 4-5 cabin counselor teams on how to best care for the kids in their cabins.  Every morning village supervisors meet with a Camp Wise Assistant Director, the Camp Wise Social Worker, and our Infirmary Manager in order to  discuss the success and challenges of each camper in the cabin.  This way our professional staff can help provide strategies  for success within a thriving cabin dynamic.  This also gives our staff a direct channel to voice any concerns, be on the same page about health issues, and keep our camper care program running cohesively.

 Confidential Camper Questionnaire, First Time Campers Do-It-Yourself Questionnaire, & Returning Camper Questionnaire We ask you and your camper(s) to provide us with a lot of information prior to camp.  We use this information—coming from multiple perspectives–to prepare your child’s counselors to best care for your camper as an individual. Special attention is paid to behavior management tips, camper’s adjustment to overnight camp, social history, and the camper’s hopes for the summer. We never share private family information, camper’s medical needs, or mental health diagnoses without consent from parents.

sociogramSociograms Camp Wise was an early adopter of sociograms, a tool that allows counselors to visually map cabin dynamics and friendships. This tool identifies friendship groups and provides the staff  data to  help nurture

camper growth and  provide engaging activities to best support the development of the cabin group. Sociograms are completed by your child’s cabin counselor team early in the session, and revisited frequently.  Sociograms allow our village supervisors to monitor the growth and changing dynamics of cabins over the course of a session in order to best mentor cabin staff on how to support their cabins.

Camper Support Plans (CSPs) Inspired by the use of Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) in schools, this new tool is specifically designed for campers who may need additional support during the summer. Camp Wise staff including an Assistant Director and Social Worker collaborate with parents and campers prior to the summer to write a plan for camper success. Campers who use the CSPs will also meet with an Assistant Director, Camp Social Worker, or Camper Care Specialist as need to scaffold their ultimate success throughout the summer.

We hope that the above information gives you some insight into the “behind the scenes” work that goes on to ensure that your child’s summer is incredible. We are looking forward to an amazing summer at Camp Wise.  As always please be in touch with any questions, comments, or concerns.