August 17, 2012

This week in Storytelling we learned about the history of our camp. This slideshow features photographs from the late 30's, 40's and 50's of Pinecrest Dunes, the camp that existed on our grounds before Peconic Dunes. The camp was a very different place back then, so to immerse ourselves in the history of it, we pretended to be Pinecrest Dunes campers and wrote letters home! Special thanks to Peter Warns, Chris Colahan and all the alumni who have contributed to our growing store of pictures, maps, and stories of our camp history.

August 13, 2012

This week the bloggers got all fired up about fire building. We were stoked to learn about all the cool techniques and materials you can use to heat things up on a chilly night in the great outdoors. Thanks to all the interviewees out of whom  we smoked our answers and of course our listeners who keep our burning for learning alive!

"Thy tongue, thy face, thy limbs, actions and spirit, Do give thee five-fold blazon: not too fast soft, soft!" - William Shakespeare 

August 6, 2012


This week the bloggers interviewed Maggie (Art Free Play Instructor) and Jeff (Videography Instructor) about some of the aspects of their Choice programs. These interviews gave us a lot of insight on what the creative process can teach us. Thanks to our gracious interviewees and of course our listeners!

July 27, 2012


This week the Digital Storytelling group focused on creating stories with a moral. We were inspired by a camp story told by waterfront counselor Andrew Capone about a wise man who taught three villagers the value of seeing the beauty in everything and not focusing on the negative. Each storyteller chose a moral that they believed in and wrote a tale that would teach others its significance. Thanks to all who wrote and recorded with us this week and of course our listeners!

July 23, 2012

This week the bloggers headed down to the beach to interview the sand sculpting group. We learned some interesting techniques and got a chance to see really cool designs. Many thanks to the interviewees and of course our listeners!

July 17, 2012

This week the Digital Storytelling group worked off of the theme "Urban Legends and Campfire Tales." The story we created was based off of a camp legend which had been passed down for many years. The original story was called "The Fulton Brothers", but the storytelling group decided to rename the main characters after two counselors they really liked. "Sleep Tight" is a moral tale which teaches us that pranks and bullying have no place at camp. So, while we hope you get a good scare, we also hope listeners can learn something.

July 11, 2012

The premiere of the Peconic Podcast features an interview with Jacob Boivin (day camper) and a peek into the camp's spectacular production of 'The Walrus and the Carpenter.'

May 23, 2012

Don't Bring This to Camp!

Blog posted by Sarah Marcus, STEM Director/Educator

STEM=Science,Technology, Engineering, Math

Hampsters…And other things you shouldn’t bring to camp.

Every summer a new wave of campers explodes through our gates and hidden away in some of their bags are things that should never be brought to camp. If you have ever wondered why your child cannot bring candy or small furry household pets to camp this is the blog article for you!
Below is a list of things your child shouldn’t bring to camp and the reasons why:

1. Food
What is so bad about a harmless bag of trail mix or a package of Oreos? Well, Peconic Dunes may be home to over 1,250 campers every summer but it is also home to a wide variety of wildlife including squirrels, chipmunks, raccoons and foxes. I once experienced the surprise of coming back to my cabin to find a chipmunk scurrying through my sheets and while he was absolutely adorable, he left a not-so-adorable mess in my bed. If you do not want chipmunks finding their way into your child’s bed or raccoons slipping through the cabin doors at night you should leave the food at home. Campers are fed three nutritious meals a day and are offered healthy snacks throughout the day.

More importantly and far less comical, not only does food in the cabin attract unwanted critters, but many foods can cause life-threatening allergic reactions. We take our camper’s allergies seriously. In order to ensure the safety of all of our campers, we cannot allow campers to bring in food nor can we allow family to send them food.

2. Electronics-We get Unplugged at Peconic Dunes!
“My child always falls asleep with his IPod on, why can’t he have his IPod at camp?”
The purpose of camp is for your child get unplugged from contemporary life and become a member of a caring community where innovation and exploration is fully supportive. Imagine this: Evening programs have just ended and a cabin full of boys is hanging out with their counselors before lights out and all but one of the campers is actively engaged in a discussion with their cabin mates. They don’t know it, but they are developing important interpersonal skills in those moments. One camper has his IPod buds in his ear and even after several attempts from the counselor to bring him into the conversation the child prefers to listen to his IPod. This camper is missing out on a valuable opportunity to bond with his cabin-mates and develop interpersonal skills. We want every camper at Peconic Dunes to be fully engaged in the camp community at every level. It is much easier for campers to achieve this without the distraction of electronics. That’s all very well and good you might say, "But I need my child to have her cell phone so that she can contact me." Your camper is more likely to settle into camp comfortably if they do not have direct contact with you. We find that when campers secretly speak to or text their parents, they become homesick. In an effort to ward off dependence on electronics and homesickness we do not allow campers to bring cell phones to camp. You may of course write letters and send them bunk1 mail, our one-way email service. If you are very concerned you may call the office and our staff will speak to your child’s counselor and get back to you or, if necessary, have the counselor get back to you when they have free time.

3. Water Balloons
When water balloons pop, little plastic pieces in fluorescent colors fly everywhere. Even when campers and staff work diligently to recover every piece, they are bound to miss a few. These plastic pieces are harmful to our environment. Birds, frogs, toads and squirrels will choke on them and die. The pieces will sit in the soil for a million years before decomposing. We like to keep our camp as pristine as possible and show respect to the animals we share camp with.

4. Fireworks
This one is common sense right? Please do not give your camper sparklers or any other explosive items.

5. Expensive Personal Items
Expensive digital camera…grandma’s pearl necklace…a new pair of sneakers…all of these things may get lost at camp. At the end of each summer we donate bags filled with things left behind by campers to Good Will…don’t let your child’s costly new sneakers be one of them!

6. Your Camper’s Favorite Shirt
Again, don’t let your child’s favorite shirt end up in the bag headed for Good Will. Keep it at home where it is safe and your child can wear it for months to come.

7. Small Furry Pets
And finally, as much as you love Cinnamon, do not bring your pet hamster to camp…he will get eaten by a bullfrog…or a red tailed hawk.

April 25, 2012

Science and S’mores

Posted by Sarah Marcus, STEM Director/Educator  

Peconic Dunes 4-H Camp (STEM=Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math)

Picture this: Late morning in the woods, the timid April sun shining coyly through the bare branches of the oak and beech trees…a blond haired boy with the eyes of a hawk balanced at the top of one of those trees, successfully hiding from his opponents in the “Predator Prey” game. A brightly lit cabin on a dark cliff overlooking the crashing Long Island Sound, campers pushing sticks with marshmallows stuck on the ends into the steady fire of the fireplace…one fourteen year old makes his very first s’more with help from anew friend.
A small group of pre-teens, unplugged from video games and computers, setting out with their equipment and notebooks to collect data for a project they designed on their own…they search the terrain for a suitable place for invertebrate collection. These are just three of hundreds of moments that stick in our minds from Peconic Dunes’ first ever, Spring Break Camp.

On April 9, 2012, ten campers arrived at camp unsure of what to expect. Some of them had been to Peconic Dunes in previous summers and were eager for a week of the outdoors. Others arrived expecting a science class and ready for a week of learning. What neither group expected was an intricate combination of the two, where growth could not be obviously extracted from fun.
The campers relished everything; from completing a high ropes course, to playing capture the flag in the woods at twilight, to working together to perform high quality science projects. They didn’t notice that the communication and teamwork skills that they naturally practiced during the high ropes course directly helped them while working in groups to complete their research projects. Nor did they register the fact that the geo-caching treasure hunt was not done just for fun but to teach them how to use a GPS unit, which they needed to use in their projects.

Campers even took turns doing the dishes, practicing community living and service, observing concepts that we all benefitted from over the course of the week. At the end of the week, campers displayed their research projects and all the skills they learned to a panel of scientists, family, and friends. Each camper received a Peconic Dunes blanket and an award for their unique contributions to our community. Spring Break Camp would never have happened without the hard work of many people.
Thank you to Chris for the vision and for the practical plan to make it a happen. Thank you to Melissa for spending hours on the phone trying to distribute our brochures and for the delicious home cooked meals. Thank you to Mike for providing me with a much needed coffee break and the campers with a fun Field Day afternoon. Thank you to Brenna for the emergency trip out to Riverhead to bring me everything I forgot on Friday and for taking such good care of Charlie Brown.

 Thank you to our guest scientists, Hannah Emouna (Ornithologist), Chip Hamilton (Biologist, NYS DEC), Dr. Andrew Greller (Botanist, Queens College) and Faruque Zaman (Entomologist, CCE Suffolk). And most of all a very special thank you goes to Chloe Pocock. Without Chloe’s dedication, good nature and excellent counseling skills Spring Break Camp would not have been such a success. For all of those who did not attend Spring Break Camp, you can check out what we did in this video.

We hope to see all of you next April for our second Spring Break Camp!

March 29, 2012


Think American Idol. What began as 36 different logos has now been narrowed down by the Peconic Dunes judges to THE FINAL 3. And's America's turn to decide which will be the official Peconic Dunes 4-H Camp logo! Voting is open to everyone...campers, parents, staff, alumni, and the general public. This voting booth will close Sunday, April 1 @ midnight.

All the logo designs include a turtle. Turtles have lived in New York longer than most other animals, including humans. Turtles are an emblem of longevity and stability in many cultures around the world, and are often implicated in creation myths regarding the origin of the Earth. We like the turtle because it represents our hope for the future of our community and this place. We hope to ask everyone at Peconic Dunes, "are you a turtle?"

For now, try to ignore the colors and vote ONLY on design. When the voting is over the winning logo will go through a "color analysis". That means the final logo might end up being totally different colors. (Personally, I'm hoping for green, black, and white, but I'm not the color analysis guru). Please share your color ideas in the comment box at the very bottom.

Now...GO VOTE!

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March 26, 2012

Peconic Dunes is a Spider Web

Posted by Sarah Marcus, STEM Director/Educator

Peconic Dunes 4-H Camp (STEM=Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math)

Every spring over 3,000 people flock to Atlantic City, braving the Jersey shore winds and overpriced lattes for a once-a-year experience. Some flock here for a week of gambling and entertainment while others like the PDunes team come for a week of learning and inspiration. We are summer camp professionals, traveling from distances near and far to connect with others who are dedicated to improving the lives of children and to learn new strategies for preparing our camps for a new summer.

This year four of Peconic Dunes’ full time staff members attended the American Camp Association Tristate Camp Conference. Chris Colahan, Brenna McMahon, Sarah Marcus and Melissa Elkins spent two full days immersed in the many ways we can continue to improve Peconic Dunes. The conference offered 180 educational sessions and we spread ourselves out to try to absorb as much information as possible. So, what did we learn about making the Peconic Dunes experience even more amazing than it already is?I learned new engaging activities to do during staff training to keep everyone on their toes. For example, instead of having people write down and then verbalize their goals for the summer I discovered a more concrete activity. I will ask my ECO staff to write down one word that they hope their co-workers will feel about them at the end of the summer and then two specific things they can do to make their co-workers actually feel that way about them.

Melissa and Brenna learned some new techniques for streamlining communication from within the office through the rest of camp. For example, they developed procedures that will assist in better communication between parents and camp. Chris learned about the steps required to turn our campus “nut aware” and how to serve high quality food without upping the cost. For example, we’re putting more information on our website about allergy and “nut awareness” and our menus. You may have thought managing a summer camp involves nothing more than making cabin assignments and creating the daily schedule. In fact, it is more like managing a spider web. In order for the entire web to function successfully as a prey catching apparatus the spider must work continuously to maintain the connection of every single strand to the whole web.

Each connection must be strong in order for the web to be successful. At the ACA Camp Conference we learned new ways to maintain the strength of each connection on the Peconic Dunes web. We are ready. Bring on the summer!

March 10, 2012

2012 Dance Themes

In case you're new to Peconic Dunes 4-H Camp, one of our traditions is the Thursday night dance. For years our counselors came up with themes a day or two before the dance and would spend their time off scavenging thrift stores and costume shops. Then last year someone had the brilliant idea to use the secret staff Facebook page to chose the themes before camp so we could email all the families, and post them on Facebook. The result was that a lot of campers came to camp prepared.

Campers dressed up for the "Letters P & D" dance.

This year we want you to vote on the dance themes! We got the list started. You can add to it at the bottom. The 8 themes with the most votes will be the 2012 dance themes. Feel free to use our Facebook page to campaign for your favorite theme(s). There's no guarantee that your theme will be picked (it's up to the voters). Also, once we have the top 8 themes, we'll probably assign them to each week at random, unless we hear from you. Again, use the Facebook page to share your thoughts. Voting will conclude Sunday, March 18 at midnight. (Be sure to click "Done" to cast your vote).

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March 2, 2012

OMG, I Registered my Kid for the Wrong Camp!….and other mistakes to avoid when registering your child for summer camp.

Posted by Melissa Elkins, Office Manager at Peconic Dunes 4-H Camp

Sending your child to summer camp, especially for the first time, can be a momentous and emotional experience for any parent. Let’s face it. You pack their gear, drop them off and it is very unlikely that you will hear from them until the day you pick them up. With that in mind, the last thing a parent wants to do is make a mistake that could negatively impact your child’s summer camp experience.

Mistake #1 – Waiting!
If you are like many parents you are already mapping out your child’s entire summer
week by week. And believe it or not, the time to plan – and register – for summer camp is now! Countless parents have already completed registering their children for summer programs and camps. Peconic Dunes 4-H Camp, like many other Long Island summer camps, opens registration on January 1and while it may seem difficult to make that final decision – it really needs to be done now! Please don’t wait! If you are thinking, “Summer is months away. Why would I register now?” Camps, whether on Long Island or elsewhere, fill up fast! Many sessions at Peconic Dunes begin to fill to capacity as early as April. Chances are if you wait until late April or May your child could easily end up on an extensive wait-list and may miss out on getting into camp altogether. Our mantra here is: Don’t wait!

Mistake #2 – Using Paper Registration
Peconic Dunes and most other summer camps have easy-to-use on-line registration…use it! The best thing about registering online is that in doing so your child’s place at camp is immediately reserved. Once you have completed the registration you can have 100% peace of mind knowing it is done and your child is in. Online registration also eliminates the possibility of lost, incorrect or delayed delivery. Each year at Peconic Dunes there are parents who incorrectly believe their child is registered for camp only to find out that we never received their application. By the time they realize it, there are no spaces left for their child at camp. Another huge upside of on-line registration is ecology. When registering online you are saving several pieces of paper. If all families register online you’ll be a part of saving the environment approximately 11,250 sheets of paper and envelopes! That’s equivalent to 1&1/2 trees as well as less toxic production waste going into the atmosphere. So, help yourself (and our planet) by registering online!

Mistake #3 – Mom! My BFF was supposed to be at camp with me and wasn’t!!!!!!
Attending camp with a buddy can make the experience even more awesome. However, if you plan to reg
ister your child so that he or she is coming with a friend, be absolutely positive that the other parent is on board and ready to register at the same time. There is nothing worse than the anticipation of going camp with your BFF only to find out your child’s friend ended up on a wait list or their parent changed their mind and forgot to tell you. At Peconic Dunes, we see this happen each summer. Equally as important as registering at the same time as the best friend, is being unequivocally positive that you are registering your child for the correct camp. While this may sound unlikely and it may not occur often, it does happen and believe me…it’s not pretty! Tears will ensue and while the admin team here at Peconic Dunes 4-H Camp will make every effort to correct this kind of unfortunate situation, due to maximum allowable capacities it is not always possible to remedy.

Mistake #4 – Too Many Ca
bin Requests
“Mom, I want to go to camp and be in the same cabin with Amanda, Mykaela, Katie and Emily.” So what’s the big deal? Well, it actually can be a big deal for us here at Peconic Dunes as well as other Lon
g Island summer camps. Our admin team works very hard to place groups of kids together at camp. After all, we are in the business of making kids happy. Unfortunately, we can’t always please everyone. The above mentioned scenario only involves five girls. How hard could that be? Well, if the cabin fits six campers and two counselors, just stop and think how awful it would be for that one child that would have to be put into a cabin and be the odd one out of a group of five 12-year-old girls. Any child in that situation would have a miserable camp experience.

And don’t forget, kids coming to camp with a large group of friends tend not to make new friends. New friends made at camp historically last for years. Seeing that “camp friend” each summer bestows upon children special memories and experiences shared only with their fellow campers creating that magical camper bond that can last a life time. With all of the above in mind, make decisions and don’t wait!

February 21, 2012

Finding Camp Counselors in London

Posted by Christopher Colahan, Managing Director at Peconic Dunes 4-H Camp

Whenever I tell someone what I do, they always reply by asking, “So…what do you do the rest of the year?” It’s a running joke among camp directors. I don’t think that people actually believe that camp pops out in June like an emergency life raft. I think that most people have just never given it much thought.

Camp Director Chris interviewing a prospective counselor

One thing that requires a lot of off-season time is recruiting and hiring staff. Peconic Dunes employs seventy-eight people during the summer. Forty-four of those people are cabin counselors. When I took the reigns of P Dunes six years ago we didn’t have many “homegrown” counselors, people who had grown-up with P Dunes as campers and successfully transitioned into new roles as mentors and instructors. This summer we’ll have seventeen cabin counselors who were formerly campers, young adults who successfully completed our Counselor-In-Training program, and are now ready to be the kind of mentors they looked up to as campers. In fact, this summer two CIT graduates, Jon Stegner and Moriah Santiago (class of 2008 and 2009 respectively) will serve as Unit Leaders in boys and girls camp.

Returning counselors helping at the fair.

L-R Ben Brookes, Adrian Mooney, Chelsea Duffy, Izzy Todd, Chris Colahan, and Paul James

Recruiting brand new people into the P Dunes community is just as exciting as seeing people you met when they were twelve mature into responsible, fun young adults. For the past seven years P Dunes has recruited staff from abroad and for the past four years, I’ve had the privilege to travel to the Camp America Camp Director Recruiting Fair in London, England. Each year about a thousand young men and women line up outside Kensington Town Hall hoping to be selected to work at one of fifty camps recruiting that day.

The Royal Palace

This year P Dunes was very fortunate to have some of its returning English team come out to help interview candidates, ensuring that we recruit the best new members for our 2012 team. Paul, Izzy, Adrian, Chelsea, and Ben offered invaluable help. Between the six of us we met with about a hundred people and hired eight new team members. Some of the people who will be at P Dunes this summer are Scout leaders, schoolteachers, people pursuing degrees in elementary education, mechanical engineering, and social work, and one former English Junior National Kayaking Champion. We are really excited about the new folks and know when you meet them you will be too!

Lastly, I'd like to say "thank you" to our partners and friends at Camp America (CA) for coordinating another successful Recruiting Fair. Each year the folks at CA thoroughly screen tens of thousands of applicants to ensure that only the best suited to work with children are eligible for camp employment. Thanks Kristin, Duffy, Dennis, Jenna, Allyson, and Andrew!

February 10, 2012

Peconic Dunes Saves a Polar Bear

Posted by Sarah Marcus, STEM Director/Educator @ Peconic Dunes 4-H Camp
(STEM=Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math)

When you register your child for camp this summer you will notice a pleasant surprise. Gone are the days of printing out, filling out and faxing back to our office 11 different pieces of paper per camper. Due to technological advances and the critical thinking of our administrative team, parents now only have to fill out and return 2 pieces of paper, the rest can be filled out and submitted online as you register. Not only is this convenient for you (and us) but it also helps save polar bears.

So how exactly does saving 9 pieces of paper per camper contribute to saving polar bears in the Arctic Circle? Well, hold on to your hats people! We are about to do some very cool math! Due to our new and improved system, 9 sheets of paper per camper is saved, which is equivalent to 11, 232 sheets per summer. Saving 11,232 sheets of paper is equivalent to saving 1.5 trees per summer, or 15 trees per decade.

Now, you may be scratching your head and thinking that is not a lot of trees I’m saving at all! What is the point? Hold on there a second! The question really is this: How much is one tree worth? What does one tree provide for the earth, for humanity? Well to determine this, we are going to have to make a little detour into the realm of SCIENCE (yes, my favorite realm in which to explore). Stay with me here.

As heat radiates upwards from the earth it gets trapped in the atmosphere due to high levels of carbon dioxide and other heat trapping gasses like methane. These gasses act as a barrier preventing the heat from being released into space. This phenomenon is called The Greenhouse Effect and is the most direct contributor to Global Climate Change.

Trees, the beautiful perennial woody plant mostly falling into the angiosperm or conifer groups, naturally combat The Greenhouse Effect. They do this by sequestering (sucking in) carbon dioxide from the atmosphere during photosynthesis. Trees (and other plants like moss) convert carbon dioxide to sugars via carbon fixation. Trees use these sugars to perform functions and for building plant structures and then returns oxygen to the atmosphere as a byproduct. Hence, trees act as a carbon sink, removing carbon from the atmosphere and storing it in their trunks, leaves and roots until death.

Ok. So lets get back to our question of what one tree can do for the earth. One mature tree can store 13 lbs. of carbon annually. Which means that Peconic Dunes’ 1.5 trees is storing 19.5 lbs. of carbon annually and 195 lbs. of carbon in a decade. This may still seem small but if every American family saved the same number of sheets of paper as we did (11,232) or simply planted a tree, the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere would be reduced by 1 billion lbs!

When fighting climate change, every act, no matter how small can have a big impact - especially when you convince others to join you. Peconic Dunes invites you to join us in the fight against climate change. Planting trees and saving paper isn’t the only way you can help.

Instead of driving a mile to the post office or bank, leash your dog up and go for a walk. You’ll feel great afterwards and it won’t take as long as you would expect!

· Start composting. It helps return depleted nutrients to the soil.

· Ditch disposable! Instead of using plastic baggies use reusable containers.

· Recycle everything you can; plastics, aluminum, cans, glass and paper.

· Reduce the amount of meat you eat per week. Meat production, from rearing to transportation contributes even more to The Greenhouse Gas Effect than driving does. Consider being a vegetarian just one day a week.

Every little act can make a difference. Together we can help save Bjorn and the home we share with him.

February 3, 2012

Community Service

Posted by Mike Connell, Assistant Director at Peconic Dunes 4-H Camp

What does dish-duty, the buddy system, the Lakota Friendship Circle, and Vespers all have in common? All of these activities promote an understanding of the importance of community. At Peconic Dunes, we foster an environment that helps our community to be aware and ready to serve their home community. A core value we embrace in all parts of camp life is community service. We want to create an understanding that you are a part of a larger community. Understanding an opportunity exists and choosing to become involved in a service project long after you leave us is one of our ultimate goals.

Peconic Dunes Community Service Project, Earth Day 2011

Community Service is donated service or activity that is performed for the benefit of the public or its institutions. Examples of community service can include many types of activities. One example could be volunteering at a community center to help out an elderly neighbor with yard work or shopping. Another could include becoming involved in a community project, like an Earth Day clean up. Or, it could include organizing a blanket drive for homeless shelters through your team, class or club. All of these forms of service have a tremendous value and impact on our home communities in a positive way.

Our younger campers may not feel ready to jump into community service roles. But, you can get involved, too! You could volunteer to help your parents or other family members with smaller projects around the house. Through practice, you will develop the ability to help serve others. And, your parents will really appreciate the extra hand!

Peconic Dunes Community Service Project, Earth Day 2011

Volunteering for community service offers its own reward. The satisfaction of helping others in need and giving back will help each person understand the connections we all share in our world. Service is a positive way to show the adults in your life, such as parents, grandparents, teachers, that you are maturing and ready for more responsibility. The more you reach out to help others, the more opportunity you will have for personal growth.

The best way to get involved with the community is to choose something you are passionate about. Do you really love animals? Then contact your local shelter and volunteer to become a dog walker. Do you like to read? Maybe the library needs volunteers to read to younger children. Are you worried about our environment? Then help organize a park or beach clean up with your class, school, or club. Do you need more suggestions? Take a look at this link that provides you with ideas specifically geared to youth. 366 Ways to Serve the Community 4-H Style.

At Peconic Dunes, we already know our campers are actively involved with their communities. But, now we would like to hear about your individual stories of personal service to the community. Join the discussion on
Peconic Dunes Facebook Page. Let us know what you are doing so we can show the world just how great you are!

January 24, 2012

What are SKAAs?

Posted by Christopher Colahan, Managing Director at Peconic Dunes 4-H Camp

What are SKAAs? Music characterized by a walking bass line accented with rhythms on the upbeat popularized in the US by bands like The Toasters and The Uptones? No! Not ska. SKAAs! SKAA is an acronym for skills, knowledge, attitudes, and awareness.

Every parent wants his or her child to grow up to be happy. That’s why parents try to provide their children with every opportunity that they think will help their child grow. Growth is usually measured in small successes, like learning how to tie one’s shoes, or memorizing the multiplication tables. Parents understand that each successive challenge, resulting in either success or failure, adds another brick to their child’s foundation of skills, knowledge, attitudes, and awareness. SKAAs are achievable, short-term outcomes with research-based connections to long-term outcomes that every parent ultimately wants for his or her grown child: employment, healthy family and social relationships, and community involvement.

A lot of people don’t know this, but Peconic Dunes uses a research-based, evaluation-proven curriculum that our counselors and instructors follow to help each camper achieve about a hundred short-term outcomes each week. The most critical outcomes come from The Search Institute's 40 Developmental Assets for Adolescents. Our program’s short-term outcomes (SKAAs) were chosen because of research showing their connection to long-term outcomes.

Every Sunday, not long after check-in, our counselors sit down with your child to discuss what needs to happen for everyone in the cabin to have an enjoyable week. One item that always comes up is chores. You’d think that given the choice, most kids would opt out of chores for the week. Not so. Kids like a relatively clean place just as much as anybody. The kids then discuss what chores need to be done and how to fairly distribute the responsibilities. (This is also influenced by the fact that cabins are inspected with rewards going to the cleanest cabins and penalties to the very worst.) Some kids turn out to be better at making a bed or sweeping, so they work together, teaching and supporting one another. This silly situation, sometimes motivated by ice cream, other times motivated by a desire to be the anything, yields positive peer relationships, responsibility, and high expectations. Your child gets 3 of the 40 Developmental Assets before they’ve even had breakfast.

This curriculum spans the entire Peconic Dunes program, from every activity, to meals, chores, and the Thursday night dance. At Peconic Dunes we’re creating amazingly fun experiences… memories… that will benefit our campers today and the day they teach their children to fish, sing out loud, and make new friends.

When most people think of camp they probably think about fun, outdoors, friends, and activities. Peconic Dunes is fun because we believe that fun is the best way to learn.

If you're jonesing to get out of the classroom sooner than later, check out our Spring Break Camp. As always, you can continue the conversation on Facebook.

January 14, 2012

The Ultimate Peconic Dunes Guest!

Posted by Sarah Marcus, STEM Director/Educator @ Peconic Dunes 4-H Camp

(STEM = Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math)

Do you think science textbooks are dry and boring? Are you starting to daydream about Peconic Dunes 4-H Camp while your teacher is lecturing about Mendelian genetics?

Well then you should tell your science teacher about the The Ultimate Peconic Dunes Guest!

No…it’s not the Camp Director, Chris Colahan, or the Camp Ranger, Roger Martin or the CIT Director Ryan Frazer….No, the Ultimate Peconic Dunes Guest travels in a tank and likes to eat worms.

Cornelius II and Webster are two frogs that live all year at Peconic Dunes 4-H Camp. You may have seen them in the tank in the Nature Den last summer and if you were lucky enough, you got to witness them devouring thick slimy earthworms. In the summertime, these two adorable amphibians provide entertainment and education for everyone that walks into the Nature Den. But what do these underwater air-breathers do during the winter and spring? Cornelius II and Webster may be curious to watch as they prey upon earthworms and hide under rocks, but they don’t just hang around Peconic Dunes to keep me company during the long cold off-season when you all are in school. They actually have the important job of traveling around to Long Island science classes so that students can get a taste of the outdoors right in their classrooms. That’s right, science class isn’t just about dissecting dead frogs that reek of formaldehyde, it is also about fun! Fun includes experiencing live frogs. After all, dissecting dead frogs can only offer you facts about the placement of their internal organs. Observing live frogs offers insights into their behavior like mate choice, habitat preference and fight or flight instinct.

Observation is the most important part of scientific discovery. Every science study, theory and law started with observation. When Cornelius II and Webster come to your school, you may notice something unusual about them and you may wonder how those unusual characteristics arose. This thought process is what makes science so cool. So, if you’re getting bored of memorizing your science textbook and can’t seem to figure out how the difference between animal cells and plant cells relate to your daily life, consider having Cornelius II and Webster make a guest appearance at your school. They’ll open your eyes to what science is really all about.

Peconic Dunes, this is your mission: All 5,000 of you, tell your science teachers about Peconic Dunes…tell them about our school programs…tell them about Cornelius II and Webster!

We hope to see you in your classrooms. If you're jonesing to get out of the classroom, check out our Spring Break Camp. In the meantime, check us out on Facebook.