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!

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