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.