Junior Camp Discussion
One Week or Two Weeks?
September 29, 2014
The following article was submitted by Jim Coehoorn (Member – WCYC Board of Directors, and long-time Camp Director for both Middle and Intermediate Camp), and Lance Hawley (Junior Camp Director, 2013 & 2014. Please, consider the substance of the article, and offer your responses in the Comments section below.
The Board is considering changing Junior Camp to a one-week session and seeks your input. WCYC has a long tradition of two-week youth camp sessions and the board continues to value having campers for two weeks at a time. This would only be a change for the youngest session, currently ages 9 to 11. There are few reasons to consider this change.
First, there are increasing numbers of new campers who only sign up for one week of Junior. For most of these parents, the idea of sending their nine or ten year-old child off to an unfamiliar camp for two weeks is unthinkable. There are other parents who might be willing to send their child to a one week camp, but find the idea of attending one week of a two-week camp unattractive, since the camper misses out on either the introduction or the conclusion to the session. I have heard the unease and reservations about the length of our session from parents in my home community and from talking with parents in the registration line. These considerations are important to keep in mind for the future of Junior camp. Some feel that advertising Junior as a one-week camp would increase our numbers. Recruiting new campers and families who are currently unfamiliar with WCYC is essential to our future.
Second, in my view, as the director of Junior Camp for the past two years, the Junior session largely accomplishes its purposes in the first week. These purposes include introducing new campers to the wonderful traditions of WCYC, building new friendships, and especially teaching campers about Jesus, which primarily happens through counselors demonstrating God’s love in everyday activities. Most campers and staff members are worn out by the end of the first week, so the benefits of camp decrease in the second week. If we plan on a one-week session, we can avoid spreading our staff thin and do a better job of creating a dynamic session that will serve as an excellent introduction to WCYC.
When I survey families about changing Junior to one week, I get mixed responses. Those who grew up attending WCYC generally do not want the two-week schedule to change because they have experienced the blessing of the second week of camp. If campers love camp, they want more of it, especially as they get older. There is also a concern that campers will not progress from one week at Junior to attending two weeks of other sessions. Others who are new to camp or are unfamiliar with camp are generally in favor of a one-week session. The records show that most campers who come for one week choose to come back the next year for two. The issue is to get campers to come in the first place.
The board is considering this issue and various proposals for working out the logistics of a one week Junior. One idea is to allow ten and eleven year olds to attend Middle camp (currently ages 11-13) if they would like a two week session. If this was the case, the only year that campers would be restricted to one week of camp is when they are nine. Another idea is to have the Junior session be followed by Quest, so that parents of Junior campers can come and stay for the second week as full participants in our family camp. These options would allow flexibility and the opportunity to encourage campers to come back for two weeks next year.
Please, take a moment to share your thoughts with the Board of Directors. We will prayerfully consider all opinions.