Tuesday, April 19, 2011

CFA FAQ Files: What's the deal with Clubs?

Hello, blog friends!

In searching for new topics to blog about, we snagged an idea from www.campmarketingnews.com that suggested taking a look at some of the most frequently asked questions from parents, and delving deeper into those subjects to thoroughly provide an answer and explain why CFA functions the way it does.

One question we all field quite often deals with the the various Clubs at summer camp. Are Clubs different than activities? Can campers do both? If a camper isn't signed up for a particular club, like River Rats or Saddle Club, will they not get a chance to swim or canoe or ride a horse?

FAQ— What's the deal with Clubs at CFA?

Each traditional camper (not Rookie Campers, not LITs or CITs) has the opportunity to choose a Club to attend for their week of camp. Clubs happen in the morning, after breakfast, generally before the most intense heat of the day. They last approximately an hour and a half, and are lead by the same two to three counselors, who normally have an interest or passion relating to the subject matter of the Club. Campers attend the same club every single morning for a week. If a camper comes for multiple weeks, she or he may pick a different club for each week.

There are eight Clubs for Summer 2011:
  1. Bull's Eye Club, focusing on the target sports of archery and BB guns.
  2. Carabiner Club, featuring ropes safety, belaying, and our high ropes challenge course.
  3. Crafter's Club, where campers spend time creating artwork and crafts. Pottery is a favorite.
  4. Guadalupe River Rats Club, putting campers in the river via the rope swing, canoeing and kayaking, and water slide.
  5. O.W.L.S., or Outdoor Wellness and Living Skills, for the hiker, camper, outdoor chef, and survivalist-minded camper.
  6. Pan-Handlers, our newest club in 2011, teaching cooking skills that run from the very basics to pasta and sushi making.
  7. Saddle Club, full of daily riding and horsemanship skills, for the aspiring cowboy, cowgirl, or equestrian.
  8. Varsity Club, specially created for the athlete or camper who wants to learn and play a wide variety of sports.

Varsity Sports campers learn the art and skill of GaGa, a sport originating in Isarel.

How much prior experience does a camper need to succeed?

Each of these Clubs is designed to enforce our five Core Values— Caring, Honesty, Respect, Responsibility, and Faith. With that in mind, Clubs serve a wide variety of experience levels: not everyone who signs up for Saddle Club has taken professional riding lessons, for example— some have never really ridden a horse before in their life! Our staff are trained and able to handle all levels of competency and the only criteria for selecting a Club is that the camper should have an interest in learning more about the featured activities. Fun is part of the package, and everything we do at YMCA Camp Flaming Arrow follows strict safety guidelines enforced by both the American Camp Association and the YMCA.

The Pan-Handlers Club will give campers a taste of Chef Allison's skills and more exciting recipes.

My camper isn't signed up for (as an example) Bull's Eye Club— will they not get to do archery?

All traditional campers, teens and younger folks (called "Pioneers") alike, have the opportunity to try other camp activities during the rest of their day at camp. Pioneers rotate with their cabin every day and experience all of the basic camp activities during their week-long stay. Teens are now divided into smaller "Quest Groups," a group of boys and girls who meet daily to decide what activity to do as a unit and spend the week working together to create friendships and community spirit. So yes, each camper has a chance to try everything else at camp. Their Club is simply their main activity focus, and where they are likely to develop the most practical skills.

Carabiner Club challenges campers to experience the thrill of high ropes, instilling faith in themselves.

My child is an experienced horseback rider. Is it worth their time to be involved in the Saddle Club?

In the case of Saddle Club, we make it a policy to staff highly skilled wranglers who not only know horsemanship, but have specialized skills they are qualified to teach. For example, this summer, our Head Wrangler can teach basic roping skills and also competes in Competitive Trail Rides— she is expanding our obstacle course and games repertoire. The other full time Wrangler has been jumping for years, and we now have the equipment to teach introductory jumping to our advanced Saddle Club students. Since last year, we have worked to make an Advanced Class available to Saddle Club participants at least two days out of the week, if there is enough interest.

One advanced Saddle Club camper takes his skills to the next level— instructing!

In closing..

Clubs give CFA campers a chance to delve into a subject that they may love with a passion or just be curious about. In everything we do here at YMCA Camp Flaming Arrow, the five Core Values and our mission stand out above all else. Keeping those things and safety (always of utmost importance) close to the hearts and minds of the counselors and leadership staff who run the Club program creates an opportunity for practice, growth, and learning that is unique to summer camp and to CFA.

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