Summer Camp for Kids- Now More Than Ever- By Andy Pritikin

Lower camp on Wibit with life vests

We hear it all the time- “What’s with these young people? They can’t focus, can’t communicate, they’re entitled, self-centered, constantly staring at their screens!” Well folks, this is the generation we have fostered. Technology snuck up on us, we gave them all participation trophies, and now we have to work alongside of them for the rest of our lives. But, today’s parents are generally better at understanding what is lacking in their children’s development and are prioritizing differently for the children we are raising now.

For the past 150 years, our educational system has focused on “the 3 R’s”, hard skills, memorizing dates, formulas and vocab words, while in the 21st Century, the world suddenly changed. All of a sudden, millions of jobs have become antiquated and disappeared. To paraphrase the Global Markets Institute, as automation became cost-effective, the bulk of the workforce has shifted from ‘doing’ the work (HARD SKILLS) to organizing, coordinating and supervising the increasingly complex resources behind it (SOFT SKILLS). While there are currently an estimated 7.4 million unemployed workers, there are 5.6 million job openings. That’s a huge SKILLS gap, and according to employers, it’s not the hard skills that’s the problem, it’s the lack of soft skills of the entering workforce.

According to the Partnership for 21st Century Learning (, which is comprised of Fortune 500 business leaders and progressive educators, the top skills sought by today’s employers are:

  1. Oral Communication (great texters and tweeters, but not great face-to-face)
  2. Teamwork & Collaboration (great on their own, not so much when working with others)
  3. Professionalism & Work Ethic (personal satisfaction reigns supreme- YOLO!)
  4. Written Communication (most of today’s teachers have literally given up)
  5. Critical Thinking & Problem Solving (Parents micro-manage their children to the point in which they can’t do things for themselves)

Add to this picture that 30% of students entering 4-year college programs DROP OUT after their first year, and only 56% graduate within SIX years. Why is this? Besides financial burdens, see the big five p21 skills above that our kids are lacking, especially #5 when Mommy or Daddy aren’t around to fix their problems!

So where can we help young people find these skills? Schools are focused on standardized tests, Families run their children from obligation to obligation, plus homework, and the allure of xBox, YouTube, Instagram and the DVR. Where can children experience a “Step Back in Time” to a more care-free environment like we experienced as kids, unencumbered by technology, where people interact by actually speaking to one another, face to face, outside amongst nature, in a supportive environment that fosters the development of skills that employers are looking for in the 21st Century, away from their over-loving and ever-hovering parents? At SUMMER CAMP!

Summer Camps have existed for over 100 years, but have become more important for the development of children than EVER before. Children work together in groups, led by energized staff who lead by example, forced to communicate and compromise with one another, conquering their fears, pushing beyond perceived limits, making and keeping friendships, and learning an abundance of new skills (hard and soft).

The American Camp Association estimates that 11 million children attend Summer Camp annually, which leaves another 30 million who do not. Why is this? What holds back the uninitiated parent from enrolling their children to Camp? After growing a successful program in an area with no prior culture of Camp, I present to you my top three excuses:

  1. “Too much money.” Of course, this is a perceived belief, as there are camps in all price ranges, and if the camp experience was valued as much as “camp people” attest (priceless), these families could stay at a smaller hotel at Disney, or make other choices to give their children a summer camp experience. Many adults say that they learned more about life at Camp than they did at College, at a fraction of the price!
  2. “I just want my kids to relax during the summer.” As they should, and boredom (without screens) is an important component of growth. After a couple of days immersed in a quality Camp program though, children find it very relaxing and enjoyable. They can play video games, stare at their phones and sleep late in the time they will still have at home.
  3. “I want to spend time with my children.” That’s wonderful, but will you be providing meaningful opportunities that teach your children important character and life skills this summer, or just entertaining them? Camp can do both!

At Summer Camp, children take advantage of the unique “out of school learning environment” that is able to teach the vital life skills that traditional schools can not- Skills that allow children to grow into happy, successful, contributing members of society. In a world today that often seems to de-value virtues like kindness and acceptance, Camps create a culture that makes it cool to be kind. As parents, we do our best to provide a strong foundation for our children in our homes, like nutrient-rich soil for our little seedlings. Summer Camp provides an environment for our little flowers to flourish and bloom, outside in the fresh air and sunshine of the summer!


Andy Pritikin - Founder - Everwood Day CampAndy Pritikin is the owner/director of Liberty Lake Day Camp in Bordentown, NJ, founding partner of Everwood Day Camp in Sharon, MA, and President of the American Camp Association NY/NJ.



An Authentic New England Summer Day Camp

Campers running during special event

What sets Everwood apart from the other day camps in the greater Boston and Providence areas?

5-star points copyHere at Everwood, we are dedicated year-round to the summer camp experience, and are proud of our program and our exclusive summer camp facility. We not only have the look and feel of a traditional overnight camp (nature and the great outdoors are an integral, part of who and what we are today) but we have all the spirit, tradition, and community that overnight camps have as well.

Many unique features of our property allow us to remain the kind of Camp that we went to as kids, and that you may remember going to (or wanting to go to) yourself.   We are fortunate enough to have lakefront property situated on Lake Massapoag, a glistening 353 acre, natural freshwater lake that is constantly fed by the springs and environment around us. We have not one, but two sparkling waterfronts with beautiful sandy beaches.

IMG_6425The lake also provides us with the opportunity to host a multitude of water activities right here at home. We do not have to transport our campers anywhere to enjoy activities such as the Wibit, fishing, kayaking, sailing, boating, tubing, and racing each other in our 16 person war canoes. Everything is available to our campers just by walking down to the lakefront, where they can spend more time enjoying the natural waterfront and the opportunities it provides.

Our entire Camp, not just the waterfront, focuses on activities where campers get to IMG_5821spend 90% of their day outside, just the way a true summer camp experience should be. We have over 50 acres of lush woods and open fields that allow for many outdoor activities; an extensive variety of athletic activities (including tennis, street hockey, and lacrosse,) archery, ropes courses, gaga, and many wooded trails for hiking and
nature programs. We even have an outdoor cooking area designed just for our campers during elective periods and a campfire area for songs and s’mores. Our Campers and staff members eat lunch outside, in groupings of picnic tables set up under our shady 100 ft. pine trees.

IMG_0538That being said, with over 40 buildings on our property (including our 8000 square foot main lodge) we have plenty of space tokeep the program moving and our campers busy even on rainy days when not all of our outside activities can take place. Even our activities and electives that need to be inside are kept in buildings that blend in with the natural environment. For example, our large arts and crafts center is situated on our main waterfront, with plenty of open windows with fantastic view of the lake.

Our groups all have separate bunks, where they have a safe and private area to change, cubbies to store their belongings in, and IMG_6217are able get a few shady minutes out of the sun.  Each of our bunks are designed to give campers a REAL Camp experience, and eliminates the pressures and formalities of locker rooms or classrooms.

Everwood’s unique and authentic experience does not stop with just the look and feel of the property, it is also reflected in our Week1076.2day-to-day practices and how we run our summer sessions as a whole.  We have a clear value set that we communicate to our campers on a daily basis throughout each and every one of our activities.  The Everwood 5-Star points: Independence, Integrity, Friendship, Teamwork, and Inspiration, guides our campers all summer long to ensure growth in skills they’ll use to contribute to the world beyond the summer.  Our consecutive three week minimum for our campers, and very limited “start weeks” means that we have a stable, consistent population that has the time to develop lasting, meaningful relationships. We are confident that our counselors will know your child better than at any other day camp, and that his/her peer relationships will be stronger too!  Also, on a daily level, our dynamic Spirit Calendar means that we have a different theme or special event every day of the summer. These are unique, Camp-specific activities that cannot be experienced anywhere other than Camp.

Everwood Camp SpiritAt Everwood Day Camp, our campers experience all the fun, adventure, and friendship of camp life, plus the support of a community that’s committed to providing skills for life.  This is the way summer is supposed to be!

The Family Dinner

Boy eating cereal at home

As a first time parent, I’m often astounded by how fast the hours of the day go. No matter how hard I try, between work, trips to day care, chores, food shopping, preparing meals and most importantly spending time with the kids (wait, don’t forget sleep and shower!), there just never seems to be enough time during the day to get everything done in the quality way I want to. I know, I know… I’ve got to let some of it go, and I certainly have (you should see my closets), but I continue to be troubled by one particular parenting challenge. How do I make sure that we connect as a family every day?

Why Camp Will Help Your Kids Get a Great Job

Campers hugging during special event

In this piece, Friedman interviews Laszlo Bock, the senior vice president of people operations for Google — the guy in charge of hiring for one of the world’s most successful companies, and a model for companies in the 21st century.

Bock states that Google has determined that “G.P.A.’s and test scores are worthless as a criteria for hiring… We found that they don’t predict anything.” He also noted that the “proportion of people without any college education at Google has increased over time” — now as high as 14 percent on some teams. This is an interesting proposition, given that I am currently looking at colleges for my daughter, most of which retail at well over $50,000 per year…Bock tells us that for ALL POSITIONS AT GOOGLE, they look for five “hiring attributes” (character traits) which have nothing to do with GPA, SAT scores, or college alma mater: “the No. 1 thing we look for is general cognitive ability, and it’s not I.Q. It’s learning ability. It’s the ability to process on the fly. It’s the ability to pull together disparate bits of information.” Thinking quick on your feet, being able to take various pieces of knowledge and put it into a tangible plan. This is stuff that campers and staff learn through experience at summer camp each and every day- especially at Everwood, with our dynamic camp program full of group activities and electives.

Teaching the Skills that Can’t Be Measured But Are Immeasurably Important!

Girl on Wibit during swim activity

At Everwood Day Camp and our resident Camp, Camps Kenwood & Evergreen we specialize in teaching the skills that will be most important for kids to master in the 21st Century, yet are the most difficult to assess. Education thought leader Will Richardson wrote an interesting piece on “The Immeasurable”, and the challenges associated with teaching them in a formal school setting. At some point, I hope that Richardson comes to understand that many of these skills can be mastered during out of school time through experiences like Camp. Recently I was reading through Richardson’s blog, and came across this gem, in which I substituted the word “CAMPS” for “schools” to fit my thinking:

“We have a case to make, I think, for valuing the immeasurable over that which can be easily measured, and that the powerful role that CAMPS can play now is not delivering that narrow curriculum (which is now in a million places) but in developing the skills and dispositions or the “opportunity to participate in civic and deliberative discussions” which, at the end of the day, is kinda hard to machine score. It’s not an easy case to make in this world of competition and ranking and sorting. But it is where our real value is now. How we articulate that value and move it into the mainstream thinking is where our collective laser focus needs to be.”

Allergy Friendly Day Camp: Our commitment to Our Community

Four male campers smiling

Since it’s opening, Everwood Day Camp has been an allergy friendly campus, accommodating the needs of our campers with peanut and tree-nut allergies, as well as gluten and dairy allergies. A prime focus of our mission is the health and safety of the campers and counselors in our care. Therefore the decision to be allergy friendly was a simple one. We are a community where we take care of each other and being allergy friendly is one way that we do that.

By providing peanut and tree nut free snacks, and gluten and dairy alternatives everywhere in campus that food is served (including our cooking program), all of our children are able to fully participate in our camp program. Our families have all agreed to forgo lunch items that contain peanuts and tree nuts, and our counselors are diligent about double checking lunches. Our two registered nurses are incredible resources and work with all our families of children with allergies and train our staff to ensure a safe and healthy environment for all our campers.