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Department Series: All about Activity Departments at Camp Alleghany

By Camp America on 24/11/2015

Hi, Taylor Fellows here, your Camp Alleghany Program Director. I’m so excited to write my first blog, starting with a series on the Departments at Camp Alleghany...

Hi, Taylor Fellows here, your Camp Alleghany Program Director. I’m so excited to write my first blog, starting with a series on the Departments at Camp Alleghany.

You can follow along with this series as I write it. Or, if you’re coming to this page after the series is done, you can click this link to read all of the blog posts from the Camp Departments Series.

What are the Camp Departments? They are the areas that our campers choose from in deciding on their four activity classes during Term Camp.

The Departments are:

  • Alleghany Singers
  • Archery
  • Arts & Crafts
  • Canoe
  • Dance
  • Drama
  • Rifle
  • Ropes
  • Sports & Fitness
  • Swimming
  • Tennis
  • Wild World

How and what to choose?

At the beginning of each term, our fun spirited Counseling Staff does skits on the first night of camp to show the campers what the different Departments are like.

In funny performances, the counselors show the campers a day in the life of that activity. Or they might also share new things in a Department for that year, or maybe focus on challenges or goals that campers can find in these activities.

That is a great night that everyone enjoys! And it breaks the ice on that first night at camp through laughter!

This helps campers get a sense of what’s on offer, and helps them to select four of the activities that they want to do during their three week Term at camp.

Activity Departments offer a personal touch

By focusing on four classes, campers have the opportunity to learn new skills and improve existing skills, meet real goals, and succeed in passing progress levels.

By working in smaller groups directly with counselors who are themselves specializing in a Department or two for the summer, a camper gets expert and personal guidance during the Term.

And last summer we continued a thing we called Try Something New, so that campers could pick two new Departments that they hadn’t taken and try them out one morning during Term Camp.

In addition to their four classes, campers have two periods of unstructured time daily to attend Free Swim, play tennis, write letters home, shower, relax, or simply play on tent row.

Counselors supervise all activities, both structured and unstructured.

Department structure

Our counselors are often chosen because they bring a particular skill set to camp, or because they have worked to build a skill over several years of being a counselor.

For this reason, each Department has a Department Head and sometimes an Assistant Department Head. These Counseling Staff leaders help train fellow counselors on the specifics of that Department, and the Head reports to me, supervising performance reviews of her Department, providing ongoing coaching and troubleshooting to her Department staff, and fielding creative ideas for options within a Department.

I meet weekly with all the Department Heads as a group, in a formal meeting setting, and I visit the Departments daily for support as needed. During those meetings we discuss any special events coming up that would happen in any particular Department, such as Blue/Gray competitions in Tennis, Rifle, Archery, Sports & Fitness, and our Swim and Canoe Meets. The Heads also turn in a weekly lesson plan to me on Sundays, which include backup and rainy day plans. I review them and hand them back to the Department Heads.

Mini Camp and the Departments

In Mini Camp, the Mini Campers also choose four activities to do during their week at camp. We do this this so that Mini Campers will see exactly what the rhythms and life of camp is like, the only difference being that in Term Camp the campers will do this for three weeks instead of one.

Follow the series

Over the next couple of months I will be writing about all of the different Departments at camp in more detail so that campers and parents who are getting ready for camp can spend a little time hearing about what our Departments are like, what each activity is like, and what a camper can expect during her Term(s) at camp.

Stay tuned!

Taylor Fellows, Program Director, Camp Alleghany for Girls

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