ABC news recently ran a story about camps being "recession-proof." In the story, it talks about parents making sacrifices to ensure their children have an opportunity to attend camp. These parents clearly understand the profound and positive impact a camping experience can have on the development of their children.
The story did make me contemplate how the environment at Camp Anokijig is different from what children normally experience and even how Camp Anokijig is different from other camps. The absence of technology is one big difference. Kids at Anokijig don't text, twitter, e-mail or phone their friends, they talk to them. If they can't find their friend, they can't page them or google them, but they can walk around and look for them.
Kids at Anokijig don't play video games by themselves, they play real games with other real people. They don't watch TV either, although they may check out a few skits by a campfire.
Kids at Anokijig also don't play soccer, baseball, tennis, golf or any number of other "stick and ball" sports, that they can play at home. They ride horses, sail boats, paddle canoes, catch fish, shoot pellet guns and arrows, make arts & crafts and do a lot of other things they don't do at home. Those activities might also differeniate us from many other camps.
Anokijig doesn't have manicured lawns, paved roads, concrete playgrounds, air-conditioned cabins with Internet access or chlorinated swimming pools and they're not on our "wish list" either, although some paved roads in spots might be nice. Whenever we're not at Anokijig, we're surrounded by all that stuff and we enjoy getting away from it. We have grassy meadows and lush forests, gravel roads and dirt trails, scatterball games in the parade grounds, tents and cabins that allow you to enjoy your natural surroundings, not isolate you from them. We have a beautiful lake and island, that is big enough for kids to explore and feel like they've gone on an adventure, but not so big that we have to limit our camper's access to it, for fear of jetskis buzzing our paddleboaters.
There are a lot of great camps that offer plenty of modern faciliies and ammenities and as far as we're concerned, they can keep 'em (and their $1,000+/week pricetags). We would rather offer our campers experiences and activities that they probably won't get anywhere else. Many of our campers enjoy Anokijig, because they recognize it as a real vacation from schedules that are jam-packed with after-school activities and sports.
Finally, we think our staff makes Anokijig different. We know every camp will claim their staff is "the best" and we're no exception. Our nine full-time staff members give their heart and soul to Anokijig every day and we're not just talking about our nine weeks of summer camp. Anokijig doesn't have a winter address or a business office in another city. We never close and we always have staff on premises. Several of our staff members even live on-site and have been there for more than 25 years. They know Anokijig like the back of their hand and when someone or something is not where it's supposed to be. We're glad they're there, keeping the Anokijig spirit alive!