Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Anokijig International

When we think about all the great opportunities Camp Anokijig provides, we normally don't think of it as an environment for children to be immersed in the English language. After all, the vast majority of our campers are from Wisconsin and Illinois.

Even though most of our campers are local, we do host campers from dozens of different states. In fact, last year, Camp Anokijig hosted campers from 23 different states. We know all of these campers keep coming back to Anokijig because of their previous positive experiences here. But we also know some of their parents are also saving money, by flying their children to Wisconsin and sending them to Anokijig, instead of paying for a $1,000+/week camp near their home.

In addition to all of those campers, we routinely host campers from several foreign countries. Last year, children from Croatia, France, Germany, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Singapore and Spain spent time at Camp Anokijig. Many of these children come to Camp Anokijig to work on their English and Anokijig just happens to be the perfect environment for a child to immerse themselves in the English language.

In 2007, we also hosted campers from seven foreign countries, including 29 campers from South Korea, who all came to the States specifically to work on their grasp of the English language. Time spent at Camp Anokijig is a powerful and enriching experience for these campers, but it also has a similar impact on the kids who live within a few hours of Anokijig.

Monday, July 27, 2009

When we posted a video from our Fishing Expedition Program a few weeks back, we thought some folks might suspect the fish caught in that video was the exception and not the rule. We decided to post a second video (above), to put to rest any question as to whether campers in our Fishing Expedition Programs do reel in the big ones.

We could continue posting such videos, which each subsequent trip (and we might), but nothing quite speaks for the success of this program as testimonials from our own campers. Shortly after we posted this second video, a camper posted a comment, claiming he caught a 23-lb. salmon on the trip last week.

If your child enjoys fishing, they would absolutely love our fishing programs. Unfortunately, our 2009 Fishing Expedition Programs are finished for the season. However, we do still have space in our Sylvania Backcountry Canoe Fishing Trip during Week 9.

Campers on this trip will go after smallmouth bass and northern pike in the Sylvania Wilderness Area, as well as fishing in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. We will provide the canoes, gear and all the equipment needed, Mother Nature will provide the fish. If your child is entering 7th grade this fall and would like to experience some amazing fishing, you can register here-

If your child is already signed up to come to Camp Anokijig during week 9 and would like to go on the Sylvania Backcountry Canoe Fishing Trip, just call the camp office at 1-800-741-6931 to reserve a spot.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Thank You Kolar Arms!

Many of you will remember our previous blog post, which talked about Camp Anokijig's new pellet gun range, which was partially-funded by the NRA Foundation. Having the new pellet gun range has truly been a blessing, as it is in a much safer (and environmentally-safer) and convenient location for our campers.

With the pellet gun range now very closely situated to Arts & Crafts, Archery, Digital Photography, and Woodworking, many more campers are taking advantage of this tremendous program. Some camps charge their campers fees for using their rifle ranges, but we prefer to keep camper costs to a minimum. You can imagine the results, when you tell an 11-year old that they are allowed to shoot pellet guns for a seemingly unlimited amount of time.

Since Camp Anokijig started our Pellet Gun program, we have made numerous attempts to purchase our .177 flat-nose pellets in bulk, to save money. Unfortunately, these previous attempts were not successful and with the increasing popularity of this program, we were struggling simply to find enough pellets at local retailers.

That's where employees from Kolar Arms came into the picture. When they heard of our plight, Kolar Arms was not only able to find a bulk quantity of pellets for us (about 100,000), they purchased and donated the pellets directly to Camp Anokijig. Thank you Kolar Arms!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Summer is Slipping Away!

It's hard to believe, but the Summer of 2009 is rapidly disappearing. Camp Anokijig is currently in the midst of our sixth week out of nine and space for the rest of the summer is becoming scarce.

Week 7 has about a dozen spots left, so if your son or daughter is at Anokijig now and calls home to ask to stay through next week, start thinking now about whether you'd like them to stay next week, as those remaining spots might disappear quickly.

Week 8 is completely sold out, so if your son or daughter does not sign up for Week 7, their only remaining option is Week 9.

If your child is already coming to Anokijig and is considering one of our specialty programs, like Rock Climbing or Caving, there is still space available in those programs. However, our Ranch Program is approaching capacity in some remaining weeks, so if they would like to spend more time around our horses than a horse ride or two, call the Camp Office today, to sign them up for Ranch Camp at 1-800-741-6931.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Camp Anokijig Score a Perfect 100 on ACA Inspection!

The American Camp Association (ACA) is a community of camp professionals who, for nearly 100 years, have joined together to share their collective knowledge and experience to ensure the quality of camp programs. Part of this quality assurance is an accreditation program, which requires that accredited camps meet more than 300 standards for health, safety and program quality. This is a very rigorous and thorough process that each accredited camp must go through every three years.

While accredited camps must score at least an "80" on their inspections, we're happy to report that Camp Anokijig score a perfect "100" on our 2009 inspection. This is important news for parents, because the ACA inspection covers some very important policies, including those regarding staff screening and criminal background checks for all staff who will have responsibility for or access to campers.

The ACA also checks for written documentation that every lifeguard has demonstrated skill in rescue and emergency procedures specific to the aquatic area and activities guarded. These are all mandatory standards that have been missed by dozens of camps every year. In fact, the most commonly-missed standard in the past two years is the one requiring all resident campers and seasonal staff members to have a doctor-signed health exam within the last 24 months. 146 camps missed this standard in 2008 and 109 missed it in 2007.

This is a particularly important standard, given the current concerns surrounding the H1N1 virus and one that Camp Anokijig takes very seriously. While some summer camps have elected to cancel sessions in 2009 as a precautionary measure, we would like to remind parents that those camps primarly cater to children who already have compromised immune systems. Camp Anokijig's continued efforts to adhere to strict ACA health and safety standards helps us ensure the safest and most enjoyable experience for all of our campers.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

New Refrigerators! How Cool Is That?!?

The Hussmann Refrigerator at Western Lodge is original equipment to this building and has been here since the lodge was dedicated in back in 1949. While we've had to replace some parts on it over the years, it's served us very well.

Unfortunately, our Hussmann has gotten so old, that some replacement parts (like gaskets) were getting very hard to find. We're also guessing refrigerators built after the creation of NASA are probably more efficient than our World War II-era model.

This is where Harry Schildkraut came into the picture. Mr. Schildkraut and his company, s2o Consultants, have been instrumental in upgrading many of the appliances in Western Lodge's kitchen. When he learned of our refrigerator situation, he began talking to his connections in the food service industry, to see if anyone might be able to help us upgrade our refrigerator.

Before too long, Mitch Cohen of Victory Refrigeration heard of our situation and offered two brand-new units-

Not only are these units larger, but they feature more shelf space and are undoubtedly less expensive to operate than the unit they replace. Every little bit makes a difference, especially when our annual electric bill is typically somewhere north of $17,000! Thank you Mitch Cohen, Victory Refrigeration, Harry Schildkraut and s2o Consultants!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Camp Anokijig's Fishing Expedition Program

Someone once said, "The charm of fishing is that it is the pursuit of that which is elusive but attainable, a perpetual series of occasions for hope." As you can see from this video, Camp Anokijig's Fishing Expedition Program tends to make his pursuit more attainable than most of us are accustomed to experiencing.

When campers come to Anokijig to fish, we make sure they not only catch some fish and have a good time, but learn a little bit about fishing and themselves. Camp Anokijig's Fishing Expedition Program covers everything from cane poles with bobbers to fly reels and salmon fishing on Lake Michigan.

We offer Fishing Expedition as a specialty program during several of our summer camp weeks, for just an additional $80 over their resident camping fees. Most Lake Michigan charter boats won't even start their engines for that price, but campers in our Expedition Fishing Program will have all their bait, boats and equipment supplied, including a chartered fishing excursion on Lake Michigan (weather permitting).

While many of the campers in this program have some previous fishing experience, almost everyone learns something new or experiences fishing in a way they never had before. This program is also designed to accomodate the first-time angler, so if your son or daughter would like to give fishing a try, this might be the perfect introduction for them.

We have already successfully completed three weeks of Fishing Expedition and the campers in this program have really enjoyed themselves. Next week is our final Fishing Expedition program for 2009, so if your child is signed up for Resident Camp and would like to experience an exciting week of fishing, give us a call at 1-800-741-6931 today!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Bus-Free Horse Rides

Does this bus look like a horse? We don't think so either. Yet, when some kids go to summer camp, they spend as much time riding on buses as they do horses. Camp Anokijig is one of those rare camps, which actually has a horse program located entirely on-site. That means when our campers are offered a horse ride, that's exactly what they get.

Camp Anokijig's Ranch program has a herd of more than 50 horses, which means there are always plenty of opportunities for our campers to go on a ride if they'd like to do so. Camp Anokijig offers several horse rides each day, which are open to all campers and riders of all skill levels.

When we say horse ride, we should explain exactly what that entails, because not all horse rides are the same. Camp Anokijig sits on nearly 400 acres of land in the Kettle Moraine area of Wisconsin. This allows us to offer more than 20 miles of private riding trails, through forest land, rolling hills, meadows and lakeshore areas along Little Elkhart Lake.

We believe there is something about the outside of a horse that is great for the inside of child. We believe our campers deserve the best experience we can offer them around our horses and we don't believe that translates into a glorified version of a fairground pony ride. Campers on Anokijig horse rides get out on our extensive private trail system and go somewhere. Camp Anokijig's trail system is expansive enough, that even a 30-45 minute horse ride can feel like an adventure into a wilderness area.

Perhaps the best part of Camp Anokijig's horse program is our price. Campers entering into 7th grade or older can spend an entire week in Camp Anokijig's Ranch Program for just $57 over the price of our Resident Camp. Campers entering into 4-6th grades can spend an entire week in our Circle A Rider program for the same price.

Even if a child doesn't want to spend the entire week in Ranch Camp or Circle A Riders, children in Camp Anokijig's Resident camp program can still ride the same horses on the same trails for about $10-$12 per ride.

Camp Anokijig's Ranch Program is such a tremendous value, because we do everything in-house. We don't spend extra money on transportation costs to shuttle our campers to and from an outside facility. We don't pay fees to outside contractors. We don't spend extra money buying all of our feed, because we grow most of it ourselves. We don't spend extra money leasing out pasture and farmland, because we have our own.

That all translates into an incredibly comprehensive horse experience at a fraction of the cost found elsewhere. Come see for yourself!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Beware of Hidden Costs at Summer Camps!

Even though we're in the midst of the summer camping season, we realize parents are still looking for the best camping opportunities for their children. Some are still planning for this year, while others may be planning already for 2010.

If we could give one piece of advice to cost-conscious parents about selecting a summer camp, it would be to make sure they understand all the expenses involved in sending their child off to camp. The fee to send a child to camp can literally, be just the tip of the iceberg. At Anokijig, the current rate for our Resident Camp Program is $510 per week.

The hidden costs parents may encounter with resident camp fees at some camps include mandatory multi-week commitments. Some camps require that campers attend a minimum of anywhere from three to eight weeks (Anokijig has no multi-week requirements). That's a big commitment for a parent to make, especially if their child has never been to an overnight camp before, which brings us to the next potential hidden expense for parents.

What if your son or daughter gets very homesick and decides they want to leave? What if a family's schedule has changed and sending a child to camp is no longer possible? How much of your deposit is refundable, especially if you've committed thousands of dollars to a multi-week camp? That's an important question to ask before making such a huge commitment, because any number of situations could arise, which would prevent a child from staying at camp (or even getting there in the first place). Anokijig's $100/week deposit is non-refundable and non-transferable, but the balance of the fees are fully-refundable.

Whether you are taking your child to camp or sending them on a bus, make sure you factor in travel expenses in your decision. Travel expenses alone can often result in hundreds of dollars worth of savings (or added expense). How far away is the camp from your home? If you're trying to save a few dollars and one camp's fees are $40 cheaper than another's, will you really be saving that much if you have to drive an extra 100 miles each way to drop your child off and pick them up?

If you choose to send you child to camp on a bus, how much will it cost? Camp Anokijig's bus service runs to ten different locations in Southeastern Wisconsin and Northern Illinois. We offer one-way service for prices varying from $26-$47 and roundtrip service from $52-$94, based on location. Last year, Anokijig hosted campers from 23 different states. Some of those families have found the total cost of flying their child to Wisconsin and sending them to Anokijig is actually less, than sending them to a camp in their home state!

What activity fees are not included? At Anokijig, the only resident camp programs that have additional fees are some of our Arts & Crafts projects (typically 50 cents up to $3) and our Ranch program, which offers trail rides for anywhere from $10-$12. Our trading post sells some snack items and keepsakes, so most families will send an extra $25-$50 per week for their children, depending on how much horseback riding they plan on doing.

Are there any costs incurred before arriving at camp? For health and safety reasons, Anokijig requires that all campers coming to camp must have a recent physical exam. All ACA-accredited camps have this requirement, but the time and expense involved in getting the exam done before coming to camp needs to be considered.

Finally, will your child be required to purchase special clothing for their trip to camp? While Anokijig maintains a modest and appropriate dress code for our campers and staff, we do not require special uniforms for attending our camp.

We hope these tips have been helpful in your search to find the best camp for your child!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Send Your Kid to Camp Today!

If you haven't had a chance to send your child to Camp yet this year, there is still some space available in some weeks, but it's going fast. If your child camp to Anokijig earlier this summer and would really like to spend some more time here, consider bringing them back up soon.

  • As of this morning, Anokijig's availability looks like this-
    Week 6 has just nine spaces left for resident camp. If your child is thinking about coming that week or is currently at Anokijig and thinking about staying an extra week, you should call today to reserve a spot for Week 6.
  • If you would like your child to go on the Paintball Day Trip in Week 6, but have not yet signed up, do so today. That activity is nearly at capacity.
    Circle A Riders is at capacity for Week 6, so anyone interested in signing up for that program will be wait-listed.
  • Mini Camp is sold out for Week 6. However, if your child would like to give Anokijig a try, there is still space available for this three-day program in Weeks 7-9, although Week 8 is near capacity.
  • Ranch Camp is sold out for Week 8, so if your child would like to participate in Anokijig's Ranch Program, they can still sign up for Weeks 6, 7 or 9.
  • If you would like to register your child for Camp Anokijig, you can call us toll free at 1-800-741-6921 or follow this link to our secure online registration form-

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Hidden Side of Anokijig

When campers come to Anokijig, they expect to have the time of their life and most do, but it's not as simple as people just showing up and the great times turning on like a light switch. There always seems to be a constant flurry of activity going on behind the scenes, making everything at Anokijig function as it should.

One of the biggest tasks that campers rarely see is the process involved in feeding our herd of more than 50 horses. It is a massive undertaking, which used to require a tremendous amount of time and manpower. While the growing, cutting and baling of hay is still a long process, the generosity of the Case IH corporation has made it far less labor-intensive.

Almost every piece of farm of farm equipment at Anokijig has been donated from Case IH and last year, they recognized the need we had to replace our aging mower and baler. It wasn't a gift that many donors would consider "glamorous" or "high-profile," but the new mower and baler are absolutely essential to the successful operation of our ranch program.

The average camper may not give a second thought to the sight of our tractor cutting fresh hay and effortlessly tossing it into the air, but to our staff, it's a thing of beauty. Once the hay is sufficiently dry, our facilities manager, Scott Stewart, will head back out with our new baler and produce the massive "round" bales in a fraction of the time it once took for us to put the hay in traditional "square" bales.

Although these round bales are much larger and heavier than square bales, moving them around takes fewer people, because heavy equipment is involved in the entire process. In the past, baling hay involved dozens of staff members throwing bales onto trailers, hauling them to a barn and stacking them.

Just as our farm equipment is not on the radar of most campers, neither are the fields from which we farm our hay. Anokijig farms about 80 acres of hay, but not all of those hayfields belong to us. The picture in this post was taken about a mile North of Anokijig, along Highway E and the land is owned by two very generous supporters of Camp Anokijig, Brock & Lynn Brownrigg.

The Brownriggs have been very generous to Anokijig over the years and have been regularly donating their hay crops to us. Their generosity and the generosity of many other donors, including Case IH help us keep Anokijig and our Ranch Program affordable for our campers and we greatly appreciate their support!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Paying for Camp

Jenny Wolkowitz recently wrote a story for Tips on Trips and Camps on paying for summer camp. You can read the entire piece here-

We'd like to take a look at some of the points she raised in her story and how Camp Anokijig fits into the picture she paints. First, she points out that for parents, who went to a camp as children, the idea of sending their own kids to camp makes a lot of sense. It is an amazing experience and one that many former Anokijig campers will claim is well worth it. However, as Wolkowitz points out, finding the "right fit" is very important.

As much as we'd like to say Camp Anokijig is the best summer camp for every child, that probably isn't the case. While we have a broad range of offerings, there are many camps that offer activities that we do not. As a general rule of thumb, we like to say that anything you can do at home, you probably can't do at Anokijig and anything you do at Anokijig, you probably can't do at home. That means kids who want to play a lot of traditional sports at camp, like soccer, baseball, football or basketball would probably have more fun at a sports-specific camp that offers those activities. However, if a child would like to try windsurfing, horseback riding or archery, Anokijig is probably a good choice.

Wolkowitz also points out that there are two types of camps- agency camps and private camps. She also claims there is a pretty big price differential between the two, with camps subsidized by organizations like the YMCA or JCC being far more affordable than private camps. Anokijig may be unique in this regard. Although we were once a YMCA-affiliated camp, we are now what Wolkowitz would consider a "private camp."

Wolkowitz claims that campers at private camps must pay for all the costs of running a camp. That means most campers can expect to pay between $750-$1,000 per week for a a private camp in the Midwest, while agency camps in this part of the country typically charge between $500-$650 per week. Fortunately for our campers, Anokijig is at the low end of Wolkowitz's cost scale for subsidized camps at just $510 per week.

She also points out that camps in Missouri and Southern Illinois might be a little cheaper than those in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan, because they don't offer extensive water sports, like sailing and waterskiing. While we no longer offer waterskiing at Anokijig, we offer just about everything else on the water, from fishing, kayaking and canoeing to sailing and windsurfing. She also points out that camps in the Midwest are traditionally less-expensive, than East or West Coast camps. Based on her description of these camps, it sounds like Anokijig offers the best of both worlds- the ammenities and offerings of a typical private camp, for the price of a subsidized, agency camp.

Extra/hidden costs were another point of emphasis in this article that is worth mentioning. The only fee-based activities for Anokijig campers are horseback rides and some arts & crafts projects. None of our waterfront activities carry any additional fees, nor do our pellet gun or archery range or any other program areas. We do offer day trips and adventure trips for an additional fee, but if a child just wants to hang out at Anokijig all week (and most do), they can take a horseback ride or two, make some cool arts & crafts projects, grab a few snacks at the trading post and mom and dad will still not spend more than $550 for the entire experience.

Finally, Wolkowitz talks about scholarships (we call them camperships) and other ways to make a camping experience more affordable. Like many other camps, Anokijig offers a variety of options for families looking to make the Anokijig camping experience even more affordable. You can read more about those opportunities by following this link-