Friday, February 7, 2014

Why Camp Counselors Can Out-Parent Parents (by Michael Thompson)

Are you having trouble getting your 9-year-old daughter to make her bed every day? How about your 11-year-old son? Does he get up in the morning and run down to the dining room to set the breakfast table for the family? And after breakfast, does he clear the dishes and wipe down the table? He doesn’t? Sorry to hear that. (Neither did mine.)
And while I’m at it, may I ask about video games? Texting? Do your children get angry and stubborn when you ask them to shut off their electronics at dinner time or when it is time for bed? Lots of parents have told me that the turn-off-the-video-games confrontations can be tougher to handle than the turn-off-the-TV moments.
Whether the issue is chores or screens, at times like these we question our own parenting: have we spoiled our children? Do they lack discipline … or do we? Should we emulate the focus of the tiger moms? Why can’t we raise our bon bébés with the natural authority of French parents? Why is it that our children, by the age of 8 or 9, have tired of our commands and our advice? We must look ourselves in the mirror and ask: What should we be doing differently? Time to buy more parenting books!
As a so-called “parenting expert,” I am struck by how often American parents think that the answer to their parenting dilemmas is for them to do more, or better, or to do something differently. I disagree. I often believe parents should do less, and should sometimes take themselves out of the picture, especially in the summer, when it’s easy to stop battling and turn some of the toughest parenting challenges over to 20- and 21-year-olds who can perform magic with their children.
College-age students possess a completely different kind of authority than do parents, and they put it to good use getting children to set tables, make beds, keep track of their clothes, take showers, take turns and, more important, take risks and accept challenges that would melt parents into a puddle of anxious empathy. These young adults often teach complex, challenging life-and-death skills: sailing, horseback riding, rock climbing, whitewater kayaking and survival techniques. They also teach character and community, caring and sacrifice. And they do it all in an environment free of electronics: summer camp.
Why is it that these young people pay such close attention to counselors who are actually just a few years older than they are? How can these counselors, so young and relatively inexperienced with children (though they have far more training than in the past), get campers to do things without a struggle that are often an occasion for tears and tantrums at home?
In his masterwork, “Childhood and Society,” Erik Erikson reminds us that not all learning comes from “systematic instruction.” In preliterate societies and in non-literate pursuits, he points out, “much is learned from adults who become teachers by dint of gift and inclination rather than by appointment and perhaps the greatest amount is learned from older children (italics are mine).”
Children love to learn, but they get tired of being taught by adults. Children want to learn from older children, and, at a camp that means older campers, C.I.T.’s (counselors in training) and camp counselors. They want to live with them, emulate them, absorb them. In our age-segregated society, camp is the only place in America where an 11-year-old can get the sustained attention of a 19-year-old. In return for the attention of these “older children,” campers will make sacrifices. They will follow all kinds of rules and adhere to all kinds of rituals that they would likely fight at home.
When children return home from camp, parents are amazed. “She is so grown-up,” they observe. “He is so responsible!” a startled father exclaims.  “He cleans up after himself.” Another mother, amazed at her child’s growth in only a month, remarks, “He tries so many new foods!”
There’s just no contest between parents and counselors. The college students are vastly better looking than we are; they are truly cool and they have dazzling skills. When children need a summer filled with growth and change (not to mention fun and glory), I tell their parents to give camp a chance.

Michael Thompson, Ph.D. is a psychologist, school and camp consultant. He is the author of Homesick and Happy: How Time Away from Parents Can Help a Child Grow.

Read the full article here in the New York Times blog

Friday, January 24, 2014

Remember when...

Remember when being a kid was riding bikes outside until sun down, two-hand-touch, dirt everywhere, and tire swings.  When ColecoVision was the height of video entertainment and movies were made about going on an adventure.  Since then video games have gotten more realistic and reality has become TV.  Movies with Tom Hanks have gone from hilarious to depressing.  It's a sad sign of the times.

But don't fret!  Summer camps, like Camp Henry Horner, have remained a consistent source of traditional, outdoor, fun!  We will play outside daily, swim daily, get dirty daily, and let your child grow daily.  We let your child grow, learn, and stretch their limits in a safe, fun environment.

Spaces are still available for our day and overnight camps.  One week options available!  Get your kids outside in a REAL social atmosphere!

Don't forget to like us on Facebook and follow us on Instagram so that you can see us enjoying the outdoors!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Ways to Meet CHH

Thanks so much for coming out to the camp fairs this past week!  We had a great time in Cleveland and Elmhurst!  If you haven't gotten the chance to meet with one of our camp staff and would like to, please call 847-740-5010 or email Kenley Perry, Camp Director at or Isaac Brubaker, Day Camp Director, at  Contact us for more information or a tour!

If you're still interested in attending a fair to meet us, check us out at:

February 1 - St. Louis Summer Opportunities Fair

February 9 - Lincolnshire ACA/PTA Camp and Summer Adventure Fair

February 22 - Indy's Child Camp Fair at Fashion Mall at Keystone at the Crossing

March 1 - Fox Lake Business and Family Expo - Grant Community High School

March 5 - Naperville Camp Fair

March 6 - District 181 Camp Fair - Claredon Hills Middle School

March 8 & 9 - Schaumburg Kids Expo

March 15 - RecPlex Kids Expo in Pleasant Prairie, WI

Come visit us and hear all about Camp in person!

Friday, January 3, 2014

Your Grandparents Didn't Have Food Allergies, So Why Do You?

A concern all over the U.S. is the growing number of food allergies.  Conspiracy theorists blame it on vaccines, pollution, and/or two men on the Grassy Knoll (look it up, kids).  Like the riddle of the Tootsie Pop, the world may never know.  The good folks over at Butter Nutrition have come up with a theory I think is worth sharing.

Here are their 7 simple reasons:

1) They ate seasonal real food.

Food came from farms and small markets in the early 1900′s, and because food preservatives were not widely used yet, food was fresh. Because of the lack of processed food, their diets were nutrient dense allowing them to get the nutrition they needed from their food.
For babies, breast milk was valued and it was always in season.

2) They didn’t diet, and play restrictive games with their body and metabolism. They ate food when food was available.

Our grandparents did not fall victim to fad diets, food marketing, calorie counting, and other detrimental dieting habits that are popular today (in part because the marketing infrastructure didn’t exist yet). Because of this they had a healthy metabolism, and ate according to their body’s needs and cravings.

3) They cooked food at home, using traditional preparation methods from scratch.

Buying processed food was not an option, and eating out was a rare luxury. Lucky for our grandparents these habits actually increased their health.

4) They didn’t eat GMO’s, food additives, stabilizers and thickeners.

Food was not yet treated with additives, antibiotics and hormones to help preserve shelf life and pad the pockets of food producers in the early 1900′s at the expense of the consumer’s health.

5) They ate the whole animal that included mineral richbone broths and organ meats.

Animal bones were saved or bought to make broths and soups, and organ meats always had a special place at the dinner table. These foods were valued for their medicinal properties, and never went to waste.

6) They didn’t go to the doctor when they felt sick or take prescription medications. Doctor visits were saved for accidental injuries and life threatening illness.

When they got a fever, they waited it out. When they felt sick, they ate soups, broths and got lots of rest. They did not have their doctor or nurse on speed dial, and trusted the body’s natural healing process a whole lot more than we do today. Their food was medicine, whether they realized it or not.

7) They spent lots of time outside.

Our grandparents didn’t have the choice to stay inside and play on their phones, computers and gaming systems. They played on the original play-station:  bikes, swing-sets and good ol’ mother nature!

And what do these things have to do with food allergies?

Nutrition affects EVERY cell in our body. The health of our cells is dependent on diet and lifestyle. Cells create tissues, tissues create organs,  and we are made up of a system of organs. If your nutrition is inadequate, the integrity of each cell, tissue and organ in your body will suffer, thus you may be MORE sensitive to certain foods.
What does this mean to us at Camp?  I think it means that we need a few more home cooked meals that don't come from a box and a few more days spent playing outside.  Seems to me that being at Camp will help cut down on your food allergies!  See you at Camp this summer!

For the full article, click here!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Alumni profile - Norman Buxbaum

This week I want to tell you all about my privileged with meeting Norman Buxbaum.  Norman is 84 years old and works as a clerk for Cook County.  Norman has had a very full life and Camp Henry Horner was a big part of that.

Norman grew up on the Great Vest Side of Chicago, an area that he calls, "the greatest city in the world".  He told me all about how he chose to attend Crane High School based entirely on his older brother's say-so.  While at Crane, Norman played basketball every chance he got.  He then went on to play for Loyola University where he was one of the few Jewish men to play and probably the only Jewish man at Loyola at the time.  The Loyola Wolves were pretty good, as he recalls, and Norman got to play at some of the big arenas including several Big 10 colleges, Notre Dame, and Madison Square Garden!  Because of his basketball skills in college, he was inducted to the Jewish Hall of Fame.  After college he became an Army Sergeant in Korea.  I don't want to go into too much detail, but these only cover the first 25 years or so of Norman's extraordinary life!

My reason for meeting with Norman was because he attended the American Boys Club (ABC) and Camp Wooster and Camp Henry Horner in late 1930s and early 1940s.  Norman easily picked out faces he recognized and he could usually put a name with them.  In fact, upon seeing a portrait of long-time camp director, Chuck Desser, Norman commented on how Chuck pitched lefty.  I had to think about it for a second but he was right!  Below is the confirmation.

As we continued to reminisce over dinner, he told me all about his time at Camp.  He remembered growing up skinny and relatively poor.  He said his mother would give him bread and candy sandwiches to fatten him up!  He remembered the meals at Camp and said they were some of the best he'd had.

He also fondly remembered swimming at the lake and finally achieving his goal of swimming out to the lifeguard raft in the middle of the lake.  He even commented that being at Camp and the skills he learned while here helped him while in the service.  He knew how to build a fire, swim, and a few other important skills.

It was truly an honor to meet Norman and I sincerely hope that he makes it out to our 100th Alumni Reunion this summer!  Help us spread the word by sharing the link and let me know if you want to share your stories, too!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Donate Now!

The year end is almost upon us and it's the perfect time to make a donation to JCYS Camp Henry Horner!  Now is the perfect time to give a gift to the JCYS.  With your help, we can continue to be a positive influence in the lives of hundreds of children each year!

Last week you read a story from the Comer's about what CHH has meant to their family over the last decade.  These same words ring true for current families and countless other families over the last 100 years!  Help us keep these traditions going strong by donating to the JCYS!

At Camp Henry Horner we are constantly striving to provide excellence in the field of camping.  We spend all year looking for new, creative ways to provide our campers with the best camping experience possible.  Every donation helps us keep up that consistently amazing programming!  

Even a small donation helps us.  Last year Camp went through 1,728 rolls of toilet paper.  Each roll of toilet paper costs $1.61.  If you donate enough money to buy a few more rolls, that helps us put money toward things that are a lot more fun!  For example, if we didn't have to pay for any toilet paper, we'd save enough money to buy a new Aqua Jump or an almost entirely new fleet of boats!