Spring Prep Email #3: Communication

Dear Summer 2018 Families!

We are writing to you today with Spring Email #3! Spring Prep Email #2 can be found on our blog, if you need to look back on that information. We have less than 40 days until Session 1 begins!

This email will be focusing on communication. Mostly, it will be how us folks at camp (your camper and the camp directors & staff) will communicate with you all at home. There are a few things we will go over in this email: (1) Update Phone Calls and Emails, (2) Emergencies, (3) Mail, (4) Technology Policy, and (5) Visiting Days. This will cover mostly every aspect of communication during the summer.

On your camper information forms, please provide us phone numbers and emails of people that you would like us to communicate with.

1. Update Phone Calls and Emails:

We are always here for you. While preparing for camp, during the summer, and post-camp, as a Camp Director, I want to make sure we are providing you with as much information, support, and guidance as possible. We also will have questions for you as we continue to get to know your child, so that we can ensure that we are giving them the best possible camp experience. With all of that being said, please do not hesitate to call or email us at anytime. We may not pick up the phone if it is the middle of the night, but we will call you back first thing in the morning if that is the case. 

During the Summer, you will be communicating with a few different staff members. The three you will be communicating with most is myself (Lindsay - Camp Director), Louise (Camp Director), and Aziza (Assistant Camp Director). There are a handful of others who may pick up the phone when you call the office, or who may call to give you an update on your camper, but us three will be the main source of communication for you.

You can call us multiple times a day, or not at all during the three weeks, but we will definitely call you with updates as they come during the summer. If at any point you want more information, please don’t hesitate to call or email.

We can be reached by phone at: 717-567-3349.
We can be reached by email at: lindsay@longacre.com and louise@longacre.com.

2. Emergencies

If there is ever an emergency or situation that disrupts your child’s camp experience, we will notify you immediately. The safety of your child is our #1 priority. It is essential for us that we are able to consult you in these situations and give you updates as they come. We will communicate these situations over the phone. 

In the case of an injury or medical emergency, we will communicate in the following manner:
If your child is in distress. 
If your child needs to see a medical professional.
If your child goes to the infirmary. Our campers (we call them “farmers”) go to the infirmary for one of two reasons: illness or recovery. In the event of illness, we will notify you. In the event of recovery, we will have already notified you because of #2 (above) and we will keep in contact for the duration of your child’s stay.

3. Mail

Campers love receiving letters in the mail, and we encourage you to send them letters often. It brings comfort and connection to home while they are away! Please give our address to any family members that want to send letters too! We recommend sending a few letters early on (even a few days before camp begins), so our campers will hear from you during the Blackout Period. 
We encourage our campers to write home as well. Please send stationary, but if there is anything that they forget, we will happily provide it for them! And we give our kids activity periods to write, if they so choose. We encourage them to write during rest hour, and also have writing activities where letters home are often written. 
Many parents love sending care packages too. We just ask that there is NO FOOD in the care packages. This helps prevent issues with allergies and animals getting into the cabins. There are plenty of opportunities for sweet treats throughout the summer, so instead, maybe send $5 for an ice cream cone at Hall’s or a few candy bars at Hershey Park. 
Things that we recommend in care packages include letters, books, magazines, stationery, photos, playing cards and games.
Here is the address for your camper (different than the office address):

[Your Camper] 
Longacre Leadership Camp
6565 Creek Rd. 
Newport, PA 17074
4. The Technology Policy:
Because our Technology policy is unique, I want to outline it again for everyone. During the session the first week is technology free, known as the Blackout Period, and then we introduce technology back into the camp experience, and coach our campers through navigating relationships and being present.
The blackout period applies to all farmers (we call our campers “farmers”). It takes place at the beginning of each session. The blackout period means that farmers will not have access to their smartphones or other connected devices, nor will they have the ability to call home (barring emergency).
The purpose of this blackout period is to hasten your child’s emotional transition to camp. A successful transition to camp requires an emotional leap on the part of the camper. The earlier your child makes that leap the better it will be for everyone. We want your child to begin digging in immediately. This means learning names, shaking hands, and having those initial conversations. Smartphones get in the way of all this. When we spend the first week technology free, our campers are able to connect emotionally to their peers, therefore building a strong foundation for our trusting and supportive community. 
For Session 1 and Session 2, the blackout period lasts one week. Farmers get their phones back Sunday evening. For Session 3 / MiniCamp, the blackout period lasts five days. Farmers get their phones back on Friday evening.
We will collect everyone’s devices on Arrival Day. We will put the devices in Ziploc bags. We will use a log to ensure each device is returned to its proper owner. If you don’t want to bring a device at all, you don’t have to! Just please let us know that.
Near the end of the blackout period, we will begin talking about our technology policy, the intention behind it, and our rules. For example, farmers are not allowed to use their phones during activities or crews, but farmers are allowed to use their phones during meals and free time.
We make it clear that farmers are accepting full responsibility if a phone gets trampled by a goat or is somehow damaged or lost.
Farmers can collect their devices at the end of the blackout period. Some farmers end up leaving their devices with us for the duration of the summer. Many farmers don’t even bring one to camp. The claim “I’m the only one without a phone” has never been true.
It may sound surprising, but we’re in our sixth year of this now and it’s often peers (not counselors) who are regulating device usage. Remember, we are teaching direct communication skills. So, for example, if Johnny is on his phone throughout dinner, Scotty might say, “Johnny, I felt frustrated today when we were talking and you disappeared into your phone.” A comment like that carries more weight coming from a friend than from a Big Kid (we call our counselors “Big Kids”).
The blackout period can be an adjustment for parents, too. You just sent your child to camp. You’re wondering how he’s doing, if he’s having fun, if he’s making friends, if he’s remembering to wear sunscreen, and so on. It can be hard, we know that. That's why we will be in contact with you throughout the blackout period, as often as you’d like, to give you updates. You can rest assured that if there’s any concern we will contact you immediately. If you’re really struggling, you can always call us and talk to a director.
5. Visiting Day
There will be two visiting days this summer: one visiting day for Session 1 and another for Session 2. There will be no visiting day for Session 3 / MiniCamp because their time is short.
Session 1 — Sat., Jul. 7th
Session 2 — Sat., Jul. 28th
In both cases, Visiting Day is the second Saturday of the session.
On visiting day, you may arrive as early as 9:00 a.m. and leave as late as 7:00 p.m. You may join us for all of the day, or only a portion, whatever works for your family. If you are unable to make visiting day work, that is no problem at all; there will still be programming for your child and they won’t be the only one without a visitor!
On visiting day, we would love all of our families to join us for a dinner time afternoon BBQ where we can all share a meal together. We invite you to tour the farm, participate in the programs, and meet other families and campers. There is an opportunity for you to take your camper off-site if necessary in morning, but really want to encourage you to be on camp with us for at least dinner. 
Please notify us if you plan on attending visiting day!

Thank you so much for reading, and please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions 717-567-3349 or lindsay@longacre.com.

I cannot wait to spend the summer with your family!
With love,