What are you thankful for?
Research tells us that people who have an "attitude of gratitude" are happier, have less stress, and have more energy. " Kids who feel and act grateful tend to be less materialistic, get better grades, set higher goals, complain of fewer headaches and stomach aches and feel more satisfied with their friends, families
and schools than those who don't..."
Read the rest of this interesting article here -- Thank You. No, Thank You
Wow! Don't we want this for our kids and ourselves? As we gather to fellowship with family and friends this Thanksgiving, let's remember the reason we get together is not the turkey and good food, the football, or even each other...the real reason is to return thanks to our Creator and Indescribable God. Read Psalm 100
all day -- while the cooks are in the kitchen, when you watch the parade, before the big game, after the touch football game on the lawn, and certainly, when you sit down to break bread together. Brand it on your heart and the hearts of your children, and then...
Join the song and raise your voices to the heavens!
Some folks for whom we are particularly thankful are our Thursday Crew volunteers. These folks come out to work at camp most Thursdays during the year. In 2012 they built bunkbeds for cabins and the great GaGa Pit that our campers loved this summer! They spent plenty of time working on all sorts of other smaller projects that help keep the site running smoothly. Thank you Thursday Crew 2012!
Tuning in at Camp Wightman!
Tune in…to God at Camp Wightman and Beyond
“I love to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station through which God speaks to us every hour, if we will only tune in.” - George Washington Carver
I don’t know about you, but trying to tune in each day is often a challenge in the midst of a busy life. And yet, when I do, oh, how wondrous the experience is.
As a mom it has been important for me to share my love of nature and the outdoors with my son, Parker. This sharing began for us at Camp Wightman on Billings Lake in rural southeast Connecticut. As a very young child, Parker had his first canoe trip, swimming and hiking experiences at camp. I held him on Infinity Rock watching brilliant sunsets. And while he doesn’t remember, he saw his first snake, fish, turtle, shooting stars, and rainbow there. Throughout the years, we have continued to return to camp to experience the awesomeness of God in nature.
Many of the other heart-stopping, God-filled moments Parker and I have shared have been in nature:
- A 30-mile bike trek enjoying the crisp fall air and the bright leaves blowing in the breeze.
- Kayaking across a lake and having a Bald Eagle swoop down just a foot away and scoop up a fish.
- While celebrating what would have been my grandparents’ 72nd wedding anniversary, a powerful rainstorm, followed by the brightest double rainbow we had ever seen. I believe it was God & my grandparents saying “We are here.”
- Mountain hiking on a beautiful fall day with the northwestern hills of Connecticut in a blaze of color.
- Watching the stunning sunset from the cliffs of Martha’s Vineyard.
- Snowshoeing in the Adirondack wilderness, sinking into the deep powder.
All of these encounters are proof to me and to Parker that there is a God.
No matter what your child’s age there is always a way to reveal to them the majesty of God. Most communities have accessible open space and there are state and county parks. When you enter the world of nature with a child, they often see things you take for granted. Their wonder at ferns swaying in the breeze, a snake slithering through the leaves, an ant struggling with something twice its size, a hawk soaring in the sky, or a waterfall gently gliding over stones calls us to stop and focus on the beauty and power of creation.
Get outdoors on a clear night and look above you. Can you doubt as you gaze at the multitude of stars that there isn’t a Greater Being? At camp one of the most awe-inspiring activities is sleeping under the stars in an open field. God surrounds us in that massive space with billions of stars shining their light on us.
Even in our seemingly mundane neighborhoods we can find God’s splendor. Recently I was outside and heard extremely loud pecking. Looking around I saw the most regal bird I had ever seen. With excitement and awe I called Parker outside. We watched a sleek black bird with white spots and bold red crown (we later discovered it was a Pileated Woodpecker). Parker was so enthralled by its beauty he followed it around the neighborhood as it flew from tree to tree.
Human beings have always been drawn to the beauty and majesty of nature, but nature invites us to look deeper. God is shining in every sunset, flowing through every stream, floating in each cloud, twinkling in every star, and reflecting from the eyes of every animal. Take time to tune in and discover God’s creation.
How have you shared the majesty of God with your child(ren)? What does your family do to connect with nature? How do you tune in?
Joy Youngs, another real life Wightman Mom, is pleased to say that as Parker has grown older he has continued to share her love of nature and the out-of-doors, so much so that he hopes to make a career out of it. They are still adventuring together when life permits, and listening to the owls hoot into the night at Camp Wightman, the place where they have had countless occasions to tune in!
Thank you, Joy, for with this beautiful entry! For those wanting more information about sharing the joy and majesty of nature with your family at Camp Wightman and beyond, please check out our Partnering with Parents article, Outside? Me?! But there's dirt and bugs and stuff out there!
Face to face with the Pileated Woodpecker! Reposted from cristinasarno.blogspot.com.
Hard at work! This is what Joy heard that afternoon. Reposted from National Geographic.
Two of these girls playing GaGa in Wightman's new GaGa Pit belong to today's guest author.
Birth order theory. It is the stuff of popular magazine articles. Oldest children are responsible and precocious, and youngest children act incompetent to manipulate people to get what they want. Middle children get lost in the shuffle, and only children never learn how to relate to people.
Probably because I am an only child, I had never been into this stuff. Who wants to be told they are doomed to a life of social cluelessness? The descriptions seemed like scientifically-dressed-up horoscopes, which when they weren’t true for everyone (the psychological equivalent of “you should be careful if you go walking in traffic today”) were just wrong (my college roommate is the youngest child in a large family and is one of the most capable and straightforward people I know).
So imagine my surprise when sending my oldest daughter to camp provided our family’s own personal birth order experiment and I got a glimpse not of what might have been, but who.
Both my husband and I loved camp as children (no doubt because it helped compensate for our otherwise diminished home lives - he was an only child too), and so we are in the send-them-as-soon-as-they’re-old-enough category of parents. This meant there were a couple of years when our older daughter would be away at camp while her sister stayed home with us.
Separating them worried us a bit. We figured the kid at camp would be fine; she would be surrounded by new friends and learning new things. But what about the one left behind? Would she be jealous? Lonely? It had been a bit challenging when her sister started kindergarten, and that was only for a few hours a day; what would happen now that big sissy wouldn’t be coming home for three whole nights?
The big day came. My attention was on the camper as we delivered her to her cabin and made sure she was all set up. “You can go now, Mom. We’re going to the waterfront with the counselor. Yes, I’ve got sunscreen on. Love you. Bye.” As our family-less-one walked back to the car I indulged in a few wistful thoughts, “Where did my baby go?” And then, AS THE CAR DOOR CLOSED, our younger daughter announced with authority, “Here’s what we’re going to do.”
She had a comprehensive plan. It was a plan for where we’d go, what games we’d play, and what we’d have to eat while her sister was gone. It was not a plan she had shared with her sister - or with us - up until that moment. She was so forceful, and her plan was so good, that we simply complied.
To go along with becoming mistress of her own destiny (and ours), our younger daughter also suddenly seemed to take on different personality traits. She was calmer. She was more patient. Rather than clinging to us as we had thought she might, she seemed self-possessed - independent.
When her older sister came home from camp, things returned to normal. Since then, though, I have wondered if what - or rather who - we saw in those few days is the person our younger daughter would have been as an only or eldest child. The experience reminds me to make space whenever I can to spend time with my children individually, and I appreciate how sending them away to camp, unexpectedly helped me get to know each of them better.
Michelle Madsen-Bibeau, only child (but seemingly able to make friends - no doubt as a result of her time at camp) is now the mother of two Wightman Campers. She is presently chaperoning several fifth graders on a trip to Iowa for the World Odyssey of the Mind Competition. We thought we would publish while she was away to smooth her entry into the world of blogging.
Thank you, Michelle, for this entry for Wightman Moms! For those wanting more information about dealing with parenting issues, please check out our Partnering with Parents entry, Celebrating Each Child’s Uniqueness.
Enjoying being together at Camp Wightman!
Welcome to the inaugural post of Wightman Moms!, the new Camp Wightman blog for Moms (and dads and guardians and other interested folks). This entry was written by Jennifer L. Sanborn, a real life Wightman Mom. Enjoy!
A friend e-mailed the other night to say she had registered her daughter for Camp Wightman, but her daughter is suddenly, seriously hesitant. “What’s your advice?” she asked.
Sending my children to camp is both simple and complicated for me, as are most parenting decisions, I suspect. I grew up attending an American Baptist camp, and -- get ready for the “Awwww….” -- I met my husband at camp, in the tradition of my parents who also met while working at camp during their college years. In other words, it feels natural and right to select another Christian camp, Camp Wightman, as a program of choice for my own children. The age and stage for each child’s readiness is another question entirely, and this is where the decision-making becomes complicated.
When my daughter was six going on seven, and we were still new to living in Connecticut, we participated together in Wightman’s “New Friends” program. While I fretted about her still-emerging swimming skills and her ability to make her way along root-laden paths with a flashlight, she thrived at Camp Wightman. As “New Friends” is a shared experience for child and parent, my daughter’s developing comfort and enthusiasm were right before my eyes. At one point in our overnight visit, she scampered ahead of me on the trail, and I had a vision of the delight she would experience when she was on her own. She served herself her own meals, slathered on her own sunscreen, and even toasted her own bagel for the very first time. While our children aren’t coddled at home, and both my husband and I work, I could see we had some work to do on the independence frontier! In being there myself, I could see she was ready, and, just as importantly, I prepared myself to be ready, too. Last year, on her first solo Camp Wightman experience, she returned home with slightly pink shoulders from the water carnival, but it was clear she had eaten, slept (some), washed her hair, and survived the mosquitoes on their overnight.
Being witness to her readiness reminded me of a “Parenting Through Swimming” course my husband and I had taken with our children. A couple, “Miss Colleen and Mr. Bob,” offers parents and their children an opportunity to experience learning to swim together. While for most parents, the swimming part is familiar, the experience of allowing children to experiment in water is not. For the kids, launching into the water for the first time is thrilling for some, worrisome for others. For all of us, the skills we learned were a bit about swimming and a whole lot about letting one another go.
At one point, Mr. Bob scooped my toddler-aged son from my arms, pulling him through the water as he kicked and laughed. My small boy’s only anxious look backward was when he could feel my arms instinctively reaching out to pull him back. There were some parents ready to drop their kids to waiting arms from the diving board the first night. Others, like me, needed to practically glue their arms at their sides to keep from drawing the kids back. Mr. Bob talked me through my anxiety, teaching me to befriend the twisted worry in my gut that is simply energy about change and my lack of control. I felt it then, and I know now I will feel it over and over and over again as I continue to place my children’s care into their own hands, into the hands of trusted others, and into God’s.
What’s my advice? How to decide if a child is ready for camp? How to respond when some will inevitably fret and worry? This is as much a process for you as parent as it is for your child. For me, this is a “feel the fear and do it anyway” experience. Given that Camp Wightman is a Christian camp, I celebrate how I and my children are learning to be part of a universe that is held together by the energy of God’s love, a power far beyond my imagination and, indeed, beyond my control. The releasing of control is a spiritual practice of sorts; this experience of both “going to” and “sending to” camp is enriching for all of us.
What’s your advice?
Thank you, Jennifer, for getting started with a great topic for parents and guardians of Wightman campers. For those wanting more information about dealing with these issues or just preparing for the camp experience in general, please check out our Partnering with Parents article, Missing Home Before You Dropped Them Off?: Resources for Parents.
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