Are traditional camps a thing of the past?
If you do some quick web searching, it won't take you long to find a specialty camp for just about any and everything your child might be interested in. It's how the summer camp businesses are evolving to keep the interest of their customers (the kids). More and more, the kids are in the driver’s seat when it comes to deciding on what they are going to do with their summer, not the parents. From zombie "nerf" camps to “learn to sew” summer camps, there is something for everyone out there if you look. But what about traditional camps and traditional camp values? Do they exist, and will my child want to go?
There are a few camps that continue to hold onto the "traditional camp" model, and over the years many fellow camp directors have shared their concerns that enrollment in camps offering only the “traditional camp” model struggled. It’s not that children don't benefit from traditional camp values and programming, it’s just become a tougher sell to the more aware children, especially with so many more options available to them via their own research and social networking (yes, kids talk to kids about what camps to do and not do)!
LINX Camps has unlocked the secret to giving kids the best of both worlds! LINX takes pride in the fact that we’ve always infused traditional camp values and activities into every camp we offer. Kids learn how to build community and character while enjoying camp games and more traditional activities as part of every camp day. With over 40 camps that focus on Adventure, Fine Arts, General camps, Junior camps, Leadership, Performing Arts, Sports, and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math), there is something for everyone!
Looking for a traditional camp that gives kids the freedom to choose their activity? Check out Freedom Camp
Day camps are a wonderful option for parents who are uncertain of their child’s readiness (or their own) for the responsibilities and separation of attending a sleepaway camp. By providing an environment rich in the same experiences, day camps can be a quality stress-free alternative for many parents. When I think back on my own experience as an 8 year old attending a 5-week sleepaway camp, I remember the fun I had learning to swim, playing camp games, watching ceremonies, and making new friends. As an adult now, it is clear to me that my mom was the one who wasn’t ready, and her emotions made her do some silly and irrational things to compensate. I heard about how she would “camp out” for an hour or two in her car next to the main building at night just to be nearby. I also heard about the drive she made to the camp one evening because she wanted to make sure I had enough medicine. In looking down at the car’s speedometer, she was shocked to find that she was driving 90 mph to a camp that was only a few miles away! In this case, it’s pretty clear my mom was not ready, and could have benefited from finding a day camp with the same benefits as a sleepaway camp.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Josh Schiering, LINX Vice President and Executive Director, about how LINX Camps is like a sleepover camp but without the overnight stay. He was overflowing with enthusiasm and information, and I’d like to share with you some important points from our conversation:
Josh: We are similar in the way we approach community building. We have camp rituals on a weekly basis that are entrenched in camp history, like coming together for opening and closing ceremonies, focusing on team spirit, having traditional camp sing-alongs, and participating in competitions. We have our own vocabulary that is specific to us and becomes part of our culture. We also have camp-wide special events every Friday to unite the whole camp in a common theme, like the Olympics.
The trend today is for families to seek out specialty camps for their kids, like sports, science, and dance, so children can pursue their passions and interests under the guidance of expert instruction. We are able to do this without losing sight of building a sense of familiarity and family. We offer 1-week sessions with over 30 premier camps, and most kids enroll in 6 to 10 weeks of the summer. They are able to go from one type of camp to the next while staying at LINX Camps with all the things that are familiar to them. Regardless of the program chosen, they still have the common bond and routine.
I have learned from my own life experiences at sleepaway camp, and we’ve infused a lot of the same qualities into our day camp experience, which is why I suspect our campers stay with us until they’re much older. Typically you see a lot of 5th and 6th grade kids launching into sleepaway camp, but I think because LINX Camps does such an outstanding job of creating that sense of family, tradition, rituals and belonging that we are able to retain our campers much longer than the norm or the industry standard. We had many kids who were 5th through 8th graders that are now 9th and 10th grade CITs (Counselor in Training).
Last summer, we had our first LINX Camps Family Picnic, where parents, children and LINX Staff came together in true camp spirit to enjoy a traditional camp experience complete with camp songs, competitions and a warm campfire. It was clear to me that once the parents got here, our family had expanded!
Josh: A lot of kids only get to experience a level of teamwork and unity when they do high school sports. We actually hire a lot of former captains and coaches to work with our groups to bring that communal team-oriented spirit and energy into our camp groups as young as 3 and 4 year olds and up through the high school level. Campers rally around that sense of team, sportsmanship and unity. They have a terrific sense of pride in their specific groups. It’s very positive in nature. It’s never at the expense of another group; there is no putting down of another group. You can always be the best you can be without knocking down your peers, and that is part of our good sportsmanship lessons and what we teach our campers.
We have learned from our life experiences that children thrive in a structured setting with predictability. So knowing a schedule in advance is a comfort for the kids. They need to know what they will be doing for first and second period, when they will break for lunch, and how much time they have left for swimming, etc. So yes, we have a structured and prescheduled day. All that being said, it’s not regimented to the point that there is any stress built around anything. While we maintain a schedule, all children get to their activity with a lot of chanting and cheering. It isn’t a high-pressured environment in which anyone feels pressured because of a schedule. All the chanting and cheering helps with keeping them motivated to get from one activity to the next.
Josh: There are countless teachable moments in all of our life experiences and all of what we do, whether at school, on the playground, during sports, and most certainly, at day camp. Kids do have the opportunity at our camp to make friend requests to be grouped together, but many kids come from all over (we serve almost 20 different townships) and don’t know with whom they’re going to be grouped. So kids learn how to get along, be a teammate, be a good sport, put themselves out there, take chances, be a good friend, and lift someone up. We have an expression we use at camp, “no put downs, only lift ups.” While they’re not sleeping in the same bunkhouse together, they are put together in groups of 8 to 10 kids per group from all over the place. This makes it a great opportunity to appreciate and respect one another’s differences, talents and abilities, and to learn how to work together in conflict resolution, problem solving and independent thinking. We work really hard to get these elements into everything that these kids are doing. We steer them in a way to solve their own conflicts and their own problems. But first and foremost, we peel it all the way back and really build a support network. The relationships that our counselors build with each group and each individual are built on trust, and the campers learn very quickly that these adults in their lives - their counselors - are there for them. Kids learn to make choices. Within our freedom camp, kids are presented with options every afternoon of what they want to do as their specialty. So they can act independently and pursue their own interests, go with the flow, or team up with a friend. They push themselves in swimming to get to the next level, learn how to handle frustration if they fail at something, and pick themselves up because there is no failing, only stumbling. They learn that we get up every time we fall. There are a ton of life lessons and learning that goes on everyday in a day camp setting.
Josh: It is important for kids to have family time and recharge their batteries at the end of an exciting camp day. Kids want to talk to their parents and siblings about who is going to win the sprit competition, what color Olympic team they are on, or what they are looking forward to the next day. Getting that time at home with parents and siblings is something terrific.
Obviously many kids graduate to sleepaway camp and it’s a great experience for them to explore their own individuality and learn a level of independence. But not every kid is ready for sleepaway camp at a young age and it’s not for every family. To have day camps such as ours that create and combine that sense of unity and togetherness with a traditional camp experience, while you still get to go home and have that family time, I think, is terrific.
If you like the idea of overnight camp because of the activities and traditional experiences they offer, but are unsure about enrolling your child in one, feel free give us a call to schedule your own private tour of LINX Camps. You’ll see first hand why we are an outstanding day camp choice with many traditional qualities for your family to enjoy for years to come.
As the father of three daughters (7th, 5th and 3rd grade), I want to make sure I raise them to value equality: equality at home, in school and in the workplace. I want my girls to think beyond the borders portrayed in books, on tv, in schools and in life. My girls will understand that the only limits they have, are the limits they set on themselves!Read More
Now that the grocery stores are dedicating a whole isle to Halloween candy, many parents are plagued by the thought of their kids consuming generous amounts of the treats they will soon collect on the big night! If you are one of these parents, the "Trick-or-Treat Witch" may be the perfect tradition to start with your family!
The "Trick-or-Treat Witch" is a wonderful queen of candy who visits your house a few nights after Halloween to collect the candy your kids are willing to give away to others. The witch shows her thanks by leaving a pumpkin pail full of replacement treats - favorite art supplies, healthy snacks, temporary tattoos, fidget toys, or whatever their little donors would love!
The origin of the "Trick-or-Treat Witch" is a bit of a mystery, but you can find a similar theme in an entertaining children’s book, The Switch Witch, written and illustrated by Charity A. O’Neill-O’Kane. It's a great bedtime story to read throughout October and a simple way to introduce the idea of switching the candy for something else.
As I prepared the school lunches every night (back when my kids were little) I sometimes wondered at what age I should stop writing silly messages and faces on the napkin. If there was a banana in the mix, sometimes even that sported a face. It wasn’t just any napkin though, it faithfully carried a message from mom: a silly face or just the words “I love you.” Sometimes they shared the napkin with their friends and had a laugh. They could always count on the napkin, neatly tucked into each brown paper bag stuffed with sandwich, fruit, healthy snack, juice box and desert…and it made us all feel great.
As my first-born entered 2nd grade however, I sadly learned it was about time I treated her like a big kid. She sweetly told me to stop writing on her napkin. I felt a twinge of heartache of course, but she had my full cooperation. At around 5th grade, I let her make her own lunches with the selections we had in the house, and she did a great job. Of course, in doing this, she realized she had a little less free time, and I would hear how much she LOVED and MISSED my lunches! This made me smile, and I still had to make the lunches for her brother and sister, who still loved the napkin. But, as time went on, even the “baby” didn’t need the napkin anymore.
The kids kept getting bigger, so I looked for more ways to make the small things special. Little unexpected things mean a lot more than anything you can buy, like watching a half hour TV show with them, even though you both know it’s not your favorite. It shows you value the time you spend together. If someone is feeling down, a surprise cup of hot chocolate, maybe even before dinner, will let him or her know you care about whatever it is, even if they don’t want to talk about it yet. It’s the little things they are going to remember.
A lot of time has passed and that 2nd grader is now a college student. As she moves into her dorm and unpacks her sheets and finds candy kisses freely falling out of the folds, or grabs for her shower caddy and finds a Reese’s peanut butter cup under the shampoo…. I know she is still getting the same faithful and timeless message from Mom.
Looking for ways to spend special time with your little one? Check out our Fall Family Music Makers Class!
Did you know that participation in performing arts classes can help your child improve self-confidence, study skills, and overall health? Learning to dance or act requires focus, determination, practice, and patience, all needed for a successful school year. LINX specializes in award winning Theater and Dance classes for all ages, with the goal of fun and learning. The physical activity, team or cast environment, and focus on technical training found in both theater and dance classes help your child take on academic and social challenges in school. Most importantly, children gain these benefits while doing something they love!
LINX Theater offers a wide variety of voice and theater classes for children 3 years to 12th grade. Participation in a theater class can help your child develop the ability to be heard, to give comfort through laughter, and to feel confident in difficult situations. Our Theater Director, Todd Morse, is confident in the benefits, “It is our mission at LINX Theater to create a strong foundation of creativity and self-confidence in all our players so that, no matter what schooling or occupation they pursue, they can always draw on these roots and stand out from the crowd.”
LINX Dance classes involve aerobic activity along with mental focus to learn dance routines. This kind of activity helps improve both physical and mental fitness. LINX Dance classes include ballet, hip-hop, breakdancing, tap, lyrical, jazz, acro tumbling and more. With the help of highly qualified dance instructors, children in preschool through high school are inspired to reach their individual potential. Our Dance Director, Heather Emley, says, “We take pride in providing strong technical classes while creating a fun and encouraging environment for all dancers.”
Theater and Dance classes for all ages are professionally taught and take place at LINX headquarters in Wellesley, MA. Theater classes have the benefit of an extensive collection of costumes, props, scenery, stage sets, and use of LINX’s own Black Box Theater. Dance classes take place in the state of the art dance studios, enhanced with Marley sprung floors to help prevent harsh injuries and repeated collisions.
I had the privilege of watching my daughter in a high school play, which brought me back to my own “stage crew” days as a kid. More importantly I realized that with the right guidance, kids can perform beyond their own expectations, while setting themselves on a path to great personal growth.
I say it was my privilege because a lot of personal effort goes into learning to perform. As I watched the effort my daughter put into her role in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, I thought to myself, “Wow, she has come a long way with her confidence and ability since middle school.” I also watched with awe, as the kids were able to speak many lines in the Old English style with great clarity and confidence! I was very impressed with the dedication that must have gone into the performance.
The confidence gained helped to bring out (even further than it already was) my daughter’s ability to make people laugh, regardless of the situation. I always knew she inherited the comedy gene seen in our family tree, so it was no surprise that her interests would take her to the stage. If there is a spark of interest in this creative art form it is worth the effort to engage your child to sign up to audition for a part, as in a school play, or to enroll in a program led by professionals who have a deep love for theater and teaching kids.
I don’t know how far she will take her acting interest, but how ever far she chooses, I will always be her biggest fan. Acting education has so many personal rewards. Even if the theater is not pursued as a career, she keeps valuable personal skills to move forward with in life, like the ability to be heard, to give comfort through laughter, and to feel confident in difficult situations. I want to nurture her love of the performing arts, and our family is happy to support and enjoy the evolution of a wonderful, creative young lady.
LINX Theater is the ideal environment to nurture your child’s creative spark, with recreational and advanced classes for all interest levels.
Listening to a story and getting to act it out, I promise you, will have a lasting positive impact on friendships, lessons learned, and memories that will stay for a lifetime. How do I know? Let me take you back to my early elementary school years…I’ll leave out the date and just say I’m an adult with my oldest kid in college now.
We loved having the “Little Golden Books” read to us as kids, and even more fun was bringing the characters to life in short plays, like The Country Mouse and The City Mouse, which had a positive impact on my life. Even though I didn’t have a role in that play (back then we didn’t have equal roles for everyone), I had my fair share of fun in others. I had immeasurable fun helping my best friend, Missy, and my sister, Maggie (same age as me), rehearse their roles, as they acted out 2 mouse cousins living very different lifestyles, one of simplicity and safety, and the other of extravagance with danger at every turn.
I watched it all play out from practicing lines at home to dress rehearsals, with my sister donning adult sized pearls, gown, heels and hat much too big for her, and the BFF in comfy country clothes, which suited her perfectly because she lived on a farm in real life. I was in complete awe of the city mouse’s NYC attitude and swank as she tried to convince her country cousin, who was content to eat berries from her garden, to come with her to the grandeur of her mansion, and the promise of dining on the crumbs of an exquisite table laden with meats, cheeses and pastry. In the end, if you know the story, they narrowly escape a hungry cat and other dangers without ever tasting the roast!
To this day, if I recite the line “My dear, I do not like to boast, but have you ever tasted roast?” my BFF or sister will loudly proclaim, “A roast of beef, done to a turn! Or coffee spilling from an urn!”
We all stayed close over time, and I credit that to the opportunities we had as young kids to be part of something slightly bigger, even a small production inspired by a short story from a “Little Golden Book.” Helping each other do something you love goes a long way in forging friendships, and the lessons learned are limitless. My circle and I learned not to take the simple life for granted, and not surprisingly the BFF found her way to owning her own farm, complete with chickens and horses, and my sister lives just on the outskirts of a big city, where she can put on her pearls and heels and know she is but a short drive away from a fine dinner. Something wonderful happens when kids act out what they read in books, and the lessons and friendships stay with us for a long time.
Every child becomes a storybook character in LINX Theater’s Storybook Theater class for young actors up to 4 years old.
Kids love and relate to the characters on the TV shows we let them watch, so why not create a fun outdoor game based on their own imagination and their favorite characters? With a little help from you, there can be a fun one on one game for you and your preschooler to enjoy and remember for a long time!
All you need is sidewalk chalk, water balloons, and imagination!!
There is nothing better than laughing and remembering these times with your kids. My kids (cough, cough, oldest 21) still remember me being the “traffic-guard-fast food-drive through-cashier” in our driveway as they rode their tricycles and scooters in circles around me. In fact, they would request this game whenever it looked like “mom was in the mood for a game!” I have great memories, and I know this is sure to be a splash for you!
Miss Heather Emley, LINX Dance Director
The LINX competitive dance program is beneficial in teaching young dancers about commitment while also giving them an opportunity to grow as dancers and share their love of dance.
Not only is a competitive dance program a great way to learn how to be on a team and to build a strong bond with other members on the team, but it also helps dancers learn how to motivate one another and work together to grow and achieve both individually and as a group. Dancers have the chance to make great dance friends from a variety of nearby towns and share their love of dance.
Throughout the season, dancers will perform at three mandatory competitions with the opportunity to perform solos, duos, trios, and small groups at additional competitions. Dancers will learn a variety of genres of dance from professional and highly qualified instructors. Moreover, dancing on stage multiple times throughout the year will help children develop poise, confidence, and self-esteem.
The commitment that competitive dance programs require result in more studio hours that focus on building proper technique, strength and flexibility. Additionally, dancers can expect more disciplined and structured classes in which they are held to higher expectations and standards. Learning to balance dance with other commitments is a great way to learn responsibility, time management, discipline and how to take constructive criticism.
Dancers in our competitive program will have a professional photo shoot (head shots and action shots) to be used during the season. Dancers also have the opportunity to learn extra group choreography over the summer for a chance to compete in additional routines at competition.
June 26, 2017
Audition technique can be learned in workshops and classrooms, but the best way to improve is by doing. "Audition" can be a scary word at first. It takes many tries before one feels that they truly know how to audition. But even then, there's always the possibility of unexpected encounters and moments in the audition room. I can't even begin to guess how many auditions I've been to, but it's been a lot. Through repetition, I've learned auditions styles, techniques and procedures that help me to maintain as much control as I can in the audition room. But, the end result is up to the directors, and that's what makes auditions so unnerving.
At LINX, we make sure everyone who auditions for us knows that there's no risk of complete rejection. Everybody is invited to something. We also like to make the audition room friendly, positive, and fun. While this may not be the audition experience in high school and beyond, it's certainly how we like to start our performers off. After all, our auditions are practice more than anything. We hope that after auditioning for us multiple times, our performers will feel more confident when they step into an audition room outside of LINX.
Here are a few quick tips I have for auditions:
When singing or reading a monologue, try not to look directly at the directors. Look above their heads at a spot on the wall. This way, the director does not feel like you are using them as a scene partner, which can be awkward for them if they want to jot down a note, or move their eyes to another part of the room.
Introduce yourself! When you stand before the directors, tell them your name and what reading or song you are performing. For instance, "Hi! My name is Katie and I will be singing 'Somewhere Over the Rainbow' from The Wizard of Oz."
Take a risk. Directors aren't looking for their own interpretation of a monologue or song, they are looking to see yours. They might not have the same vision, but they will see that you did something big and courageous with your audition and acting is all about taking risks.
Everyone who Auditions at LINX will be invited to an amazing adventure.
June 21, 2017
When working in the theater, I have always been known for being a part of everything; main stage shows, black box shows, acting, tech, directing, producing… Every element is challenging and rewarding for its own reasons - but some of the purest fun is in the fringe programs. Improv troupes, sketch troupes and mystery theater. These are the daring groups and some of the most experimental. They are also the fastest way to develop creativity and confidence - the bedrock of LINX Theater.
Troupes like LINX’s Mad Hatters and Mystery do just this. Mad Hatters is for the bold. As an improv troupe, there is no script. Players learn to live by their wits. They learn to trust their instincts and move fast. They also learn to rely on one another. They build confidence as a team, learning each other’s habits and turning it into comedy gold. Mystery Theater is incredibly unique since the show happens in multiple rooms at once. It is half scripted and half improvised. Imagine walking around a giant board game of Clue. You walk into one room, you witness one clue. Your friend in another, learned something different. The actors learn the control they have over the audience, leading them toward, or away, from the solution to the show.
I love every moment of a scripted show, but there is something unique about a show that throws the script away; in which actors leap into the abyss with only their wits as a parachute. These are the extreme forms of theater. Instead of the X-Games, they are the X-Shows. The actors thrive outside the norm and explore the fringe.
Explore the fun and challenge of acting on the fringe in Improv Troupe’s Mad Hatters or Mystery Theater Class.