In Photos: Camp Skillz

Our fifth year of Camp Skillz is in the books!  Each year, we have been blessed to expand the variety of skill-building activities we are able to offer to our campers.  From bicycle repair to woodworking to cooking, and everything in between, these kids are learning practical, valuable skills at a young age.  And the best part - every activity incorporates a lesson in character. Take a few minutes to enjoy some of the moments we captured from a dynamic summer captioned by Old Hickory Camp Director Craig Duffy!  

Camper V.S. Counselor games are always epic. Esperanza Davis, the last camper remaining, faces great odds as she fires a dodgeball at the camp coordinator. High pressure games like this can surface Espy’s determination and yield a confidence that she never knew existed.

Volunteers like World Class Magician Stephen Bargatze make the campers feel loved and special on a whole other level by sharing their time, talents, energy, and unforgettable performances. 

Development is inevitable. What a child develops into is another question. With adults who care, development can be steered to promote healthy functioning children who are not stunted by idle summers and unsupervised curiosity. She is neither idle nor unsupervised, and she looks pretty darn happy about that.

You’d be mistaken to think her joy was because of the cool water on a hot day. Coordinator Stefanie Price smiles because she knows that just outside the dunk tank, her campers are safe, feel loved, and are hysterically laughing. That is the job of a Camp Skillz coordinator, and they don’t smile until that job is done.

You’d be mistaken to think her joy was because of the cool water on a hot day. Coordinator Stefanie Price smiles because she knows that just outside the dunk tank, her campers are safe, feel loved, and are hysterically laughing. That is the job of a Camp Skillz coordinator, and they don’t smile until that job is done.

What a silly game, but what a shared experience as well. The first thing that happens when the kids are finished is the laughter from the conversations about the experience. The donut game works as mortar for the forming relationships of the campers. The shared experience of something so silly has the components of a relational bonding agent. “Remember when we ate those donuts from the strings at camp?!”

A simple pose that depicts friendship. The development of friendship is a major goal of camp. We recognize that some of the best things about camp aren’t the games or the skills learned but the friendships that will outlive the camp. We believe a good camp is one that is a catalyst for awesome friendships to blossom.

Rafael Reyes demonstrates the power of enthusiasm. Enthusiasm extinguishes all traces of apathy which can steal the youth’s ability to engage and exert real effort towards an obstacle. Youth are constantly learning how to approach challenge, and thankfully they have counselors like Rafael who can model enthusiasm and belief.

The property at our Old Hickory site is always subject to the educational endeavors of our youth. Justice Garner and Jones Warren work to level off a section of land for the new block built fire pit. The land is to be used, and in this case it was to teach simple masonry skills for the development of practical wisdom for our campers. That’s real dirt, real blocks, real tools, and they are really doing all the work to create.

The property at our Old Hickory site is always subject to the educational endeavors of our youth. Justice Garner and Jones Warren work to level off a section of land for the new block built fire pit. The land is to be used, and in this case it was to teach simple masonry skills for the development of practical wisdom for our campers. That’s real dirt, real blocks, real tools, and they are really doing all the work to create.

The boys loved the challenge of figuring out how to move this mulch and get it dumped into a nearby brush pile. Not a single one of them is able to move this pile on their own.  They need one another, and knowing that we need one another is a great lesson. Life is heavy without the strength and support of your friends, and here in these small activities they are tutored into a healthy mindset - to depend on one another is strength not weakness.

You can’t see it, but these girls just performed their own cheer in front of the entire camp.  The best part is that the girls are 8-9 years old! Camp Skillz encourages campers to perform live dance and drama because we must all know how to express ourselves before our peers without crumbling in fear of judgment.

Malachi Aaseby is one of the most hands-on learners in camp, and there’s no wonder why he gets struck with awe in an event called “fix it”. Campers get handed an unconstructed item like a bike, a wheel barrow, or a fan, and they race against other teams to put it back together without the instructions. Talk about your logical, kinesthetic, and interpersonal intelligences exploding with joy and excitement. Camp Skillz events have to be fun (of course), but they must also be educational and contribute to skill development. “Fix it” was a huge success this summer on many levels.

It’s a silly picture, but also really impressive. Why impressive? Go ahead and count the kids. Now count the facilitators and counselors. What you are seeing here is a picture of the attention these kids are receiving. The ratio is 2:1. Ratios of 2:1 at day camps like this are unheard of, especially when you consider the economic disadvantage of these campers. They are getting almost individualized attention throughout the summer, and that’s impressive.

It’s a silly picture, but also really impressive. Why impressive? Go ahead and count the kids. Now count the facilitators and counselors. What you are seeing here is a picture of the attention these kids are receiving. The ratio is 2:1. Ratios of 2:1 at day camps like this are unheard of, especially when you consider the economic disadvantage of these campers. They are getting almost individualized attention throughout the summer, and that’s impressive.