The big question that every camper is wondering from day to day is, “What is tonight’s evening activity?” The theme of the evening activity, which engages all campers, is kept a secret each day until it is revealed in a counselor skit mid-day. I wanted to highlight a few evening activities that we did at Camp Catanese!
The first night we had a carnival night! This was planned purposefully in order to break the ice between campers. Since one of our main goals was to create lasting bonds and make sure that the “kids could be kids”, playing carnival games was a great start! It was a great first night to see campers within the same cabin looking for each other amongst the different games and including each other.
Pool Party Night
The next evening activity was Pool Party night! During this night, there was music playing for the campers to have fun and dance to in the pool. In addition, there were lots of volleyball games going on on the ASU volleyball outdoor courts. There was even basketball games available for those who didn’t want to swim. During this time, I was looking around the pool at all the campers and listening to all of them laughing, smiling and having fun. It was during this time that I started to get emotional because this image was the definition of “letting kids be kids.” This was their opportunity to let go of all their obligations at home and forget their worries. Here, the only thing they had to worry about was whether or not their dreams were big enough. There wasn’t a single student that was off by himself or herself alone. With constant love and attention from the staff, each camper felt like they truly belonged in the Camp Catanese environment.
Since many of our campers come from Latin heritages, we wanted to celebrate one of the Latin traditions of having a quinceañera dance! This was the night where we explained that it doesn’t matter where you come from or what your ethnic background is: we love you and want to celebrate you! That night, we showcased different dances from different regions: Lebanese Dabke, Mexican traditional dances, and Greek cultural dances. Having a dance was a great way for the brother and sister cabins to finally mesh and look/talk to each other! Of course, we also included the Cha-cha slide and other traditional awkward middle school dances!
Camp Catanese was one of the best camps I’ve ever attended because it truly exemplified all the values I believe in: allowing kids to be kids, believing in the future of these campers’ educations, and learning to be grateful for the life that you have. One of the main camp chants that was reiterated over and over again was “WE! ARE! THANKFUL!” Gratitude carries people far in life, and teaching young people to be grateful for their academic opportunities creates a long term love of learning. In addition, the chant reminds campers that no matter what is going on at home, at Camp Catanese, they can always be grateful for the trust and love of the staff, campers, and environment. Please watch this video for a taste of what Camp Catanese was like this past May!