About Dan

 

Dan Weir has been working in youth development & summer camp for over 20 years. He is a host on the CampHacker Podcast, volunteers at with American Camp Association NY-NJ & the New York State Camp Directors Association, and works at the YMCA of Long Island. He tweets at @danlovescamp.

 

 

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Tuesday
Jan182011

Quoted in Hudson Valley Magazine

Recently I was quoted in an article about Frost Valley YMCA in Hudson Valley Magazine's 2011 Summer Programs issue.  Here you go!

Frost Valley YMCA

Summer sleep-away camp holds a special place in the hearts and imaginations of many Americans. Even those who never attended have surely gotten the gist from movies like The Parent Trap, Camp Nowhere, or Little Darlings. In between arts and crafts and toasting marshmallows, there’s a lot of growing up that happens at summer camp, while the hijinks and heartbreaks of bunk wars and first crushes make for one-of-a-kind memories. Deep in the heart of the Catskills, Frost Valley YMCA has been providing these experiences to kids from the tristate area and abroad for more than 100 years.

As a YMCA camp, Frost Valley is based on shared principles of caring, honesty, respect, and responsibility, in addition to abiding by its own credo of community, diversity, inclusiveness, and stewardship. According to Director of Camping Services Dan Weir, besides hosting children from various socioeconomic, cultural, and educational backgrounds, the camp accepts those with developmental and learning disabilities, and with high-maintenance medical conditions. “We accept all kids,” he says, “and that creates a really nice environment.”

Roughly 2,300 kids passed through a Frost Valley summer program last year. Sessions offered include a girls-only equestrian camp, a residential farm camp, and a teen adventure program. The sleep-away camp — which entails separate programs for grades two through seven and grades eight through 10 — runs in four two-week sessions. “It can take several days to get adjusted, so two weeks allows three to five days to settle in and then the rest of the time just flies by,” says Weir. Despite the large number of campers, Frost Valley provides an intimate experience by separating kids into “villages” — communities of cabins which each house eight to 10 children and two counselors. “The cabin counselors do everything with the kids,” says Weir. “They are the mother, father, caretaker, best friend. This structure gives camp a family feel, and also makes sure the campers are being supervised adequately.”

Frost Valley offers a wide variety of activities, including animal-interaction lessons, trail building, kayaking, swimming, hiking, and other sports. “We have something for every type of child,” says Weir, noting that there are also special music or theater endeavors. “The power of the residential camp experience is that you get to be what you want to be. You may feel pigeonholed at home, but you can start from scratch at camp.”

More than 70 percent of both staff and campers return to Frost Valley year after year, a statistic Weir happily touts. “There are amazing social skills that happen here. Kids make really strong, lifelong friendships,” Weir says. And he surely knows what he’s talking about. After all, he says, “I met my wife here.”

Monday
Oct112010

What!?! The Internet is not evil?

Resources for the session "What!?! The Internet is not evil?"

Kaiser Family Foundation – "Generation M: Media in the lives of 8 to 18 year olds"
Overview - http://www.kff.org/entmedia/mh012010pkg.cfm
Full Report - http://www.kff.org/entmedia/upload/8010.pdf

NYTimes - “If your Kids Are Awake, They’re Probably Online”
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/20/education/20wired.html

Jay Maynard "Tron Guy" - http://www.tronguy.net/

Toddlers even have a presence -  http://mashable.com/2010/10/07/toddlers-online-presence/

Thursday
May062010

An elevator speech that works.

For years I've been hearing from industry leaders like Gary Forster that a summer camp director needs to have a great elevator speech. 

The term "elevator speech" or "elevator pitch" refers to a concise and compelling description of a product (in this case summer camp).  Roughly in a minute, a director wants to be able to convey to a stranger the magic, purpose, and need for a child to go to summer camp.  In a field that is based so heavily on having a positive relationship and trust with parents, it is key that your speech is dialed in to your audience.

BusinessWeek wrote a great article on "The Perfect (Elevator) Pitch" but it is missing something.  It is missing the important question "Why?".

This question is answered in the TED Talk by Simon Sinek. Simon's lecture featured below is is titled "How great leaders inspire action."  His examples of Apple, TiVo and other tech companies are great comparisons to the differences in a camp directors' elevator speeches. 

In a minute, summer camp professionals need to get past their bells and whistles (waterfront inflatibles, climbing towers) and answer the question "Why?".  Why should my child go to your camp? Why should I trust you with my child?  Why should I pay you $1500 to do what my town recreation program will do for a quarter of the price? 

If you can't answer any of these questions, it's time to re-think your speech.  Parents don't care how much you've spent on a water slide or an ATV.  They care about the impact your camp is going to have on their child's life.

Tuesday
Mar092010

Interview with Wheaton Griffin

At the Northeast YMCA Camp Conference, I had the chance to interview Wheaton Griffin.  Wheaton is the Executive Director of the New York YMCA Camp (Formerly Camp Talcott, McAlister, & Greenkill).  When he transitioned from Camp Cosby to New York YMCA Camp he found a strong culture of bullying.  With Joel Haber's help Wheaton was able to turn around the culture of the camp in one summer.  

Take a listen to his story below or right click and download the file here.  The interview was just over 11 minutes long.

Tuesday
Mar092010

Featured post "Recommended Book: 'Bullyproof your Child for Life'" on CampNation

I just wrote a post on the CampNation blog about why every camp director should read Joel Haber's "Bullyproof Your Child for Life: Protect Your Child from Teasing, Taunting, and Bullying for Good."

It's a great read for all camp staff as well as parents.

Click here to check it out.  Click here to see the book on Amazon.

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