March 17, 2010
In this era of multi-tasking, procrastinating, lack of time, and extreme work loads, what is the ideal way to improve mental health? Ever consider a stress free family vacation? I’m not talking about a change of scenery where the computer is on the lap and the blackberry to the ear, checking in with the office every hour on the hour. Not the vacation where grocery shopping, cooking three meals a day, and clean up takes up several hours each day. Nor time off spent planning activities or day trips to keep the family happy and active. With more American workers putting in more time on the job, does letting someone else handle the details of a perfect vacation sound to good to be true?
All you need to determine is what week your family wants to get away and with one phone call or click of your mouse someone else will multi-task for you. Food? Check. Accommodations? Check. Activities for yourself, your spouse, and your children? Check, check, check! Skeptical? Then you have never heard of the concept of family camp.
The notion of attending camp as a family has grown in popularity over the past decade as adults find that the camp experience and rediscovering an enthusiasm for nature and lakeside fun is no longer just for kids. The American Camp Association (ACA), which accredits camps and represents about a quarter of the industry, notes a 24 percent increase in family camps over the past few years proving it’s not necessary to go to Yosemite to get an outdoor experience. There are plenty of options, in every part of the country.
At Family Camp, families have the time to create memories together, not just between parents and children, but with other families, too. Grown-ups spend time with the same group, eating, going on morning walks, taking yoga classes, or sharing in a happy hour tasting local beer and cheeses. Kids enjoy impromptu dive contests off the floating dock, the opportunity to milk a cow for the first time, and free time spent with new friends shooting baskets, hula-hooping, and challenging each other in foosball. Family kickball games and sunset canoe rides give families time together that they might not experience at home. All this and more allows the entire camp to become an extended family of sorts for the week.
David Brunner, director at Medomak Family Camp in Washington, Maine, explains that there is a great pull for families to "come to camp and let us plan the meals, activities and a few surprises each week." Friendship, along with the activities and natural setting, is what gives Medomak Camp up to a 50 percent retention rate with campers, Brunner says. "The best ambassadors for family camp are our campers themselves."
Like many other programs around the country, there is a worry free mentality that takes over the families who vacation at Medomak. Because a chef prepares three healthy, delicious meals each day and staff plans a variety of daily activities, campers have more time to relax and unwind. According to Ralph Ringer of Baltimore, MD, “My family looks forward to camp each summer. Medomak’s planning and attention to detail makes this the most stress free vacation we have ever taken.” At family camp, families love the idea that children have a consistent place to anchor their summer memories in a setting that encourages them to become more independent. They’ll have the time of their lives while allowing their parents to share in the fun.
With stress in your everyday life why not rely on someone else to plan ahead so you have an entire week to unplug, unwind, and relax. Imagine hearing your children’s laughter, roasting marshmallows around the campfire, and seeing your children accomplish something they never imagined. It’s the best healthcare you’ll ever invest in!
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Although I have visited Medomak many times, informally, it is wonderful to be at family camp this week. So many memories of so many people and experiences are rejuvenated on each visit. I am so grateful for what Medomak was and is becoming.