The Excellence School Featured on 60 Minutes

Keewaydin Camps Partner with the Excellence School

The Excellence Boys Charter School of Brooklyn was recently featured in a 60 Minutes story about the Robin Hood Foundation of New York. Keewaydin connected with the school in 2012, enabling two scholars to attend Keewaydin Temagami last summer. Those boys’ experience, combined with a presentation by camp Director Bruce Ingersoll, helped cement a partnership between Keewaydin and the Excellence School. This summer, the partnership will enable five boys from the Excellence School to attend Keewaydin camps; three at Keewaydin Temagami and two at Keewaydin Dunmore.

Robin Hood

50 Things To Do Before You’re 11 3/4

There is nothing quite like getting outside after a long winter; the sun on your shoulders, the smell of freshly cut grass, the sound of birds singing. The British National Trust recently came out with a list of 50 Things To Do Before You’re 11 3/4. This list of family fun adventures is completely Keewaydin approved and are activities inherent to Keewaydin’s summer camp programs. But, since we want to encourage kids to get dirty, be silly and enjoy the wonders of the great outdoors year round we thought we’d share this list with you.

50 things to do before your 11

Earth Day Will Help Your Health

Celebrate Earth Day Everyday!

Recently a number of articles have surfaced publicizing research that indicates cognitive, physical and emotional advantages to spending time immersed in nature. Admittedly, it can be challenging to get outdoors everyday and perhaps sending your children out the back door is a thing of the past, with encroaching roads, disease carrying insects and a high priority placed on after school curricular activities. But, are our fears of mosquitoes and time spent on computers, i-pads and phones doing America’s children more harm than good? Startling research suggests so.

The average American child spends just 15 to 25 minutes playing outside each day, while spending nearly 7 and a half hours in front of a screen. Eighty percent of 5-year-olds are computer users. For most of human history, people spent their days outside, chasing down food, planting crops, and learning about Mother Nature. This time outdoors endowed people with Vitamin D from the sun, fitter physiques, healthier hearts, and lower stress levels. Even today these are ingredients to leading a happy and healthy life.  In less than a century, millions of people divorced themselves from nature, but at what cost?J.Stauffer @ Ojibway

Richard Louv’s 2005 book, “Last Child in the Woods” coined the term “nature deficit disorder” to describe the consequences when humans detach themselves from nature. Louv argued that the behavioral problems which seem to plague today’s youth could be caused by how little time children spend in the outdoors. Louv writes “kids who play outside are less likely to get sick, to be stressed or become aggressive and are more adaptable to life’s unpredictable turns.” In fact, studies show spending adequate time in nature may actually boost the immune system.[1]

Mary Brown, M.D., former member of the board of directors of The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) explains, in the past, the morbidities threatening children were primarily infectious disease, which have been reduced by the development of vaccines and technical advancements. “Today’s morbidities are much more complicated, but equally threatening to our children and grandchildren. These will take more than a parent, a pediatrician, a teacher, and a ‘village’ to solve.”[2]

Recent studies have shown the negative impact of stress on early brain development that can have lifelong effects on metal, physical and emotional health. Children’s brains are particularly sensitive to emotional, social, economic, and demographic stresses. The structure of children’s brains is permanently altered by these types of unfavorable childhood experiences.  Currently, 14 million children 2012-Keewaydin-1193and adolescents have some type of mental health disorder and suicide has become the leading cause of mortality in adolescents. But nature can HELP!

Spending time playing in the outdoors can lessen the impact of stresses on a child’s life and develop children’s imaginations and creativity. Countless pediatricians and researchers emphasize the importance of safe, unstructured play in developing happy, healthy children who will turn into happy, healthy adults ready to contribute to society. Positive experiences in nature have proven to have lasting effects on the development of self-esteem, independence, leadership, values, and willingness to try new things. By understanding mankind’s innate connection to the natural world and emphasizing the positive effects of spending time in nature we can combat our societal battle with depression, obesity, behavioral disorders, drug abuse and unhealthy risk taking.

So, this Earth Day, grab your kids and go outside, take a 15-minute walk or just sit and soak in that Vitamin-D; you might just be surprised about how good a little time in nature makes you and your children feel.

[1] Timothy Egan, “Nature-Deficit Disorder,” The New York Times, March 29, 2013, sec. Opinion.

[2] Mary Brown, M.D. , ” ‘Vitamin N’ and the American Academy of Pediatrics,” The New Nature Movement, February 2, 2012,”vitamin-n”-and-the-american-academy-of-pediatrics/.

Thought for the Day

Spring is in the air meaning we are one step closer to summer!  This is one thought for the day, by writer and environmentalist Sigurd F. Olson, all canoeists can appreciate. Photo by Lauren Sayer.

“There is magic in the feel of a paddle and the movement of a canoe, a magic compounded of distance, adventure, solitude and peace. They way of the canoe is the way of the wilderness and of a freedom almost forgotten, the open door to waterways of ages past and a way of life with profound and abiding satisfaction. “

Thought for the Day

Looking for an adventurous read?

In an age when regions of the Canadian North had hardly been discovered, Prentice G. Downes, a Harvard graduate and a teacher at the Belmont School outside of Boston, chose to travel alone by canoe to explore the Great Sleeping IslandBarren Lands. Sleeping Island: A Journey to the Edge of the Barrens, originally published in 1943, is an account of Downes’ canoe trip in northern Manitoba and the southern Northwest Territories in 1939.

In Sleeping Island, Downes describes a landscape and a people untouched by the modern world. His account captures the excitement of wilderness canoe travel, the enchantment of discovering new lands, and the deep connections Downes made with the people he met along the way. Downes was a very astute observer of native lifestyles and culture, as a result he was held in very high regard by the Cree of northern Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

The 2011 edition of Sleeping Island  has a detailed biographical introduction of Downes and extensive footnotes. The edition also features illustrations and maps from authentic sketches and mesmerizing photos of his adventures.

CanoeistsSleeping Island is a favorite book of Jason Pigeau, the Director of Facilities on Devil’s Island and an avid canoeist /outdoors man. The book is highly recommended by outdoors enthusiasts, scholars, and history buffs alike.

To order Sleeping Island or Downes’ Distant Summers contact McGahern Stewart Publishing at mcspublishing@gmail. To see some of the books’ photographs visit McGahern Stewart’s site!

Acclaimed Child Psychologist and Keewaydin Alumnus, Michael Thompson ‘61, Pens New Book

Michael Thompson’s new book will be in stores May 1, 2012!  Entitled Homesick and Happy: An insightful and powerful look at the magic of summer camp—and why it is so important for children to be away from home . . . if only for a little while, the book includes a chapter, “Passages,” highlighting Keewaydin Temagami’s 7 week trip to Hudson Bay, as well as interviews with campers and staff from all the camps.

In an age when it’s the rare child who walks to school on his own, the thought of sending your “little ones” off to sleep-away camp can be overwhelming. But parents’ first instinct—to shelter their offspring above all else—is actually depriving kids of the major developmental milestones that occur through letting them go—and watching them come back transformed.

In Homesick and Happy, renowned child psychologist Michael Thompson, PhD, shares a strong argument for, and a vital guide to this brief loosening of ties. A great champion of summer camp, he explains how camp ushers children into a thrilling world offering an environment that most of us at home cannot: an electronics-free zone, a multigenerational community, meaningful daily rituals like group meals and cabin clean-up, and a place where time simply slows down. In the buggy woods, icy swims, campfire sing-alongs, and daring adventures, children have emotionally significant and character-building experiences; they often grow in ways that surprise even themselves; they make lifelong memories and cherished friends. Thompson shows how children who are away from their parents can be both homesick and happy, scared and successful, anxious and exuberant. When kids go to camp—for a week, a month, or the whole summer—they can experience some of the greatest maturation of their lives, and return more independent, strong, and healthy.