Calling All Boat Partners To Tell Your Story!

Have a funny, dramatic, or poetic story of your camp boat partner experience?

Share your story and it may be featured in the upcoming Northwest Wind!

Looking for memories, anecdotes, and photos from various decades to be remembered for many years to come!

Share here or e-mail [email protected]


Celebrate with Keewaydin in NYC

You are cordially invited to attend 

The 2013 Keewaydin Alumni Reception

 Highlighted by Presentation of the Keewaydin Service Award to

~ John F. “Jeff” Schneider ~

Monday, October 21, 2013 6-8 p.m.
Cocktails, Hors d’oeuvres and Keewaydin Cheer
The Roger Smith Hotel
501 Lexington Ave (Lexington and 47th St.)
New York, NY 10017

Attire: Business Casual 

Please RSVP to Keewaydin prior to October 11th.

[email protected] or 802.352.4247

Advice For A “Homesick” Parent

A recent article in The Atlantic gives some wonderful advice for parents who
are feeling “homesick” for their child.  

A Summer Camp Lesson: Good-bye, and Go Away,
Thank You Very Much

Dropping a kid off for camp can test a parent’s resolve. But standing back to let a child develop autonomy is one of the most important things a parent can do.
By Jessica Lahey

Three years ago, when he was eleven, my son Ben set down a very specific parental code of conduct we’d be expected to follow at summer camp drop-off. We could say our goodbyes at home, but once we arrived at camp, any displays of affection, attempts to make his bed, arrange his things, or force premature familiarity with his cabin mates would be strictly prohibited. We could hang around during registration, watch while they check him for lice, help him lug his bags to his cabin, and shake hands with his counselor, but after that, our parental duties were complete. We were expected to say goodbye, and go away, thank you very much.

My husband was taken aback by Ben’s request, but I was not. I totally understood his yearning for independence. I went to camp as a child, and as much as I adored my parents, I, too, looked forward to the autonomy I found during those glorious summer months away from home. I missed my parents, of course, but in their absence, I passed my swim test, dove off the high dive, ran my first 5k, spent three nights alone in a dark forest, and shared my first kiss.

The fact that Ben is eager to watch me walk away from him is a sign of strength — both of our bond, and of his sense of self. According to psychologist Michael Thompson, childhood requires an endpoint, and it’s a parent’s job to raise children who can leave, children secure enough to turn away from the safety of a parents’ embrace and look toward the adventures and challenges to be found beyond.

In his book Homesick and Happy: How Time Away from Parents Can Help a Child GrowThompson writes,

…in the final analysis, there are things we cannot do for our children, no matter how much we might want to. In order to successfully accomplish these tasks, to grow in the ways they need to grow, children have to do it on their own, and usually away from their parents, sometimes overnight, sometimes for days or weeks or even months.

He goes on to list the eight things parents cannot do for their children, no matter how desperate we are to do so:

1. We cannot make our children happy.

2. We cannot give our children high self-esteem.

3. We cannot make friendships for our children or micro-manage their friendships.

4. We cannot successfully double as our child’s agent, manager, and coach.

5. We cannot create the “second family” for which our child yearns in order to facilitate his or her own growth.

6. It is increasingly apparent that we parents cannot compete with or limit our children’s total immersion in the online, digital, and social media realms.

7. We cannot keep our children perfectly safe, but we can drive them crazy trying.

8. We cannot make our children independent.

Thompson’s list of developmental milestones — critical, essential milestones every child is going to have to navigate — is terrain our children must traverse on their own, and parents who believe they can span those uncomfortable gaps with lovingly made bridges woven of organic hemp and allergen-free twine are kidding themselves. Despite all our parental worries, these gaps are not deep, dark, places of danger where there be dragons and creepy Stephen King clowns; they are places of wonder, filled with adventure, and excitement, and the promise of untold successes. If we allow our children to head out into these uncharted territories on their own, they will get there and back again, and when they return to us, ready to tell their tales of adventure, they will be much more competent and capable human beings.

So when I drove my son to camp today, we did not have to review his rules. He knew I would remember and honor them. We parked, he was checked for lice, I met his counselor, and while the other parents moved about the cabin, making their children’s beds and suggesting where to store their flashlights and extra sunscreen, I quickly took my leave with a wave and a good-bye.

On the way back to the car, my younger son slipped his hand into mine, something he hardly ever does anymore.

“I think I’d like to come to camp next year,” he said.

“Really?” I said, picturing him running around among these hulking adolescents.

“Yep,” he nodded. “I think I’ll be big enough next year.”

And with that, he let go of my hand and ran ahead to gather up a pile of pine needles he’d spotted just off the path. As I watched him attempt to stuff two handfuls of the needles into his pockets, I realized that next year, he’d be almost as old as his brother was the first year he went to camp. So just maybe, if I do my job right, he will be big enough next year. Big enough to want me to say goodbye, and go away, thank you very much.

This article available online at:

Passage into Manhood

The Boston Globe

Passage into Manhood

By Michael Thompson  |  July 26, 2005

As printed in The Boston Globe, July 26, 2005. Re-printed with permission from the author. 

THE BOY sitting next to me on the plane from Toronto to North Bay was 17 years old, a rising high school senior with a slight beard. He had the misfortune to sit next to a child psychologist, a so-called expert on boys, who would pester him with questions for the entire trip about how he was spending his summer, and why. ”This is kind of like a final exam,” he observed, trying to get me to relent, but I wouldn’t let go.

After he had gamely answered a number of my questions about the summer camp to which he was headed, I sprang the big one on him, the question I have asked many boys his age. ”Do you consider yourself to be a man?”

”Yes,” he replied immediately. Then he caught himself, hesitating momentarily before declaring with conviction: Well, no. But I will be in August!”

What could a 17-year-old boy do between the last week of June and August that he could anticipate would make him a man? American culture doesn’t have any universal ritual that sees a boy through that psychologically difficult passage from boyhood to manhood. Many boys, actually, almost every boy, struggles with what it means to become a man. Boys (or young men, if you prefer) of 17, 19, and into their early 20s wrestle with the riddle: What test do I have to pass to become a man, and who will be able to recognize that I have reached that point? My young companion thought he had found an answer.

It turned out that he was going to embark the next morning on a 50-day canoeing trip that would take him and nine companions through lakes, rivers, rapids, mud, and ferocious mosquitoes, all the way up to Hudson’s Bay, a distance of 600 miles. He and his friends had been preparing for this by developing wilderness skills for the last four years at their camp. They would carry all of their own food, they would take risks, and they would suffer. Toward the end of their journey they would see the Northern lights and would visit an Inuit settlement. They might see moose and wolves, but, he told me, they were not going to be tourists. ”This isn’t about seeing wild animals,” he asserted.

What was his definition of manhood? ”It’s taking responsibility,” he said. ”At the end of the day, it’s taking responsibility and taking things you’ve learned from others and creating your own self.

”It’s about finishing a grueling portage,” he said, ”It’s about doing work and getting a result.”

Didn’t he get that from school and varsity athletics? No. Though he did well in school and had bright college prospects, school didn’t address his hunger to be a man, not even playing sports. ”After sports you go home, take a shower, and watch TV.” When he was canoe tripping, he felt as if he made a sustained effort that connected him to all the men who had canoed before him at that camp for more than 100 years.

Could he find the experience he sought among his friends back home? What were they doing this summer? ”Hanging out. They’re playing video games,” he said. They didn’t get it. ”It’s frustrating. You try to explain to them how great it is. You tell them about paddling all day, and cooking your own food, about the mosquitoes, and carrying a wood canoe, and they say, ‘What, are you crazy?’ “

This young about-to-be man described his father as a ”good guy,” his mother as a hardworking professional, and his step-father as financially successful, but none of them seemed to hold the key to helping him become a man. American culture has no universal ritual for helping boys move from boyhood to manhood. Jewish boys have their bar mitzvahs, Mormon boys have their year of missionary service, other boys sign up for the military. Yet every boy yearns to be a man, and traditional societies always took boys away from their parents to pass an initiation rite. We no longer have such rituals, but boys still wonder: What is the test, where do I find it, how do I pass it, and who will recognize that moment when I pass from boyhood to manhood? We fail to provide a meaningful, challenging path that speaks to the souls of a majority of boys.

The key to his manhood lay with the counselors who accompany him on the journey and with his companions whose lives he would protect and who would, in turn, look out for him. Past the rain, the bugs, the smelling bad, he would discover his manhood in community and in the kind of challenge that only nature offers up.

Our plane journey over, I wished him luck. And then I couldn’t get our conversation out of my mind. While a demanding canoe trip is not for every boy, I’m certain that every boy is searching for a test. You can find the test by taking on anything that requires commitment and courage. However, there is something that happens out-of-doors that strips you down to the essentials: safety, companionship, a shared sense of mission. You set aside the busyness and crap of daily life, and then you can think about what it actually means to be a man.

Michael_Thompson_BioMichael Thompson is the author of Homesick and Happy: How Time Away From Parents Can Help a Child Grow, The Pressured Child: Helping Your Child to Achieve Success in School and in Life and co-author of Raising Cain: Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys.

Michael wrote this article following his trip to Keewaydin Temagami with the group of boys making a seven week journey via canoe to Hudson Bay ( the trip known as Section A.) Michael has been Keewaydin’s consulting psychologist for the past twelve years and facilitates workshops for the staff at both Keewaydin Temagami and Keewaydin Dunmore each summer. Michael attended Keewaydin Temagami in the 1960s.

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/.

12 Tips For Parents Sending Their Child To Camp

Inspired by a recent article in Parent Magazine, these are 12 tips designed to help parents and their child prepare for the summer at one of Keewaydin’s camps.

1. Follow the Packing List

This is pretty easy. The camp Directors have prepared a comprehensive packing list  for your review. Study the list carefully to make sure your child has everything he or she needs.

2. Book Your Doctor Visit ASAP

Medical forms are an important tool for keeping your child healthy at camp. Keewaydin requires a physical within the past 12 months. So if your child needs a physical before camp this summer,  make sure to get them  in before your local doctor’s office gets booked up.

3. Label, Label, Label

Label EVERYTHING with your child’s name. This is the best and only way to assure your child doesn’t lose their belongings. Keewaydin families often use the clothing label company Stuck on You for iron and stick on labels.

4. Provide a Sneak Peek

 Help your child to maximize their camp experience by explaining to them what sort of  accommodations they can expect at camp. Keewaydin’s website has photos and maps of each camp that can help your child feel ready and excited for the summer.

5. Do a Test Run

Planning a sleepover at a friend’s can help your child remember they can have fun, thrive and survive without you. If possible, arrange a night when they can camp in the backyard or a day when the family can go for a paddle.  This could help them to see the outdoors as fun and exciting rather than scary.

6. Make it Easier to Make Friends

One of the things kids are often worried about  is if they’ll make friends at camp. Of course, camp is the perfect place to make new friends, but sending them with tools to break the ice can help too. While staff will facilitate icebreakers and team building games it never hurts for kids to  have their own cache of tricks. Cards, travel games, crosswords and magazines are all great ways for friendships to develop organically.

7. Prepare for Homesickness

Most kids feel at least a little bit of homesickness at some point during the summer, and that is normal. Keewaydin staff  at each of the camps are trained by the renowned child psychologist Michael Thompson, who teaches them all sorts of tools to help kids overcome their homesickness. Preparing your son or daughter by reminding them that homesickness is a totally normal emotion everyone experiences can be helpful. If you are worried about your child at camp or have a case of “kidsickness” pick up the book Homesick and Happy: How Time Away From Parents Can Help a Child Grow  by Michael Thompson. Thompson’s book is a vital guide to helping parents with this brief loosening of ties.

8. Stay in Touch the Right Way

Kids LOVE getting letters at camp! But remember letters from home can also bring up small bouts of homesickness. Keep letters light and happy, avoiding descriptions of events they may have missed out on or anything overly emotional.

9. Don’t Panic

Keewaydin will periodically post pictures to the website. If you don’t see your child’s photo posted everyday or in every posting try not to panic. Keewaydin’s camps are busy places in the summer and our staff couldn’t possibly get the perfect shot of every kid each time photos are taken and  posted. To see photo’s of your child’s personal camp experience send them with a digital or disposable camera, that way you can relive your child’s fondest memories with them at the end of camp!

10. Don’t Redecorate

 While your child is away for the summer they will have a blast, but when it’s time to go home they want to go home. Transitioning from camp to “real life” can be challenging and big surprises can make this transition more challenging.

11. Be Prepared to Be Surprised

 A summer at Keewaydin is a life-changing experience.  Be prepared for your child to have 100 stories to share and new skills to show you. Many parents also notice their children develop a greater sense of confidence and independence while away at camp.

12. Warning: There May Be “Campsickness”

Leaving the camp community behind can make children feel sad or bored. To help your child with this transition encourage them to connect with camp friends, look through camp photos, and enjoy the things they could not while at camp. Once your child is rested keeping them busy will help fend-off “campsickness”. Ice cream and the summer blockbuster are known to send post-camp blues running.

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