Home Time is the term we use to describe the time a group spends together outside of Activity Time. It's a chance to get to know all of the kids in your group and to define the culture of your group. Home Time happens in the morning from drop-off up until the first activity begins, at Snack Times, at Lunch Time and into dismissal. It is important that Home Time be considered just as carefully as Activity Time as kids are still learning, maybe more so, about how to interact appropriately with one another and how to navigate the challenges of group dynamics. To think of Home Time as unimportant or a break (for counselors) is a mistake.
Because we offer choices to campers every period of every day, groups do not spend much time together as a unit other than snacktime and lunchtime. We created Family Time to balance that out. This is time for the group to be together. An activity is planned by the counselors in the group that emphasizes socialization and community in a fun setting. The activity is run by the Group Counselors.
This is a time for not only your group, but other groups in the same part of camp to be together. Lower Camp and Middle Camp participate in this. (Upper Camp has a Family Reunion every week when they go to the beach. Mini Camp gets together on Wednesdays for Adventure Time.) A positive, fun large group activity is planned by staff in those groups in collaboration with one another.
SNACK TIME/WATER BREAK
In between periods groups are given time to re-energize. Small healthy snacks and something to drink are given and campers have a few minutes of free time. Being engaged with campers is very important during this time and should be planned and thought about just as much as activity time.
At 12:00 for Mini Camp (Belugas and Sea Robins) and 12:30 for all other groups campers eat lunch. Campers enjoy their lunch in an area near their group. Counselors should share this time with their campers and eat with them. After eating, campers have some time for themselves. Counselors should be engaged with, or at least supervising, campers throughout this time. Dismissal and the beginning of Aftercamp make this a critical time to be organized. In addition to the fact that unstructured time tends to be when problems arise (because campers are not engaged in an activity), lunchtime is also when parents are arriving to pick up their children. We know you work hard all day long. But the only impression parents have of you is the impression you make at pickup and drop off time. That perception matters for you and it matters for Hayground. Ask yourself, who’s watching the perimeter? What’s to prevent a camper from wandering off? Who’s paying attention to the conversation? Who’s ensuring that campers clean up after themselves? If every group has solid answers to these questions, lunch should be a relaxing time for campers.
HOW AND WHEN DO COUNSELORS GET LUNCH AND EAT IT?
Counselors should arrange to have lunch with campers. Bringing lunch works best. If lunch needs to be purchased, every effort should be made to minimize the number of staff members leaving camp, and lunch time should not be seen as an extended break. Group cooperative lunches are great and grow a feeling of community enjoyed by everyone. (Just ask the Otters and Sea Lions!)
SPECIALTY COUNSELOR EXPECTATIONS DURING HOME TIME
Specialty Counselors do not have campers in between periods or at lunch. These counselors will often have to break down an activity or set up for a new one. Aside from those responsibilities, Speciality Counselors are expected to be engaged with campers and can be asked to help out groups during these times. Each Specialty Counselor will be assigned an Adopted Group. Specialty Counselors should take direction from their Coordinator with regard to when to join their Adopted Group.