Posted by: Ofer Aronskind | August 10, 2014

Going to Summer Camp

With our trunks almost completely packed and our Target and Wal-Mart runs behind us, my boys and I are getting into camp mindset. In a few days they’ll be off on those buses heading up north into the countryside for two months of freedom from dad. I remember those summers fondly and feel very lucky to be able to give my kids that same experience. The time apart gives them the independence they crave and need and at the same time affords me some alone time to breath and catch up on life. I can also take great comfort in knowing that the distance between us will only make us closer when we see each other again on visiting day.

As a kid I lived all year for my two months away in the Berkshires. I loved the smell of the place after a rainstorm. I loved the feel of the cold lake water on me as I took a running start and jumped in. I loved my camp friends and to this day stay in touch with many of them. The raids on girls’ camp, mud sliding, the soccer games and canoe trips — those are all part of my childhood memories that will be with me forever. And it is those same adventures that I write about in my books Summer Sleep Away and its sequel That Same Summer. I wanted to capture those moments in time and preserve them forever on paper and as my memory begins to fade and those childhood years grow ever more distant, I take much comfort in knowing that that part of my life still lies between the pages of my books.

I wish my kids a great summer as I wave goodbye to them when they board the bus. I turn my head and wipe my sleeve across my face — but not because I am sad…I am happy for them to go capture their own summertime memories.

Posted by: Ofer Aronskind | August 2, 2014

Visiting My Kids at Camp

So I eagerly await visiting day at my boys’ camp. I gather up all their junk food requests (gummy bears, doritos, sour patch kids…all the basic food groups) and head up north to visit them. I greet them with outstretched arms…in return I get lukewarm receptions (hey, their 14…it’s not cool to show emotion…especially in front of their bunkmates) and a reminder…”did you get what we asked for?” Yes I tell them as they peel me off them and squirm away from my bear hug.

We walk around camp and they grudgingly introduce me to their counselors and friends. I get the distinct impression they’re not in love with what I’m wearing (my shorts or shirt or something…maybe its my open-toe sandals, who knows??)…maybe I embarrass them. They tell me they want to be taken out of camp so I sign them out and we head into town for pizza. While there we also pick up some stuff they need at the Rite Aid … lots of deodorant and colgnes…God knows whats going on in that camp after hours. We also pick up a pair of haircut scissors because they want me to give them trims (if I may say so myself…I do a pretty good job). Back in camp we find a quiet spot, set up a chair and mirror, they wrap towels around them and I give them each a haricut. People are walking by and pointing (maybe even laughing). But the joke’s on them because I’m also getting requests from parents and grandparents if I could cut their kids’ hair. I respectfully decline but make sure to point out my talents to my kids.

We then go to the camp office so I can sign them up for next summer (and get the early bird discount, of course) …. so we can do it all again. The ride home is bittersweet but relaxing…..ahhh the joys of summer camp.

Posted by: Ofer Aronskind | July 19, 2014

Running a Summer Camp

I recently read an article in the New York Times about a family that runs a couple of sleep-away camps in Pennsylvania. The article featured Mickey Black and spoke of the several generations of his family that started the camp and continues to run it through today. The story struck a chord with me because my own family ran a sleep-away camp in the Berkshires many years ago. I was so moved by the article I decided to send Mr. Black copies of my first two books — Summer Sleep-Away and That Same Summer — which are fictionalized accounts of my experiences at summer camp.

From what I read in the article, Mr. Black has about 900 campers. Our camp had about 150. I know what it takes to run a camp — the demands, the stress, the kids. Mickey has all we had multiplied by six. Yet, two days after I mailed out the books I got a call from Mickey Black thanking me. Telling me how excited he was to read them. With all he had going on, he took the time to call a perfect stranger and say thanks. what a mensch. You see what years of sleep-away camp can teach a kid.

Posted by: Ofer Aronskind | June 24, 2014

Making Summertime Memories

With our trunks almost completely packed and our Target and Wal-Mart runs behind us, my boys and I are getting into camp mindset. In a few days they’ll be off on those buses heading up north into the countryside for two months of freedom from dad. I remember those summers fondly and feel very lucky to be able to give my kids that same experience. The time apart gives them the independence they crave and need and at the same time affords me some alone time to breath and catch up on life. I can also take great comfort in knowing that the distance between us will only make us closer when we see each other again on visiting day.

As a kid I lived all year for my two months away in the Berkshires. I loved the smell of the place after a rainstorm. I loved the feel of the cold lake water on me as I took a running start and jumped in. I loved my camp friends and to this day stay in touch with many of them. The raids on girls’ camp, mud sliding, the soccer games and canoe trips — those are all part of my childhood memories that will be with me forever. And it is those same adventures that I write about in my books Summer Sleep-Away and its sequel That Same Summer. I wanted to capture those moments in time and preserve them forever on paper and as my memory begins to fade and those childhood years grow ever more distant, I take much comfort in knowing that that part of my life still lies between the pages of my books.

I wish my kids a great summer as I wave goodbye to them when they board the bus. I turn my head and wipe my sleeve across my face — but not because I am sad…I am happy for them to go capture their own summertime memories.

Posted by: Ofer Aronskind | March 19, 2014

TV Interview with Ofer Aronskind

Hello, my name is Ofer Aronskind; I am the owner of this blog, a single dad, and the author of multiple teen adventure books. I recently did an interview in which I discussed my writing, parenting, upbringing… and I wanted to take a minute to share this with you. If you have any questions about my books or would like to interview me or have me be a guest speaker (anywhere in the NJ/NYC area) please leave a comment below and I will get back to you. Comments that contain private contact information will not be published. If you have any questions/comments about this interview you are welcome to post them here as well.

Posted by: Ofer Aronskind | March 10, 2014

Best Summer Camp for your Child

This guest post was written by Lance Williams

 

 

Lance Williams is what some might call H.A.D.D. (Hobby Attention Deficit Disorder) He loves everything from rock climbing and snowboarding to building websites and reading books. He has dreams of becoming a Las Vegas Bankruptcy Attorney.

Sending your child or children away to summer camp can be worrisome, making the right decision about what camp to select will make all the difference in your level of concern while they are away. Make sure to do the appropriate research to assure that you are making the right choice for you and your child(ren). Here are some guidelines to follow as you search for the perfect place for your children to make a summer full of memories. Due to time constraints at your job, for instance if you are an attorney, most of this research can be done by an assistant.

Credentials

Ask for the experience and credentials for all those that manage and instruct at the camp. Along with this you will want to know how long they have been in business and what their mission statement is. Some summer camps have a specific theme. It will be important to know if this theme fits in with your lifestyle and standards.

Recommendations

Begin with friends and family who may have sent their children to summer camp and ask if they were happy with their experience, if so inquire if they would recommend attending again. Once you have narrowed down your search to two or three camps, consult with the advisors and ask to speak to former families who have attended. If you can speak to someone who has attended in the last year it would be best. Find out what they liked about their experience and what they didn’t.

Location

Do you prefer a camp that is close to your home or would you rather have your child(ren) experience a different geographic location? The location you decide on will have an impact on the price you pay for travel so it is helpful to determine your budget before determining the location.

Price

When comparing camps, look at a spreadsheet of the activities offered at each one. You may be paying more at a camp that offers activities that better suit your needs, so spending the extra money will be worth it. On the other hand if money is tight you may opt for the least expensive route.

Special Needs

Does your child have special needs that need to be considered? Will the staff have adequate training to deal with these special needs? Will you need to travel to camp from time to time to meet these needs? All of these questions are important to bring up with the counselors and other advisors that you meet with before making a decision.

Posted by: Ofer Aronskind | July 19, 2013

Visiting Day at Camp

Today was visiting day up at my kids’ summer camp. I hadn’t seen my boys in three weeks. What’s three weeks? Nothing, right? But when I first laid eyes on them I couldn’t believe they already looked different. Can’t really put my finger on what it was but they looked different. Maybe a little taller. Maybe leaner and a bit more maturity in the face. Couldn’t really tell what it was, but three weeks had done something to them. The way they spoke, their voices, the intonation of their sentences, the confidence level—something about those kids had changed. Had moved along just a couple more inches on the path to manhood.

Then of course I thought about myself and my parents who I brought along. How were we aging I wondered. Did we look different to my boys in those three weeks we’d been apart. I lost weight. I was very proud of it, but they did not notice. We had lunch, went into town and then came back and jumped in the lake. We swam, we took out a sailboat and when they went to put on their orange life preserver it hit me like a ton of bricks. The tell-tale sign of their maturing that had eluded me before — under their armpits, both of them, emerging little forests of hair growth.

Posted by: Ofer Aronskind | May 12, 2013

Summer Sleep Away Camp clothes

I love when the camps send the parents the clothing list. If this wasn’t my umpteenth summer of sending my kids away I might actually consider buying all that stuff. Four pajamas, three pillow cases, eight bathing suits, two ponchos (who the heck still wears ponchos??), a couple of nice outfits for the banquet. The list goes on and on. Stop. Think about it for a minute. This is sleep-away camp–the arch enemy of new clothing. Once the clothes go in the camp laundry service there’s only two routes they come back by–lost forever in camp clothing never never land or if you’re lucky (or unlucky, however you view it) the clothes do actually find their way back to your camper but now the whites are pink, they’ve shrunk two sizes and they’re wrinkled beyond recognition. Given this fact, you want to send your kid to camp with his worst clothes. Nothing new, just the worst stuff in his closet. Let the camp laundry service lose it, let it come back pink and crumpled—who cares. Heck, don’t even bother sewing name labels into the clothes.

Posted by: Ofer Aronskind | April 23, 2013

Getting ready for Sleep-away camp

With summer camp only a couple of months away, I am doing a mental countdown on how many more lunches and dinners I have to prepare. Lunches–not so bad, 15 minutes tops. But dinners — oh how I hate those. Remembering to take the meat out the night before, the preparation, the cooking, the mess, the dishes, the complaints form the kids. I will miss no part of that. I will miss my boys but I will not miss one aspect of cooking. I plan on letting my fridge go empty and stay that way for the entire month of July while my kids are away at sleep away camp. No food shopping, no cooking, no dishes and no dishwasher. I will survive on yogurt, fruit and pretzels…and oh yeah, lots of eating out. And the kids….well, sorry…they’ll have to make do with camp food. Maybe they’ll complain just a little bit less about my cooking when they get back.

Posted by: Ofer Aronskind | April 6, 2013

The origin of Summer Sleep Away

I remember sitting at lunch in some restaurant somewhere when my oldest boy informed me that he was ready for sleep-away camp. Of course, his two younger brothers immediately jumped on board the idea. My heart skipped a beat but I kept it cool. After all, the best memories of my childhood were from camp. Why shouldn’t my boys enjoy the same experience. I’d miss them but I’d be thrilled for them at the same time. A few months later off they went. They asked me to do one thing while they were gone—they wanted me to write down some of my stories from Summer Camp that I had been telling them for years. I promised I would but didn’t really give it much thought.

But when I finally sat down one morning with my laptop staring at the blank screen, I was amazed at how fast the words and the stories came to me. Within two months — the time my kids were away — I had written a first draft of Summer sleep-away. When my boys came home from camp I showed them my work. They liked it but also gave me some good criticism. After several rewrites the novel came to be what it is today. I am proud of that book and I think so are my kids. I’ve come into their classrooms over the years and read to their classmates. I’ve spoken with their friends who have read the book and enjoyed getting their thoughts on it.

With each successive summer that my kids have been going off to camp, I have written again and again. That Same Summer; Escape From Sunday School and the soon-to-be published Celebrities of Summer School are all fruits of summer vacation.

Ahh, there’s nothing like summer.

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