Camp Is On! A message from the Camp Director

Here we are!

It has been a long time coming, friends, and we are happy to be offering camp once again! As you can imagine, our hearts were broken over not holding camp this summer. When everything shut down in the spring, moving into summer we felt there was too much risk. We were not confident we could keep keep everyone healthy, and too large of groups to manage safely. During that time, we kept up the grounds and fixed up buildings, all with the anticipation of opening camp again in the near future. And now here we are!

Rethinking Camp

As you can imagine, operating camp in times of a pandemic has made us rethink EVERYTHING we do! From how we serve meals to passing out medications, how we check in campers to staffing our programs — we’ve taken a closer look at every detail.

Our medical team, consisting of Nurse Jen, Nurse Sarah, and Dr. Cornell, have helped us all along the way. We couldn’t be holding camp without their input! More than anything in the world, we would hate for someone to become sick at camp because of something we missed. Masks are required at all times by all staff and AmeriCorps members. They will wear face shields when any camper requires help eating or brushing their teeth.

Family members aren’t allowed into the sleeping areas in an effort to keep as few people as possible out of compromising areas. We are plating meals and not offering a buffet. Medications are passed in the dining hall instead of having a line at the nurse station.

Perhaps we are going a bit overboard on the planning; but to keep our campers, families, and staff/AmeriCorps members safe, we don’t feel there is too much that could be done. We are intentionally keeping our sessions small as we navigate changes. As we become more comfortable and confident in our methods we will then work towards hosting more campers.

AmeriCorps Training

We held our AmeriCorps training with 9 new members, and are so excited to have them be a part of our camp adventures moving forward. This was a great chance for us to practice the procedures that we have been putting into place over the past several months. We have a great group of young people (Carissa here, and I’m old) joining us, and can’t wait to be a part of the wonderful things they do at camp!

Veterans Family Camp

Our Veterans Family Camp was held September 26-27 (just one night instead of two). We welcomed 8 veterans and 15 family members to camp, and showed them just what camp fun is all about. There was tie-dying, pumpkin carving, a campfire with songs, and we even honored 3 veterans at our Quilts of Valor presentation held Saturday night. We were happy to have camp open again, and see many happy families as they left on Sunday.

First Respite Camp Weekend

We held our first Respite Camp weekend October 9-11, and it was a great time! We truly appreciate all of our families’ patience at check-in, and following all of the guidelines to record each camper’s temperature and symptoms for two weeks before they arrived. The AmeriCorps members and staff did a great job following the guidelines, wearing their masks and encouraging their campers to wear theirs (understandably, some campers won’t wear them for different reasons). They worked hard to keep areas disinfected, and most of all making those great connections with our campers and helping them have a great time.

Spacing Out Weekend Sessions

Our schedule is intentionally spaced out more than it has been in the past, allowing two weeks between each program, whether at Respite Camp or Camp Wawbeek. This gives us time to hear from families and/or staff members if they have developed any symptoms or have any concerns we need to follow up on. Our next scheduled camp session is our Transitions Camp at Camp Wawbeek, to be held October 23-25. Transitions has become a popular camp session for many young adults who want to learn and/or practice life skills, all while hanging out with other campers their age.

We are fully aware that the time may come that we do not feel it safe to move forward offering our programs.  Until then, we are going to do what we can to make camp happen!

In camp spirit,

Carissa

Events to Support Camp! Virtual 5k & Drive-Thru Pancakes

We are all learning to do things differently, so this year we are hosting a Virtual 5k and Drive-Thru Pancake Breakfast! We want to keep everyone safe and healthy, but that doesn’t mean we stop having fun and supporting Easterseals Wisconsin Camps! Join us for the Virtual 5K Run, Ramble and Roll from September 27 to October 11 and support Easterseals Wisconsin Camps! This virtual event will take place over two weeks so you can participate safely from home! Participate with your family, and even your furry pets, as a one-time 5k or log your miles over the two week span of the virtual 5k. If you do choose to visit camp, please reserve a time when you purchase your ticket below. The Drive-Thru Pancake Breakfast is held at Easterseals Wisconsin Camp Wawbeek (1450 Hwy 13, Wisconsin Dells). This year’s event will be Drive-Thru only on Sunday, October 4, 2020 from 9:00 am – 11:30 am. Click on the tickets button below to place your order (by Oct.1) and schedule a time to pick up your breakfast!

Poisonous Weeds of Wisconsin A message from Dr. Cornell

Summer is a great time to explore Wisconsin’s abundant outdoors, but camping, biking or hiking can lead to encounters with poisonous plants that cause skin irritation and injuries when touched. Knowing these types of plants can help with avoiding them, minimizing the level of damage following exposure and taking other necessary precautions. Here are five common poisonous plants that should not be touched. Continue readingPoisonous Weeds of Wisconsin A message from Dr. Cornell

DIY Projects: Bird Feeder to Fluffy Slime! Try out these DIY projects to bring camp into your home!

Are you bored at home? Have you run out of activities to keep everyone entertained? Give some of these fun and creative activities a try! From DIY Bird Feeder to Fluffy Slime these activities are designed to use objects and materials found in most homes, while using your imagination and creativeness! The idea behind these activities is to replicate the fun activities and crafts we do at camp!

DIY Bird Feeder

Did you know birds eat half their body weight in food each day? That could mean up to 1 pound of seeds a day!! For today’s activity we are going to make some homemade bird feeders. Using apples, peanut butter, and bird seed! This activity is a quick project that will help seed eating birds get the nutrients they need to survive! This project should take about 15 minutes to complete.

Materials:

  • 1-2 Apples per participant
  • 1 Jar of peanut butter or sun-butter
  • 1 plate of bird seed
  • 8-10 inches of string, yarn, or fishing wire
  • 1 nail or screw per apple
  • Butter knife or spoon
Instructions:
  1. Before starting the apple, grab the plate, and pour the bird seed on it. Making sure to cover the entire plate in a thin layer.
  2. Take nail and insert it, point down, in the top of the apple. Make sure it is as center as possible. Leave enough room to tie the string onto the nail.
  3. Take 8-10 inches of string and knot each end onto the nail, so that the apple dangles when the string is held up.
  4. Once the string is tied, take the knife or spoon and spread the peanut butter all over the apple. Make sure to apply a thick layer to hold the seeds. If avoiding messy fingers, participants can hold the nail.
  5. Once the apple is covered in peanut butter to participants satisfaction, roll the apple in the plate of seeds. Make sure to get all sides and edges.
  6. Repeat steps 1-6 with remaining apples.
  7. When seeds are covering all of the apples, place your DIY bird feeders outside on a tree branch near a door or window.
  8. Now sit back and watch birds gobble up their treat!
Continue readingDIY Projects: Bird Feeder to Fluffy Slime! Try out these DIY projects to bring camp into your home!

Make Your Own Lava Lamp!

Are you looking for a fun science project to do while at home? Look no further. These DIY lava lamps are the perfect science and math projects to do while at home during the “safer at home” orders. The idea is to create a fun activity and experiment that we can all love and appreciate and bring a sense of peace and calmness during these times. Watch the video of the experiment being done on Live with Kelly and Ryan.

What you need:

  • Empty plastic bottle or jar
  • Water
  • Vegetable oil
  • Food coloring
  • Alka-Seltzer tabs
  • Measuring cups
  • Optional: funnel & flashlight

Directions:

  1. Fill an empty plastic bottle or jar with ⅕ of water (math skills!)
  2. Next, fill the rest of the bottle or jar with cooking oil. Use a funnel if you have one and pour oil into the bottle at an angle so it stays above the water that is already in the container.
  3. Then, drop in 3-8 drops of food coloring (pick your favorite color). It will settle below the oil.
  4. Finally, drop in an Alka-Seltzer tablet. Wait and watch it bubble like a lava lamp. Shine a flashlight underneath the bottle to create a glowing effect for fun!

Did you know?

Alka-Seltzer tablets fizz like crazy when dropped into water. The moment the tablet hits the water, a chemical reaction occurs that releases carbon dioxide gas which produces the bubbles or fizz that we hear and see. These are the same bubbles we hear and see when we drink soda pop.

Intermolecular polarity water and oil don’t mix. The food coloring is mostly water so it doesn’t mix with the oil. It will drop down to the water layer. Then when the Alka-Seltzer tablets are added it will raise up into the oil with the bubbles.

Shaving Cream Color Mixing Sensory Bags Reduce anxiety with this fun art project!

Looking for a fun art therapy project to do at home? This shaving cream mixing sensory bag is a MESS FREE art project that you can make to help relieve stress and help calm the mind when a little overstimulated with everybody being stuck at home. Following are the directions for this easy to make – hopefully mess free 😉 – activity to do at home and without even having to go to the store! Continue readingShaving Cream Color Mixing Sensory Bags Reduce anxiety with this fun art project!

Wellness Wednesday Suggestions from our AmeriCorps team!

Stressed? Who isn’t? You are not alone right now you are part of the majority. When it comes to stress during times of disaster or trauma, we know that unexpected disasters are a huge crisis in a person’s life and can make someone experience significant and heightened stress responses. Stress responses are a normal part of the human body but when the stress response is a daily thing or lasts a long period of time it proves to be detrimental to your well-being. Most of us would be lying if we said we weren’t more stressed or more anxious because of the current COVID-19 crisis which has shifted all of our plans, has made us adapt, and given us a very uncertain, foreseeable future. Uncertainty and fear of the unknown is a significant form of stress that often goes under the radar. Feeling distanced and isolated from social interactions with others also causes higher stress as well as repetitive day after day tasks without a change of scenery. Trust us, you are not alone in this. Here are some tips of advice to help calm the anxious and stressed mind, especially during the “safer-at-home” orders that have now been officially updated in Wisconsin until at least May 26th. Continue readingWellness Wednesday Suggestions from our AmeriCorps team!

Coffee Filter Artwork Getting crafty at home!

Looking for more art project inspiration using household items? If you have some paper coffee filters and a few simple art supplies on hand, then we have some great crafts for you to try at home!

Coffee Filter Rainbows

These coffee filter rainbows are a perfect way to relieve some stress and add some bright colors and fun to the household decor. They are easy to make and should be able to be made using all the things you probably have at home. No need to go out to the store during the “safer at home” orders. Here is a link to pictures and directions. We used markers and a spray bottle with water but the link calls for just some basic water colors. Either option will work!

What you will need:

  1. Markers (substitute water color paints)
  2. Spray bottle with water (Substitute for cup of water for water color paints)
  3. Plastic tablecloth, paper towel, or newspaper to cover table
  4. White coffee filters
  5. Scissors
  6. Optional Items: puffy cotton balls & glue
Continue readingCoffee Filter Artwork Getting crafty at home!

For The Love of Camp Real talk about our present situation.

Real Talk

Dear Friends,   We like to project sunshine and rainbows here at camp, but it’s time for some real talk. This social distancing is hard. Those of us who live at camp find ourselves very fortunate to be “safer at home” here…we have 400 acres of camp to hike and explore, and are enjoying clearing trails and having the time to explore. We haven’t seen any campers for almost a month. “Camp People” love people. We love songs. We love connection. We love seeing…people…people succeed, people love, people laugh. Alex, Jamie, and Carlee are getting to spend some great time with their dogs, Stevie is “stuck” in Australia, and I am able to spend time my goats and cats (I have been called a “cat lady” in the past…you should see me now!) The truth is, we miss you. We miss all of the campers, your families, our staff/volunteers/AmeriCorps members. We say over and over during training at camp: Camp isn’t the place, it’s the people. And that is what is missing at camp right now. Continue readingFor The Love of Camp Real talk about our present situation.

Wawbeek Boys’ Dorm Bathroom Update and an Informal Tribute

Hello Friends!

We do have some projects that we are working on here at camp – a big one being remodeling the bathrooms and shower room in the Boys’ Dorm at Camp Wawbeek! If you have stayed in this dorm, you will probably agree that they were in need of an upgrade and some attention! Thanks to a beloved Easterseals Wisconsin Board member, John Van Wie, we were able to see this project become a reality! There are new sinks and toilets (thanks to a generous donation from Kohler!), new stalls (real stalls…not the curtains!) will be installed next week, new tile, and actual dividers in the showers. We are excited to see this project come to fruition, and can’t wait to be using them this summer.

Vision for the Remodel

We’ve shared some formal tributes about the passing of our dear friend, John Van Wie, but I wanted to take a moment to share just how much he has done for camp. The contractors are using John’s hand-drawn plans for the dorm showers, and it was his vision for the bathrooms we are completing as well. John not only took on designing the renovation and lining up contractors, he also helped us secure funding. Remember how lovely the Menonomi Cabin remodel turned out? That was thanks to John’s efforts (and the work of another board member, Chuck Buell). That cool zip line? John helped secure the funding. He would visit every Veterans Family Camp and welcome everyone on behalf of our Board of Directors. John even got his wife, Joanne, involved in our Veterans Family Camp through her involvement with Quilts of Valor.

John was a wonderful friend of camp, and believed in all we did…and is truly missed every day.

In camp spirit,

Carissa