In this letter you will find lots of information about who we are, what we will do during the week/weeks ahead, why we are so passionate about children exploring the world through their sensory system in positive and beneficial ways, and how the experience of JOURNEY Camp will facilitate your child’s growth in this area. For some of you that have been with us for two years, this will only be a reminder of what we are about and how much we love being with your child(ren).
With positive sensory integration in the background—but at the heart—of all that we do, the goal of our inaugural year at JOURNEY Camp is to connect with the natural rhythm of your child’s nervous system. We will provide a safe, sensory-rich, and sacred space that will not only encourage them to explore the world around, but also empower their world within. Whether your child will be with us for one week or many, we are excited about growing and learning together, and are honored that you’ve chosen to spend this time with us!
Continued peace on your Journey,
A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving. ― Lao Tzu
JOURNEY Camp is designed for all rising kindergarten through middle schoolchildren, although we are equipped to accommodate more campers during each session, we believe we are only as successful as our ability to relate and respond to each child’s needs individually. This is not only crucial to the success of our program, but also directly proportional to the staff-to-camper ratio we maintain. As such, we will limit space to 15 campers each session. With direct supervision from Adult and Volunteer Junior Counselors (rising 9th graders and up), 1:5 will be our maximum ratio at all times. We will also have other adults with us on various day, Suzanne Puckett will help us in our gardens, Kelly Dougherty will be with us many times this summer to lead in yoga. I anticipate our ratio will more likely average 1:4 – 1:3.
During planned activities and open ended play, I will be observing, working with and encouraging your child(ren) to experience and try things that they may oppose to see where their systems need support. Together, we will strive to create a balance between your child’s inner and outer worlds as we help them to organize the information each sensory system is taking in.
And the Journey Begins…: Opening Ceremony
Every day at JOURNEY Camp will begin at 9:00 a.m. with Morning Ceremonies. This time together is very important, as it helps travelers make the transition from home…to a day at camp. Please make sure your child is signed in no later than 8:45 a.m. Parents/guardians are encouraged to drop off in the morning instead of parking to come in. However, on the first day, please feel free to park at the road in our grassy area at the top of the drive and walk down to our Camp office to check in. Children will unpack and receive instruction from the volunteers as to what they are to be doing and where they are to before we all head to the flag pole to start our day. Ms. Jennifer will talk about the day ahead and raise the JOURNEY Camp flag. After our first day, each child will have a personal “dream” bag that will fly on the pole each day. The children’s’ gabs will fly all day to remind them of their value and importance in this world.
Pathways: Where They Lead and What We’ll Do
JOURNEY Camp will provide activities inside and outside that will support integration of the senses so your child’s nervous system can move towards regulation. Throughout the day, children will follow “Pathways” to different areas spread across the camp property.
There is a Quiet Room, with books and board games and sensory toys, balls, apparatus and various types of “swings” to develop gross motor skills; an Art Studio, filled with supplies to encourage creativity and fine motor activities; a Music Wall and Concert Corner; a Meditation Room for children needing a space to be comfortable and silent. The children will grow vegetables in Mamaw’s Garden, build in P-Nut’s Shop, and be given the opportunity to feed, water and care for the animals at Papa’s Farm. The Ball Field is our largest sensory-rich play area with a climbing wall, swing, horseshoes, balance beams and water slide. Compass Cove, located adjacent to SCC, is a place to simply “hang out”, with a teepee, fire pit, hammocks, and Stumble Stump, wobble logs, wobble board, ropes challenge (low, low, low , to the ground) course. We will walk and skip in the labyrinth and enjoy the quiet garden.
On some days, Pathways will lead to an area with a specific plan and camp counselors will guide children through the activity. But most Pathways lead to areas specifically designed for open-ended play and exploration with the intention of creating a space where the children can guide themselves, and much of their time will be spent here. These are the moments we will use to observe and learn as much as we can from your child about how they process different sensory signals and identify strengths as well as areas of need.
We will play all day. We will be loud and quiet. We will be rambunctious and calm. We will move fast, slow, get wet, be messy and also feel our bodies settle. We will sit together as we eat the lunches we have brought from home and also enjoy new textures of different foods from our garden. We will enjoy laughter, conversation and talk about what the afternoon holds with great anticipation.
Our Spirit-Self: Exploring Stillness
and Listening to Our Hearts
As created children of God, we will also take time to explore what is sacred around us and within us and will learn to recognize it as part of the important rhythm of each day. We will enjoy nature, and explore stillness and meditation. A regular part of every day will be our Labyrinth Walk. Your child will discover how to settle their nervous system and begin preparing for the transition from JOURNEY Camp, back into the home. Counselors will lead children in ways to explore the days’ favorite moments, and help them to “locate” that good feeling in their bodies. And this year a special addition is that Mrs Kelly will be with us for yoga, we are so excited to welcome her to camp.
Closing Ceremony: How We End Each Day
The Closing Ceremony will follow our meditation time and Labyrinth Walks and is just as vital to the end of your child’s day at camp as the Opening Ceremony was to its beginning. During this time, the children have the option to share their favorite part of the day with the group , to share what they learned about another person, or even something that made them happy or said. We will lower the children’s dream bags and our JOURNEY flag, and put them in the Blessing Basket. Ms. Jennifer will then end the Closing Ceremony.
The Sensory System: How We Explore, Experience,
and Interpret the World
All learning occurs through the senses and the demonstration of that learning is shown through the motor system. Being able to accept input from visual, auditory, tactile, gustatory and olfactory systems is vital to the movement of the proprioceptive and vestibular system. JOURNEY Camp experiences will enhance your child’s sense of smell, touch, hearing, taste and sight, as well as support walking, running, balance, and movement in large and small ways. All areas of the sensory system will be touched with the experiences provided during the week.
Some children experience the world around them in ways that feel "TOO much!"—too much noise, too much light, too much movement. In a state of sensory overload, these children may try to avoid or minimize sensations, e.g., withdraw from being touched, or cover their ears to avoid loud sounds. Other children may “under-react” to sensory stimuli and appear withdrawn, uninterested, or self-absorbed. Children want to be good and live up to the expectations that adults have for them, but when a child’s response is inappropriate to the context of their surroundings, those responses are often misinterpreted as bad behavior, lack of motivation, attention seeking or hyperactivity.
A child’s job is to learn to be joyful, to embrace relationships with family and friends and to play well with others. Unfortunately, this can feel like an impossible task for children with sensory needs. Through play and safe exploration, we teach children ways to regulate all that's happening in the world around them, thus empowering their world within. We will encourage growth and development towards their purpose of walking on the earth as happy children.
Please, don’t hesitate to give me a call or send an email if you need more information. Also, be sure to check our website regularly (www.journey-camp.com), as we’re adding new content daily in an effort to make all JOURNEY Camp information available Online.