Almost a month has past since I arrived in Valencia, Venezuela. During the first month, my team and I have become familiar with the title “the gringos,” which is the nickname that most of the citizens here refer to us by. We, “the gringos,” have learned a lot about life in a South American county in recent days. Part of the learning that I have received has been through university students, street merchants, and strangers helping me speak more Spanish everyday.

The apartment complex where my team and I live


Language misunderstandings are numerous here because it is a rarity to run across citizens of Venezuela who have visited or lived in a country where English is the primary language. One exception to that is a 11 year-old boy named Pablo that my team and I met who speaks perfect English. We bumped into Pablo at the apartment complex, Balcones del Norte, where we live.

After talking to him for a few minutes, he offered to introduce us to his mother, Liliana, who is a Engineering professor at Carabobo University (CU). Liliana received her master’s degree in United States at a University in Florida and she lived there for four years with her family. God was good because one of the challenges that my team and I have right now is building connections with faculty members at the university where we work, which just so happens to be Carabobo University.

Connecting with faculty members is a small part of the work that my team and I have been doing at the university lately. We need faculty support in order to help our organization, Vida Estudiantil (the name for Campus Crusade for Christ in Venezuela), grow. We hope Liliana will help us make better connections to student leaders on campus, help us find a suitable spot for our weekly meeting, and help us gain exposure at CU.

My team and I have been working on other tasks in order for our organization to have a strong presence at the university. We have a group of students that lead the Vida Estudiantil Bible Studies, assist in the event planning for our organization, and help get other students on their campus connected with Christ. This group is called the servant team. My team and the servant team have engaged in two meetings so far and it is thrilling to see the dreams that they have for our organization and their university.

Us with Vida Estudiantil students after giving out questionnaires

My team and I have also been sharing Christ with other students we met on campus. We gave out hundreds of questionnaires to students on campus last week. The questionnaires asked if they were interested in attending a bible study, coming to English Club, or getting to know God more. The reception we received from the students was fantastic, around two hundred students filled out questionnaires and we met many new students who are interested in getting involved in Vida Estudiantil.
While giving out the questionnaires were able to inform students of the first English Club that we were having, which we held last week. On the day of English Club, it was incredible to see all the students who attended and were eager to learn English from fluent speakers. Outside of English Club, I have been put in charge, along with Emily from my team, to plan the different outings that we are taking to the local orphanage. We are are planning on going there as soon as we touch base with the pastor that runs the orphanage.

The University where I work at with Campus Crusade for Christ

All in all, working at la Universidad de Carababo (Carabobo University) is quite different then most colleges in the the United States. One of the days that we were on campus medical students were protesting at the university. As the result of the protest, the road that we needed to use to leave via bus was blocked so we had to find an alternative exit route. This sort of demonstration is typical at the university and we need to flexible to the many curve balls that are thrown our way.
Some of those curve balls have been very interesting, I have realized there are many differences (some humorous) between the way people live here in Venezuela and the way that Americans from the United States live. I would like to share with you some of those differences.
Differences Between the United States and Venezuela

The alligator at the University's pond

1. United States: You might find some ducks, geese, or–if you are lucky– a frog at a university’s local lagoon. Venezuela: The University of Carabobo has live alligators in their pond that seem quite hungry.
2. United States: University students have to pay for all of their tuition unless they have financial aid or scholarships. Venezuela: With their socialistic government, students do not have to pay for going to a state university.
3. United States: Playgrounds exist in local communities for children to play at. Venezuela: Venezuela has what my team and I affectionately call “bro gyms,” which are outside work-out centers for people to do push-ups, pull-ups, and crunches.
4. United States: If there is a stray dog in the United States, usually within hours the dog is picked up by animal control. Venezuela: There are stray dogs everywhere, especially at the university, stray dogs linger around students and eat the food they leave behind.
5. United States: In restrooms there is always hand soap by the sinks. Venezuela: NO bathroom has hand soap and Purrell is your best friend.
6. United States: When people want to draw your attention to something they point with their fingers. Venezuela: Venezuelans use their lips to point by kissing in the direction of what they want you to look at.

One of the students, Douglas, me and his mother at our welcome party

7. United States: Gasoline prices fluctuate but they are almost always over $2.00 a gallon. Venezuela: It costs less then a dollar to fill up an entire tank of gas (this is because Venezuela is the third biggest exporter of oil, it is humorous because here it costs more for drinking water than gasoline).
8. United States: Most college-aged students do not attend a social get-together during the night with their parents. Venezuela: College-aged students will bring their parents to parties and other social functions, this is completely normal and in some cases the parent shows up at the social occasion before their child gets there.
Despite all these differences, Venezuela has a lot to fall in love with. When the seven members of my team cram into a bus that has people hanging outside the door, loud Reggaeton music blasting inside, and the bus assertively weaving through three lanes of traffic it hard not to feel alive. Also the people here are so warm and overjoyed to have us here, we experience a lot of warmth and affection. Within talking to someone for a half an hour, the other person will treat you like they have known you for your entire life. Living life in Venezuela, it is near impossible to escape the feeling like you are part of one big family.

Charter into new waters this summer. For many kids, coming to camp is a big adventure! One of the biggest challenges is swimming in a lake. We all have had experience swimming in a nice blue pool. There is security in being able to see the bottom of the pool. Lake swimming is to enter the wild water and to cross a border. You pass the lake’s edge and you break the surface of the water itself. In doing so, you move from one realm into another: a new realm of freedom, adventure, magic and occasional danger. Watch out for those Turtles and Fish! 

Swimming in open water is a new experience that's not to be feared, but embraced. Once you feel comfortable swimming in a lake, the world will open up to you and wherever you see water you will see a new adventure waiting. Swift Nature Camp has over 1500 acres of water right out your cabin front door.

At Swift Nature Camp we have a wonderful swimming area full of fun toys, not to mention Wally (the water trampoline) & Sally (the slide). "Free Swim" is one of the most anticipated times of the camp day, but "Instructional Swim" is there to help give you build the confidence for those free swims. You can even earn 
American Red Cross Swimming levels

Expect to capsize and swim occasionally when paddling a canoe, kayak or raft - it’s part of the sport! But when you hit the water unexpectedly, even strong swimmers need a lifejacket, also known as a personal flotation device (PFD). It allows you to concentrate on doing what’s needed to execute a self rescue and will allow you to assist others. Nearly 70% of all drownings involving canoes, kayaks or rafts might have been avoided if the victim had been wearing a lifejacket! 

We at Swift Nature Camp believe that your child’s safety is the most important part of camp. That is why we have a strict Lifejacket rule. Everyone must wear a PDF when in a boat. No exceptions, staff and campers alike. THis is true if on a river canoe trip or on on our own camp lake. Water is so much fun and kids love it but it is dangerous and we must be prepared. We even have a special “titanic test” to ensure that our lifejacket fits nice and snug in case of an emergency. Campers learn this the first day of camp.

As camp director of Swift Nature Camp and an American Red Cross Lifeguard Instructor I know how important proper safety at the waterfront is. Learn about some of our water safety guidelines... 

Be on guard

Swimming areas are filled with distractions, lifeguards must always be aware. Kids could die if one lose his or her focus. Actively scan your area. All at the swimming area must realize that the waterfront is an area of grave danger.

Buddy pairs are very important

 “BUDDY CHECK” Swimming in buddy pairs adds a layer of redundancy to the active scanning that lifeguards perform on the dock or shore. Buddy pairs also give lifeguards something to look for the camper that is swimming alone.
Buddy separation is common and therefore becomes a good target for lifeguards who are actively scanning their area. Lifeguards who make sure buddies are together are making sure campers are safe while swimming.
“Where is your buddy?” is a great question that tells me the lifeguards are doing what needs to be done. This is often followed by the reminder for buddy pairs to swim within 8 feet of one another. THis provides verbal confirmation that the lifeguards are doing their job.

Staff must always swim in buddy pairs 

Staff set a good example for campers and help protect one another when they also buddy up during staff swims. No one at camp should ever swim alone, even briefly.
When I need to hop in the water at an odd time to fix Sally or Wally ( our swimming structures) , I always have a fellow staff member actively spotting me and acting as my buddy. Other staff should do the same.

Avoid so-called “triples” 

Triples are only allowed for a short period of time, until another shows up at the waterfront. If singleton swimmers show up for a swim, I find them another swimmer with whom they can buddy or they often buddy with a lifeguard.

Never swim at night 

As Director, I am at the waterfront for any early or late swims and I call time over when the sky is to dark to swim. Never should campers or staff swim between sunset and sunrise.

Never exceed ratios

 Programs vary, but I’m most comfortable with a ratio of 1 staff member to every 12 swimmers in the water. On particularly hot days, We train our own lifeguard’s so our staff is made of 80% Lifeguards so that ratio is never exceeded. This exceeds the state of Wisconsin’s codes. 

Use PFDs

 When an off-camp trip includes a water element, we follow this rule: “Above the knees requires PFDs.” Even when we are at an island near camp we wear PFD’s to ensure safety. 
PFD’S are always used when a child is in a watercraft. Every time and always no exceptions.
That means that dipping your feet in a cool mountain stream is fine, but as soon as there is any significant wading or swimming, every person is wearing a properly fitting life jacket.
Children enjoy water activities more than any other while at 
Overnight Summer Camp but it is also a very dangerous are if not all safety precautions are not being met.
Choosing a camp is a big decision faced by parents each and every summer. And the summer of 2010 is no exception.
When the last school bell rings, each summer parents want to know: Where to send their kids for camp? It's a choice that shouldn't be taken lightly. Any parent sending their child off better be a little nervous. Before making the decision, put together a list of requirements.
It will include:
You want it to be a safe place
You want it to have caring staffYou want it to promote Funbut there is so much more.

With thousands of Overnight summer camps available -- from day camps to sleep away camps, specialized, private and public camps a decision can be overwhelming.
Yet, 3 simple point will guarantee your child's success: Know your child, know the camp and know yourself. recommends to take your child's personality and preferences into account. Is your child shy or outgoing? Athletic or academic? Independent enough for sleep-away camp or not quite ready to leave home?
'When you know your child and match a camp to their needs, you have a much higher chance for success,'' says Lonnie Lorenz, director of Swift Nature Camp a Kids Summer Camp, with traditional, noncompetitive, activities for Boys and Girls ages 6-15 specializing in nature and the environment.
An important consideration is whether your child would be better off in a more general program like a traditional overnight camp or a more specialized program that focuses particular skills like performing arts, technology, music, sports or academics.
Maybe your child is not quite ready to leave home so a day camp might be the way to go. Children do go to overnight camp as early as 6 but most common is to be 9 or 10. If your child still not showing signs sometimes you just have to say ready or not you have to give them loads of encouragement and send them off,'' says Lonnie.
So now you know the type of camp that best meets the need of your child its time to start checking out camp. Do your early research on the web, but be sure to call references and get brochures. and if possible even visit.
Lonnie suggests that “Parents talk with camp directors to ensure their rules, routines and procedures are an extension of what's followed in their home”. “You want to feel comfortable with the folks your handing your kids over to.” Also consider: child-to-staff ratio, the daily routine and how the staff deals with new campers,homesickness, problems, food allergies Lorenz said.
The most difficult part about summer camp isn't always picking one or paying for it. Camp has become expensive and should be a factor when choosing a camp. Camp can range from $200 per week for a church camp to $1000 a week for a private camp. With these questionable economic times camps are working with families by offering payment plans, financial aid, sibling discounts, scholarships and other assistance.
One of the main functions of camp is helping children gain independence. Yet, often it's the parents who have the hardest time letting go. “We, as parents, want to be there and help our children but kids really benefit when they are left to their own devices in a safe supportive place like summer camp,'' Lorenz said. “Don’t restricting your child because of your personal fears, we have seen it so many times.''
When your child comes home you will hear the stories about all the accomplishment and fun but what you see is that they've leaned to grow in their appreciation of themselves and their appreciation of others.
At Overnight Summer Camps, children are given the choice to take risks and try new things. This voluntary nature makes children more open to new experiences, with personal satisfaction as their motivation. Not only are there opportunities to try new things, but camp offers many areas for children to excel in. At a good general interest camp, the non-athlete can shine at arts and crafts, woodworking, or dramatic programs...
while the athlete can also find many outlets for their skills. Perhaps most importantly, the two campers learn to live together and become friends despite their varied interests.

Kids Summer Camps offer many opportunities to become competent. Practicing both new and old skills on a regular basis, it makes sense that there will be improvement. Novices have chances to learn, while those who are more experienced can improve. Learning new skills and improving on old ones builds self-esteem. Children become more independent and self-reliant at camp with their new found skills.

Sending your child to camp is giving them an opportunity to try something new. No matter how many after-school programs or lessons a child takes, its likely they will never have the opportunity to try all that is offered at summer camp. In a supportive environment, the child can try at something new. The interesting twist to these activities is that, since campers often don't know anyone else at camp before they go, they are more willing to try activities that their friends at home might not expect them to. The athlete can try out for the camp play, while the artist may dabble in sports. At camp, children can try new things and set their own goals for success.

Though years later, your child may not remember capture the flag games or the words to a camp song, the life lessons learned at camp will remain. At camp, a child learns how to take responsibility. The child who has never before made a bed, will learn how to smooth out sheets and blankets and tidy up a cubby. Though counselors will remind and encourage, campers quickly take responsibility for personal hygiene, and for more minor health issues, a camper learns to articulate what hurts and how to get help. All of this personal responsibility further fosters a sense of independence and self-esteem. Camp also improves a child's social skills by making new friends and learning how to reach out to strangers. At camp, children learn to get along with others, all while living together 24 hours a day, learning about courtesy, compromise, teamwork, and respect. Minnesota Camps

During a recent survey of campers in 20 different camps that where accredited by the American Camping Association provided answers to questions like "What did you learn at camp?" "How are you different in school because of what you did at camp last summer?" "How do you feel differently about yourself since you've been to camp?" American Camp Association

Can you think of things you learned and did at camp last summer that helped you in school this year? * I learned to have more patience and to appreciate the things I have. (10 year old female) * I feel that I am better at interacting with friends and family. The people skills learned at camp affected me dramatically when I went home. (15 year old male) * Leadership, organization, water-skiing, make my bed, keep my stuff clean, to keep in touch with my friends, respect, how to handle pressure. (13 year old female)

If explaining camp to friends, what would you say you learn here? * You learn mostly how to interact with different kinds of people and are open to different ideas. You learn how to cooperate well with others who share and don't share the same opinions as you. (15 year old female) * I learned to have fun, be a leader, discipline, and most of all - respect. (12 year old male) * You learn how to make new friends, learn different sports, and learn that camp can be a very good part of summer! (9 year old female)

Do you feel differently about yourself when you are at camp? * I feel differently because I feel like I am accomplishing something by being here. (13 year old female) * At school there are defined groups of people, but at camp, everyone feels wanted. (15 year old female) * Yes, because I'm with people my age and people who respect everyone. (11 year old male) * At camp I think that I can do more and be proud of myself. (13 year old female) * At camp I have a personality that is different from home. I'm less cautious to do fun or exciting things. I don't feel as alone as I sometimes do at home. (14 year old male) * When I'm at camp I feel that I can be more open with myself and others. I tell people things at camp I wouldn't speak of back home. I feel so much more in tune with myself here and I can discuss issues so much more openly. (15 year old male) * I don't have to be fake to anyone. Everyone here accepts me as I am and I'm not judged or criticized. (15 year old female)

Given the benefits of a sleepaway camp, it seems that all children should enroll. There are camps for almost all children, including those with special needs. However, there are certainly children who are not ready for an overnight camp experience. Be sure you and your child are ready to leave home.

Find out how to pick the
 Best Summer Camps.


And the winner is...

Thanks to all the campers and staff that placed their vote for the best Tshirt design. It was very close with this shirt only winning by 1 vote. Don’t worry , if you liked the others you will see them pop again next year and you can vote again.

As most of you know SCHOOL is nearly over! And that means that the time you have been most looking forward too is here. CAMP! Have you invited your Friends to come to summer camp? You should, not only do you get a really cool hat but you save $300.00 .


Mid States strives to provide thought provoking presenters and wonderful opportunities to connect camp pros and your peers in an affordable setting. Camps, like SNC bring their whole staff! From owners & directors to first year counselors, there is something for everyone. It is a great place to get revived and armed with fresh ideas and fill your 'bag of tricks' Thursday, March 10th through Saturday, March 12th, 2011 Pheasant Run Conference Center & Resort St. Charles, Illinois (Suburban Chicago)


We need presenters! if you are a SNC past staff member or CIT and...


you wish to make a presentation to 20 or so other professionals this is your chance. Submit your education session proposal and share your knowledge at the Eighteenth Annual Mid States Camping Conference in March 10-12, 2011 at Pheasant Run Resort in St. Charles, IL.

“Call for Presentations” form and speaker information can be found at: for submissions is November 1, 2011

If you have questions about becoming a presenter, submitting a proposal, or other topics related to the education sessions, please contact Colette Marquardt, Program Chair at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Although a trip to summer camp is highly anticipated by over 11 million children and adults each year, sending a child off to summer camp can be a source of anxiety for parents. Findings from a new study published in the December issue of Injury Prevention should ease their concerns however...
According to the American Camp Association's Healthy Camp Study, the first to examine the epidemiology of injury rates in a large sample of resident camps located throughout the United States and Canada, the risk of serious injury at resident summer camps is relatively low compared to other popular youth activities. 
"The good news for parents is that our data show that serious injuries are uncommon at resident summer camps," said Dawn Comstock, associate professor at the Center for Injury Research and Policy of Nationwide Children's Hospital and The Ohio State University College of Medicine. "The reported injury rate among campers was comparable to those in similar youth activities like sports or playing on playgrounds." 
According to the study, less than 3 percent of camp injuries required hospital admission, while almost all who sustained an injury either remained at camp for treatment or returned to camp after off-site treatment. Nearly 75 percent of the injuries were sustained by campers with just over 25 percent sustained by camp staff members. 
The majority of injuries occurred during scheduled camp activities. Barry Garst, director of program development and research application at the American Camp Association® (ACA), stated, "One popular opinion is that injuries at camps occur most frequently during unsupervised events. Our findings suggest that this may not be the case." 
While the overall risk of serious injury was low, long-term camp sessions, lasting 14 or more days, did present an increased risk of serious injury. "Long-term camps may be offering higher risk activities," said lead author Eric Goldlust, who conducted this research at the University of Michigan. "Uncovering injury patterns such as these should help us determine the best ways to help camps prevent injuries in the future." 
To help parents choose the best camps for children, ACA has developed a comprehensive summer camp resource for families -- offering expert advice from camp professionals on camp selection, readiness, child and youth development, and issues of importance to families. Visit for more information. Some tips from this site include how to identify the best camp for your child, determining your child's readiness for camp, and questions to ask the camp director including questions regarding the camp's philosophy, program emphasis, and information on camp counselors and other staff. 
The Healthy Camp Study is funded by Markel Insurance Company. Sponsoring institutions include the American Camp Association®, the Association of Camp Nurses, and the Center for Injury Research and Policy of The Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital. 

At SNC First, and most importantly is our campers safety. This is everyone at camps biggest concern. It starts from the top, where our registered nurse cares for all campers and staff, from bug bite to keeping medications under lock and key. In addition all staff are trained in first aid and CPR. As camp director I also hold an American Red Cross Instructor certification in First Aid, CPR and Life guarding. Last year over 60% of our staff were lifeguards, one of the highest of any camps. We believe that safety is so important to us we have started a â??safety eyesâ?? program in which campers are on the look out for areas that might be unsafe and are rewarded publicly for telling us about them. Bottom line I think our track record speaks for itself. Over the past 15 years under my direction the 2 worst accidents are: one broken leg and one broken arm. Both of these were accidents that could have happen at any place kids are playing. If you have Concerns please call us so we can chat more 630-654-8036 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


25 Baybrook Ln.

Oak Brook, IL 60523

Phone: 630-654-8036


W7471 Ernie Swift Rd.

Minong, WI 54859

Phone: 715-466-5666