It takes a Village

Carl Robinette

Fri March 28, 2014 11:32am

The 5-year-old camper retaliated by throwing a wad of sand at her counselor. She did not want to play with the other campers.  She crossed her arms, pouted.
“I don’t want to play anymore,” the camper said.
It may seem like common sense to say children need to learn the consequences of misbehaving as the camper did, but My Village Camps worries more about its kids’ self-esteem. The thing that triggers the bad behavior is the focus, rather than the behavior itself.
“After some time, talking and understanding, she eventually came to watch the group play and started to play herself,” said Maryann Hernandez, owner and founder of My Village Camps. “On Friday we saw the camper with the interesting behavior of actually helping others clean up toys and she really began to play well with the group. A counselor came up to me, tapped me and said, ‘look, she is doing amazing.’ I looked at the counselor and told him that our team contributed to that change and you should be proud of yourselves.”
Hernandez hosted her first pilot camp in spring 2013 and it was well received, she said. She calls the idea behind the K-6 day camps an “immersion experience.” That means kids get a hands-on learning experience in an environment that is designed to be fun, nurturing and supportive of individuality.
“Typically when you run children’s programming, it’s just that, a program,” Hernandez said.  “What we like to call ourselves is an experience rather than a program.”
 She is new to the camp business, but she is bringing in the help of educators and camp administrators as she gears up for the full launch of My Village Camps during spring break at Salt Creek Recreation Center.
My Village Camps day camps will be available during every school holiday season. This spring’s camp will be science themed with woodworking on the list for the next one. But it is the counselors who have been hand-picked and rigorously vetted that make the difference through their passion and commitment to kids, Hernandez said.
 “It helps [kids] be creative and innovate,” she said. “All we want to do is create ‘the magic.’ We want them to believe in themselves. That minute when they start to believe is when the change happens.”