Session 9 – Battle of the Clubs!

Hey readers!

Watch all the videos below, and comment on your favorite! We’ll announce the winner at the end of the week!


Spotlight on Terrific Teens!

Editor’s note: This weeks guest blogger is Ben H., from England. Ben flew across the pond to volunteer here for a month! As the former Head Teen Mentor, Ben brings two years of hands-on experience from the program and in a brief, yet eloquent way. Please comment below with your thanks to Ben for his genorous donation of time and spirit. 

– Mike

Our Terrific Teen program is the program that we are most proud of at camp. It is a transitional work program that has been designed to aid our participants from being Campers to being Adults living in the world of work.

The Terrific Teen Program builds off three main aspects; these are Work, Camp Improvement and Community Improvement. During their two week session the Terrific Teens take on a work placement in any area of Camp. This might involve assisting our staff working with the younger campers to helping our facilities staff in maintain a building. For this portion of the program our Teens receive an allowance that reflects their performance in their role.

For this session (Session 3 of the summer) the Teens have been building a new rabbit hutch for Sunny the Bunny as part of their Camp Improvement Project. Each session the Teens are expected to take on a project that in beneficial to the camp community. In the past, Teen groups have built benches, a stage for our weekly talent show, cultivated the learning garden and even built a basketball court.

John and John work on the frame of Sunny’s new hutch!

The Community Improvement element of the program is intended to highlight social responsibility in a way that the young adults can relate to. In the past the Teens have volunteered at local food pantries, a thrift store and at animal shelters in the Southern Maryland area.

One of the main focuses of the program is the personal growth of each participant. This can be measured in many ways, perhaps one of our Teens will attempt an activity for the first time or maybe their attitude towards a particular issue may change or evolve. Each Teen’s progress is measured by two reviews, taking place at the end of each week. Our Teen mentors use this time to set measurable goals for our teens that help to boost their allowance.

Becca Dobbs, one of the program’s veterans says that the most beneficial thing about the program is that it has allowed her to use the skills that she has learned here to set goals and work towards them.

Camp kicks childhood obesity’s big butt!

According to the CDC, the prevalence of childhood obesity has tripled in the last 30 years. A lack of physical activity and increase in fast food consumption is becoming commonplace in American homes – more typical than you would imagine. “The percentage of children aged 6–11 years in the United States who were obese increased from 7% in 1980 to nearly 20% in 2008. Similarly, the percentage of adolescents aged 12–19 years who were obese increased from 5% to 18% over the same period.” – cites the CDC webpage.

While there are numerous factors that can cause such an increase, one thing is for certain: We want to see a decrease in these rates. As mentioned in previous blogs, Wellness as a core value means providing a camp that provides plenty of physical activity coupled with healthy, balanced meals.


Healthy children become healthy adults – and unhealthy children become unhealthy adults. Just as inclusion is important to teach at an early age, so are healthy habits.  However, at camp, you won’t find a classroom. Every day, staff get the opportunity to become educators and mentors on healthy living. From getting up and playing field games with campers, to passing on dessert, staff model healthy behaviors and lifestyle choices for campers.

While some aspects of a healthy lifestyle like weight loss are obvious and visible, some are harder to see, but just as profound. Camp allows people of all ability levels to come together to form life-long friendships and have a wealth of experiences. Having these support systems can help boost self-esteem in youngsters and potentially ward off depression or other mental illnesses later in life.

The Horrors of Camp food – Myth BUSTED!

Bug juice, mystery meat, and bologna sandwiches. For decades, those have been considered the hallmarks of Camp food. One of the most frequently asked questions is “What kind of food do you serve, and should my camper pack a lunch?” Most parents shudder at the thought of their child eating camp food because they remember what it was like 20 or 30 years ago. Just as fashion and hairstyles change, so does camp culture – including what food service means.

Some of the highlights from this past week’s menu were: Egg, sausage, and cheese croissants; Biscuits and gravy; Fish sandwiches; Chicken nuggets; and Cheese ravioli. In addition to having a home-cooked entrée, all meals are served with fresh fruit, water, juice, vegetables, and a salad bar at dinner. We also have a vegetarian option at every meal and a continental spread at every breakfast.

Because Wellness is one of our four core values, we don’t offer or sell sodas at the Recreation Center. Sugar-based desserts are a treat at meals, as they are not served every day. Kitchen-staff present the appropriate portion sizes at the beginning of meals to assist in healthy lifestyle choices. Not only do we have camp-wide initiatives to foster Wellness, our kitchen can also accommodate camper-specific dietary requirements.

Six weeks in America – a Counselors perspective

This week, we are excited to have Martijn Van Tricht guest-blog for us. Martijn who hails from Nijmegen, Netherlands, is an overnight cabin counselor who is  also a Water Safety Instructor and Lifeguard. Part of his University program includes blogging about his experience. He has kindly offered to share a compare/contrast piece from his first week vs. his 6th week. Martijn also took the liberty of translating his blog for American readers’ conveince. Enjoy! – Mike

Martijn, pictured far left

Martijn’s Blog! Week 1: Culture shock! And review from week 6

Hallo Allemaal,

Hey everybody,

Dit is mijn eerste verslag vanuit de USA. Elke zaterdag zal ik een verslag bij houden wat ik in die week heb gedaan. De reden dat ik het op zaterdag schijf is omdat ik dan een vrije dag heb en op zondagmiddag begin ik weer met werken.

This is my first report from the USA. Every Saterday I’ll write a report from all my experice that happend in that week. The reason I’ll write it on Saterday is because that is my only day off from the week and then I’ll start working again from sunday till Monday.

De eerste week was een vrije intense week omdat ik het weekend voor mijn vertrek, mijn belangrijkste wedstrijd van het seizoen had: ‘’de Gelderse Kampioenschappen’’. Ik had op zaterdag voor het eerste, mijn eerste individuele titel op een zomerkampioenschap binnen gehaald op de 200m vrijeslag(borstcrawl). Daarnaast hadden we vorige week zaterdag en afgelopen zondag goud gehaald met estafette team van Aqua Novio ’94 op de 4x100m & 4x200m vrijeslag. Een mooie afsluiting voor het seizoen, maar ik moest die avond nog mijn spullen pakken dus veel rust had ik helaas niet kunnen pakken.

The first week was quite hard because the weekend before I left the Netherlands I had my most importend swimming tournement of the swimming season: The  regional championships. On the saterday I won mine first indivudule gold medal on the 200 meter freestyle. The Sunday after I won another gold medal on the 4x100m freestyle in a relay team. Together with the gold medal of last week was this a perfect ending from myswimming season. And because I had to pack up my stuff in the night I didn’t have much rest.

De maandag daarop moest ik om 03.00 opstaan want ik moest om 07.20 mijn vliegtuig naar Londen halen. Het was een internationale vlucht dus moest je 3 uur van te voren inchecken. Na een korte vlucht van 50 minuten met een huilende baby(Aargh…) moest ik nog eens 3 uur wachten in Londen. Waarbij ik de gelegenheid had genomen om bij Gordon Ramsey restaurant te eten. Daarna had ik nog eens een reis van 8.5 uur waarbij ik gelukkig, samen met een Duitser, een lege stoel naast ons hadden(Naja… beter kun je het niet hebben). Eenmaal aangekomen op Washington Dulles International Airport moest ik nog eens 1.5 uur wachten om puur het land binnen te komen. Het was toen pas 3 uur s ’middags in de USA(vanwege het 6 uur tijdsverschil) dus ik moest nog de dag door halen om in het Amerikaanse ritme te komen. Gelukkig kreeg ik van de camp director de maandag en de dinsdag vrij af vanwege de lange reis dus daar heb ik optimaal van genoten.

On Monday I had to stand up on 3 AM for the departure to London on 7.20 AM. The reason I had to be on the airport this early is because it was an international flight. And that means you have to check in for at least 3 hours before the plane leave. After a short flight with a crying baby (Aargh..) I had to wait for 3 hours. I took the liberty to eat at the Gordon Ramsey airport restaurant. After that was the big flight of 8.5 hours to Washington Dulles International Airport. I shared an 3 passenger place together with a person for Germany, So we had plenty of space. At the airport I had to wait for another 1.5 hours in line because I needed to do some paperwork to get in the USA. When I finally arrival at camp it was 3 PM and I had to stay awake till 8 PM to avoid a jetlag. Thank god, The Camp director gave me the day off on Monday and Tuesday. So I took my rest for the time being.

Op de woensdag had ik dus mijn eerste werkdag, ik zou eigenlijk deze week de cursus WSI(Water Safety Instructor) volgen. Allen had de instructeur op het laatste moment afgezegd. De camp director zei dat het geen probleem was want volgende week zal ik dan beginnen met mijn cursus Lifeguard, en dat is dan voldoende voor mijn baan deze zomer. Die avond werd alle internationale staf getrakteerd op Chipotle. Het is een burrito met daarin allerlei verschillende soorten gerechten die je dan zelf mag samenstellen. Ontzettend lekker! Daarnaast ben ik er achter gekomen dat je in Amerika wanneer je in restaurant drinken bestel, je daarna gratis mag bijvullen!! (helemaal te gek). De Nederlandse restaurants kunnen hieraan wel een voorbeeld nemen haha.

On Wednesday I would finally get my first workday. I should actually follow the course WSI(Water Safety Instuctor). But the instructor called it off at the last moment. The camp director said that it was no problem that I am so early in the USA, because i would follow a Lifeguard course next week. In the evening every international staff recieve a free meal at Chipotle. It’s a burrito that you can make with all kinds of ingredents. Incredibley nice! Then I figure out that in America you have free refills!(That’s just AMAZING!) The dutch restaurants could take a example to it!

Op de donderdag ben ik voor het eerste Amerikaanse Wal-Mart en supermarkt geweest. Waarbij wij in Nederland een AH XL al groot vinden is bij hun de reguliere supermarkt. De Wal-Mart die ik had bezocht was in hun ogen een kleine(Nou niet dus leek wel een winkelcentrum). En op elke kruispunt staan niet 1 of 2 fastfood restaurant maar meteen 9! Moet er wel mee oppassen dat ik hiervan niet te veel gebruik maak. Gelukkig heb ik kamergenoten die van de Groot Brittannië zijn. Zijn beide sportmannen en eten maar al te graag weinig vet en veel groente en fruit.

On Thursday I went to my very first trip to Wal-Mart and a local supermarket. Where we think the AH XL is big. Well it’s the same size as the local supermarket. And the Wal-Mart is as big as a mall. And this Wal-Mart is just a small one. Another thing i noticed, is that on every corner there is a fast food restaurant. I have to watch out that I don’t use that too much. But thank god mine roommates are also international staff. There are both athletes and love to eat low fat food and a lot of vegetables and fruit.

Op de vrijdag was mijn laatste werkdag van de week (hmm. Maar 3 daagse werkweek? I know chill he voor de eerste week). We zijn met ze alle wezen eten bij een restaurant genaamd Crack en Barrel. Het is een typische Amerikaanse restaurant waarbij het voedsel in grote hoeveelheden wordt geserveerd en het kost slecht 10 á 15 dollar (incl. tip, ja ze zijn dol op tips).. Maar ik heb mij prima kunnen vermaken met het aanhoren van de verhalen van terugkerende staf over de afgelopen zomer en hun ervaringen.

On Friday was my last day of my working week(Hmm.. Strange only a 3 days working week?) I know right! It’s awesome. We decide as a group to eat at a restaurant called Cracker Barrel. It’s a typical americans restaurant where any kind of order in great sizes been served. And it only cost like 10 – 15 dollar(Tip is included, yeah the love tips in America). The returning staff told all kinds of stories that happend on camp in the past years.

Ontzettend rustig maar culture shocking week. Vanavond hebben we een barbecue bij de camp directors huis. En vanaf dinsdag zal ik beginnen met de lifeguard cursus. Mocht je iets willen sturen naar mij in Amerika kun je dat doen naar het onderstaande adres:

It was an incredible easy, but culture shocking week. Tonight we having a BBQ at the camp directors house. And from Tuesday till Sunday i’ll be at the lifeguard training. If you would like to send something to mine american adres. Here is the adres:

Martijn van Tricht
Melwoord recreation Center
9035 Ironsides Road
20662 MD Nanjemoy
United States of America.

Bedankt voor het lezen en blijf mij vooral volgen op mijn web blog!

Thanks for reading and keep on following me on my blog

Groetjes vanuit Amerika!

Greetings from American!


6 week later

Een kleine terugblik naar de afgelopen 6 weken. Ik heb hier de tijd van mijn leven. Deze ervaring is ver boven mijn verwachting uitgekomen en er staan nog 9 weken op het programma waar ik dan maar dan ook uitgebreid van zal genieten. We zijn al een keer naar een pretpark geweest en meerdere keren naar het winkelcentrum. Daarnaast hebben we zelf een tripje gemaakt naar een klein strandje. Ontzettend rustig maar super gezellig! We zitten zelf nog te denken om als nederlanders groep een skydive avontuur aan te gaan. Zijn nog maar plannen maar kijk er nu al naar uit!

A small review from the past 6 weeks. I’ve got the time of my life here. The experice are better that i would ever expect. And there are still 9 weeks left on the program. Which I, Shall enjoy as much as I can. We’ve been to a amusement park and a couple of times to the mall. We even made a trip to a small beach. Very quiet but super fun!.We are even thinking as dutch group to go for skydiving! The are only plans, but i’m already looking forward!

Ik blijf hier nog wel van genieten! Wil je mijn berichten volgen online? Kijken op De teksten zijn wel in het nederlands maar via google chrome kan je alles vertalen tegenwoordig!

I still enjoy staying here! Would you like to follow my blog online? Look on The texts are in Dutch, but if you have google chrome you can translate everything nowadays!

Once-in-a-lifetime experiences, thanks to Access Adventures!

When Access Adventures first started in the early 1980’s, our first trips were only to our Recreation Center in Nanjemoy, Maryland. Nearly 30 years later, Access Adventures is still providing the same quality assisted travel, but with a vast array of destinations. Over the next 10 months, Access Adventures will take 20 vacations to locations as Atlantic City, Disney World, the Bahamas, and Las Vegas!

Access Adventures destinations are unique and unrivaled, but what really makes the trips magical are the experiences that are had. Last fall Cartina Dansby knew she was going on a cruise to the Bahamas. Little did she know that she would be in the ocean swimming with a dolphin, and even getting a smooch on the cheek from him. These once-in-a-lifetime opportunities are what Access Adventures is all about.

Cartina gets dolphin kisses in the Bahamas!

Last week, Access Adventures visited Virginia Beach for some summer fun. On that trip, was Mr. William Bagshaw. During his vacation William experienced a wealth of new memories and experiences. William tried Mexican food for the first time! William also went on a boat, watched jet-skis, and swam in the Atlantic Ocean, for the first time.

William (far left) poses for a photo at the Virginia Beach aquarium

Many of our travelers have never flown, met Mickey Mouse, spun a slot machine, visited the Statue of Liberty, or seen a professional basketball game. On an Access Adventures vacation, all of these – and more – are possible!

For more information on our program, visit our website or call us at 301-870-3226.

Celebrating Great Outdoors Month!

With summer camps starting, it’s only fitting that June is National Great Outdoors Month.  Thanks to an official proclamation by President Barack Obama, the entire month is dedicated to celebrating and cherishing our natural treasures and unique landscapes.

Amidst the Chesapeake Bay, Patuxent and Potomac Rivers, and numerous state parks, we are honored to be a part of Southern Maryland’s green-space.  We are proud to support Great Outdoors America Week 2012 and their initiatives. We are also excited to learn that over two dozen bills to protect open spaces have been introduced to Congress.

Besides contributing 108-acres of green-space to the community, the Melwood Recreation Center is committed to outdoor preservation through our operations and programming. Our single-stream recycling reduces plant sorting efforts, allows for more paper grade recycling, and reduces overall costs. Our limited vehicle use ensures that only programmatically-necessary vehicles are in use. Through our youth camp, Camp Accomplish, we continue to offer quality, intentional outdoor recreation for children of ALL ability levels. We also believe that healthy bodies make healthy minds and at Melwood Recreation Center, our goal is that every body that comes in leaves a little healthier.


Our friends at The Wilderness Society have spear-headed the Great Outdoors Week which concludes today. We encourage all our friends to LIKE them on Facebook and offer support in their ever-continuing quest to keep the great outdoors great!