The Monkey Business Way
We started Monkey Business Camp to nurture the creativity and individuality of each child in a loving and magical environment. We develop programs to achieve a balance between structure and spontaneity, to provide for the varied needs and interests of campers, and to build a powerful, peaceful, fun-loving community.
To these ends, we have developed a holistic approach to how we run our camps:
Loving the Planet
We are proud to count ourselves among the growing ranks of organizations dedicated to creating a culture of sustainability. The most important way we do this is by hosting camp outdoors. Studies have shown that when children have memorable, fun experiences in nature, those memories not only sustain them, but also inspire them to fight for the natural world. We are creating a camp culture where it is “cool” to be green! We do art projects using recycled materials, build our drama sets out of almost 100% used wood and cardboard, show examples of alternative energy such bicycle-powered smoothie blenders, and bring in naturalists to share their knowledge of the plant and animal life in Tilden Park. In 2009, we became a certified Green business!
As any of our campers will tell you, the number one rule at Monkey Business is having fun. Fun is incredibly important and often undervalued in children’s development of social, cognitive and emotional skills. People in our culture often complain that they “don’t know how to have fun.” Younger people often have a very full schedules and little time for unstructured activity. At Monkey Business Camp we want to impart to our campers how easy it is to have fun and, in the grand scheme, to equip them with the knowledge of how to create fun for themselves whenever they want. We do this through art projects, alternative and traditional games and sports, going on treasure hunts, reading books, appreciating the outdoors, going swimming, and so much more!
We are committed to making a camp experience that is extraordinary for children and families from all sorts of backgrounds. All of our staff members attend a diversity training in June, where we focus on awareness of ways to be more inclusive in terms of the language we use and the kind of activities we provide at camp. We also look at ways of dealing with children’s biases and the conflicts those can create. Our dream is to create a camp and a world where no one is hurtfully targeted because of what they look like or who they are.
We know that conflicts will always arise at camp. We do not believe that conflicts are the result of anyone being “bad” or even that it is important to find someone who is “at fault.” Rather, we see conflicts as the result of someone’s (or everyone’s) needs not being met. At camp that means that we do not use methods like time-outs to punish kids for “misbehaving,” but instead we work with the child(ren) to make sure that everyone’s needs are getting met. Sometimes children do need to sit out, and cool out, if they have not been respectful toward another child or the group, but we work on finding out the underlying reason for a child’s behavior and work with parents to address. All of our staff are trained in teaching conflict resolution to children.
Appreciating Different Learning Styles
We believe strongly that every person has a unique mind and spirit and that no one activity or approach will be engaging to every child at camp. Howard Gardner’s work on developing a “multiple intelligences” model of how people learn is foundational to the way we structure camp. We strive to provide experiences that are exciting to all parts of all kinds of kids, and to make sure that all kids know that they are valuable and intelligent people.
We are incredibly proud to serve nearly 100% organic snacks at our camp! Almost all of the treats, edible projects, and hearty afternoon snacks for extended care campers are organic and as local as possible. Not only that, but we have a very attentive eye to the amount of sugar we have at camp. While we have grown more lax since the days when we allowed no sugar at our camp, we do believe that camp is an excellent place to experience healthy eating, especially if that’s a bit different than normal! We also have a strict policy to make sure all campers sit down for at least fifteen minutes while they eat lunch to have nice, easy digestion and to take a break from their incredibly active days!
In the entire 11 years that we’ve been holding camp and serving close to one thousand kids, we have a stellar safety record. It is one of primary goals that kids are not only safe at camp, but that they (and you!) feel safe about being at camp. Most importantly for safety is our high ratio of staff to campers- 1:7 at our ages 3-4 site; 1:8 at our ages 5-7 site; and 1:11 for our ages 8-10 and our Girls on the Go! Program. Additionally we have a strong youth leadership program which provides 2-5 trained youth leaders per site. All of our counselors are certified in CPR and all leaders also trained in first aid. In addition we have developed a number of site-specific safety procedures that all our counselors are trained in.