James Falstrom didn’t like summer day camp as a kid, but he decided to give it a second chance as an adult. In 2011, a fellow teacher and camp director made James an offer to be a Teen Travel Director at Oasis Drew University summer camp, and he’s been coming back ever since.
James became the director at Oasis Drew University summer camp in 2016, and puts his skills as a middle school teacher with a master’s degree in educational psychology to good use at Oasis. Seventeen years as a teacher has taught James how to deal with any surprises that may arise at camp and how to speak to children – and their parents - in a way they’ll understand.
Located on the bucolic campus of Drew University, summer camp at Oasis in Madison offers a variety of programs for children ages three through 15. James makes it a priority for every child to have the best summer of their life in a safe, fun and inclusive environment, and is excited for what next summer will bring.
Keep reading to find out what James loves about his job and learn about his favorite experiences at Oasis summer day camp.
What do you love about being a camp director?
I’m trying to create the camp that I would have loved as a kid, and Oasis summer day camp offers so much for children to do. Every camper is exposed to new things and can try them in a safe atmosphere. It’s an amazing experience where kids can unplug, connect and discover.
One of my favorite parts of this job is being a mentor. Many of our best counselors are former campers, and I love being able to mentor the next generation of mentors. I’m happy to write recommendations and open new doors for these amazing kids and young adults.
What are your favorite things that happen on a typical day at camp?
There's obviously nothing wrong with being able to swim at work, but the idea is more about having fun in order to give the kids and counselors permission to do the same. If an adult can prioritize fun over coolness, it doesn't leave a lot of room for the kids to be uptight, whether they're 14 years old or four years old.
I also love visiting our youngest campers in preschool and lower camp because I’m not around kids that age during the school year. These children have such a pure happy vibe that’s so refreshing to be around.
Why do you think kids love attending Oasis summer day camp?
All of the staff that supervises the programming at camp are professional educators, and this leads to a level of quality the kids can sense even if they can't explain it. The campers really get to know and trust the staff each summer.
Oasis is also a place where fun is a top priority, and that's become far too rare as school and sports teams have become more and more competitive. Plus, our summer day camp is on the beautiful Drew University campus, with amazing facilities and more than 100 acres of magical nature trails and preserves.
Why would you recommend that students become an Oasis camp counselor?
Being a camp counselor gives young adults a chance to meet people they might never have crossed paths with otherwise. It’s an opportunity to step out of their comfort zone and interact with a diverse group of kids and adults every day.
Counselors learn life skills such as emotional management and how to coexist with others even when they might be frustrated. And camp is a place where you can make lifelong friendships and learn about yourself in an environment that prioritizes fun and community.
Tell us about a favorite memory from camp this summer.
Bringing a petting zoo come to camp was one of my favorite experiences. I’m always looking for new activities to try and I love animals, but seeing the joy the campers and counselors experienced with the animals was the best. There were bunnies, big and small turtles, a pony, and some very friendly goats. It was fun having the animals with us at camp all day.
What are you most excited about returning to camp for the 2020 season?
I'm excited for new programs such as cooking classes and updating the sports and games programming. For me, it's all about keeping it fresh for our returning campers and exciting for our new campers, so there’s a good mix of comforting familiarity and brand new fun.
Please rotate your device