Tuesday, December 18, 2012

5 Rules of LOTL

We have thought long and hard and have come up with 5 great rules/suggestions/guidelines for how to support parents, volunteers, or counselors in training (CIT) when they are on our outings.

  1. Talk to the kids, not the adults
  1. Talk to the kids at their level
·      Adult conversations should be done in private or after the program

  1. Our main goal is to develop Relationships, thinking, and meaning, not compliance 
  1. Play so that you both have fun
·      Find the inner child in you

  1. When in doubt follow the Learning on the Log staff lead

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

How are you feeling today?

How are you feeling today? Happy!

Learning on the Log is very excited to announce that the Enrichment Pre-K has begun! This week, the major theme is feelings. In learning feelings, it is important for the child to know and understand the different types of feelings that he or she can experience:  happy, sad, angry, surprised, silly, confused, etc. Visuals allow children to see how each feeling differs from the other.  Aside of showing a picture, it is vital for the child to be able to imitate each feeling.  Through imitation, the child can experience and learn what he and others look like when they are feeling a certain way.  

Each morning during circle time, the children are asked how they are feeling that day and point to the picture that goes with their feeling. Through this process, a child learns to be able to first recognize what he is feeling and then be able to communicate and express it to others. This is such a huge part of building relationships with others! Because of this, Learning on the Log helps each child throughout the day to be able to recognize what they are feeling.  For example, if a child is upset a staff  member will make a clear statement to the child:  "You are upset." Such statement allows for the child to hear, process, and recognize what he is feeling which opens the door for communication and interaction with others. And, that is what it's all about--communicating with one another and helping one another!

What do you look like when you are sad?

Thursday, November 15, 2012

A twist to the game "duck, duck, goose!"

Anticipation builds: will he be chosen to be the goose?

Every child loves an old-fashioned game of duck, duck, goose! It is a simple game that gets every child to interact with one another.  We begin by getting the children to hold each other's hands and making a big circle.  Once the circle is big enough, everyone takes a seat.  Now, it is time for the action to begin! One child gets to go around the circle patting everyone on the head while saying "duck...duck..." until someone is chosen to be "goose." The child chosen to be goose must try to catch the child that chose him! If the child cannot catch him, he is now the one that must go around the circle saying "duck, duck...goose!"

At Learning on the Log, we always seek opportunities to challenge our kids a little bit further. In this case, we challenge the kids to use two different words. For example, instead of  saying "duck, duck, goose," the child could decide to use the words "choo, choo, train!"  This allows for each child to personalize the game according to their individual interests.  This way, both the staff and the kids get to share and learn more about each other. Simple twists and changes to games gives every child at Learning on the Log a whole new, different, and fun experience!

Run, run! Don't let him catch you!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Goofing off with friends!

Oh the days, when we were all kids and goofing off was a way of life! Some may have the mindset that acting silly and goofing off with a child does not carry any significant value, but Learning on the Log highly encourages such interactions with our kids. Why? Mainly because it has proven over and over again that these interactions engage the child immediately and help sustain the interaction in a fun, positive way! Not only that, but both the staff and the kids start to develop such a meaningful relationship--a FRIENDSHIP that simply started off with a smile and a good laugh.

What better way to be a friend (communicate, relate, and interact) to a child than by letting the inner child within you surface?

Here is a wonderful story that depicts that goofing off and acting silly strengthens the bond between friends. Before the start of a game of baseball, a staff member and a few kids were all talking with each other and having a good time. The staff member started to joke with a child that his t-shirt had to go! He was wearing a t-shirt with a college team that was not acceptable! To include every child that was there, the staff member decided to take a vote on who thought it would be a good idea for that t-shirt to be done away with and who did not. The voting was a way to allow everyone to participate, and the whole joke resulted in much laughter! In the end, it was just a couple of kids and a staff member enjoying each other's company and having some fun before a game just like any other team.

The next time you resist being silly or goofing off with a child, remember this:  you are missing out on such a special and great opportunity to strengthen your relationship with the child.  Not to mention, who doesn't love to see a child be overjoyed with happiness?

Enjoy the pictures below of friends goofing off together!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Slowing down the pace

At Learning on the Log, we are always encouraging kids to move and play and have fun! But, we are aware that the kids may also need time to wind down and slow the pace. In order to support our kids, several calming techniques are utilized:  sitting in a circle to have conversations, snack/water break, yoga, and much more! Our kids do such a fantastic job at carrying out each activity and game. Some have even overcame various challenges while playing. After working so hard, the best reward can be relaxation. Check out the different ways our kids take a break at Learning on the Log!


        Leaning on each other!


                                                      Snack and water break!


                                                          Talking with a friend!


                                           Sitting together under a colorful parachute!

After such simple ways to slow down the pace, the kids are ready for some more fun, action, and games!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


Getting ready to jump!

At our programs, we focus to emphasize the dynamics of team building and working together as a group. A simple way this is done is by including everyone in an activity: whether it is joining hands to jump into the pool at the same time or putting our hands in the middle to say a cheer together, the outcome is always the same:  each child feels like part of a team with his or her friends!

Although an activity such  as jumping in the pool together may be challenging for some children, we are always there to support each child. Even though jumping into the pool may seem like a simple task, our kids may have difficulty holding hands with others, waiting for the countdown to jump into the pool, and some may even be hesitant to jump.  When this occurs, our staff provide each child with the help they deserve and need: the kids get help to hold each other's hands, we talk to each child about listening for the countdown and when to jump, and we verbalize to those that are hesitant to jump that we will jump with them to have that individualized support. 

As a result, it comes down to this:  1..2..3..JUMP! The kids and staff jump into the pool, and a BIG SPLASH is made! Both the kids and staff come out from under the water with big smiles!

In the end, each child overcame their individual challenge while in a group setting that resulted in accomplishment and much fun with friends!

BIG smile after jumping!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

A walk down memory lane!

For the past eleven years, Learning on the Log has had great success. Many children have joined, have kept coming back, and they are still part of it all! We are extremely excited for the future of Learning on the Log, and we hope that all of you will be part of the journey to our expansion and growth.

Learning on the Log has had the opportunity to meet many kids and their families, and over the years, we have been able to be part of their lives. We have shared happiness and fun with each child! We have also helped each child overcome difficulties that have made our relationships stronger through communicating with one another. We have provided support, encouragement, and have shared the joy of kids accomplish both team and individual goals. Best part of Learning on the Log? 

We love that our social skills programs allow a fun environment for each child to build strong and meaningful relationships with other kids and our staff!

As the years pass by, we get to see the changes of every child. One thing remains constant: the happiness in their faces. That in turn, brings much happiness to Learning on the Log. Check out this video from a few years ago. Our kids have grown, but the fun is still continuing!

What are some of your favorite Learning on the Log memories? Share them with us!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Halloween: a time to practice social skills and have fun!


Tomorrow is Halloween! Halloween consists of  make-believe play, social interactions, and a lot of candy! It is a time to have fun, but for many of our kids it may be difficult to comprehend what Halloween is all about. Make sure to communicate with your child what happens on Halloween and what all takes place during the night:  costumes, trick or treating, candy, etc.  It may be more helpful  if a schedule is made in order for the child to know what to expect. Pictures can be added to the schedule to create a visual aid.

    Because kids are surrounded by other kids and adults, it is such an opportune time to encourage social skills.  Help your child interact with other children and help prepare them to properly go trick or treating.  Little LOTL is a great tool to use on this night! Little LOTL can be decorated before going trick or treating and can accompany your child. Explain to your child that Little LOTL is there to have fun with him or her and that he wants to make new friends! Be creative with Little LOTL, and utilize him to help you explain and provide comfort for your child during Halloween. And don't forget: take a picture with Little LOTL and your child while in Halloween costume and send it in to kathleen@learningonthelog.com!

Many exciting things are occurring during Halloween so if you can tell your child needs a break, give them one. It is essential to communicate and show  your child that if they feel overwhelmed at any time during Halloween you are there to support them.  


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The power of creativity

Getting ready for noodle chain train! 
(Kids grab on to their noodle and their friend's noodle beside them..forms a water train!)

Yesterday was the launch of session two for the fall! It has been so great to see new and familiar smiling faces! 

By the time  kids come to Learning on the Log, they have already had a full day of school where school work and meeting classroom expectations can sometimes become overwhelming. At our programs we aim for the kids to not only make new friends, communicate their feelings, and share their ideas, but also to have fun playing and trying new things. For this reason, our staff love to introduce new and exciting games! Creative games such as "Noddle Chain Train" allow kids to experience something completely different than they would at home or school. The outcome? The kids work together, accomplish a goal together, and more importantly, get to share the excitement of a new adventure!

A little creativity goes a long way in our programs because it opens up the door for new ways to interact and engage with others in a fun environment!

PVC pipes turned into a fun, new, and challenging obstacle course!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Commitment to our goals, makes us unique

Commitment to our goals, makes us unique

There are many aspects of our group programming that make us unique, but it is our commitment to our goals that set us apart. In order for a camper's experience to be meaningful, the activities need to be compelling and fun. With that thought in mind, our staff work with the formula of group dynamics + activity = goal achieved. For example, during our sports group the main idea is for the group to experience being part of a team sport such as soccer, baseball, kickball, and basketball. Within our time together, we do not simply dive into a large game, but rather tweak or adjust many drills or sports related activities. Decisions on specific games are based on reading the individual skill levels and the engagement of the group. In short, last week the engagement level of the group was high + half court team game = successful basketball experience.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

There is more to hiking, than just hiking

There is more to hiking, than just hiking

Ever wonder what goes on in the woods when you send your kids to Learning on the Log? As in all of our groups, the designated activity (hiking, swimming, tumbling, karate, etc.) is only the catalyst that brings the group together. What the kids actually learn and experience, is so much more than that. We have numerous games and activities to try, never the same activity twice. We play hide and seek, imaginative games like "pet shop", we utilize all of our different senses with games that require the kids to use only one sense at a time, we work on strength and balancing, we build boats out of materials we find in the woods and we launch them in the water, we challenge the kids to try things they might be uncomfortable with, and we support them through each and every one of these experiences. As there is in any group, fights and arguments break out, and kids have melt downs when things don't go their way. But we see these behaviors, as nothing more than a great opportunity to help the kids work through these complex emotions, and start to feel confident in communicating what is going on. They leave feeling like they have been heard, their opinions and their feelings matter, they can try new things and they will not be judged, they can fail and/or succeed and they will have all the support necessary to make it through. In the end, there is much more to "hiking" with Learning on the Log, than "just hiking". 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Team Work at it's finest

Team Work at it's finest

This activity was incredible. 
These kids had to hold onto the parachute-together, walk around the field-together, pick up objects without letting go of the parachute-together, and deposit the items to a designated area-together.
It took several attempts to make this all happen, but these kids kept trying and trying until they got it right. They had to be reminded to not use their hands, to communicate the direction they were moving, to not move too fast or too slow, to keep the parachute at a certain height so as not to drop the item, etc. But they did it! 
At Learning on the Log, we know that all children should be challenged, and you should expect that they can succeed, no matter what their needs are. The kids we work with can meet higher expectations, just like any other kids, they just might need some additional support.
This theory was proved in this particular exercise, and we see it proven every single day.
We challenge them to try new things and to do things that are difficult and sometimes scary, but they try and with support, they accomplish the task. Sometimes they do fail or come in last, but this just gives us an opportunity to help them deal with these hard feelings and they leave with tools that help them cope. They also leave with more confidence that they can try new things and they can rejoice when they succeed, but even if they don't, they still feel good because they tried and they did their best......just like anyone else. 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Good bye Summer Camp

Goodbye Summer, we are sad to see you go

But, HELLO School year and all the joys of Fall

We are excited to get back into the swing of things

Goodbye Summer Camp, but HELLO Fall

Our School year programs are here! With that, we have to say goodbye to summer. Within this transition, we welcome back many kids from past programs, as well as say hello to new campers.  There is no choice but to reflect back on the summer that was amazing and what to look forward to in the Fall.
Here are some highlights:
In the Summer, we get to go on the boats every week, we get to enjoy the outdoor pool and soak up the  sun when we need a break, we get to play at the "beach" of the Chattahoochee,  we get to enjoy all the leaves on the trees and colors in the woods, we get to lather on sunscreen over and over and over, we get to see old friends and the special summer staff, and most of all, we get to play play play!
In the Fall, we see the leaves change colors and fall from the trees, we can explore the caves and play hide and seek, we learn about musical instruments and have dance parties, we swim indoors and get to jump off the diving blocks, we DON'T have to lather on sunscreen over and over and over, we get to catch up with old friends and meet new ones, we get to practice our Karate moves, and we learn new sports skills.
The common theme in all of our programs is making friends, communicating our feelings, sharing our ideas, playing and trying new things, and having fun!

---Come on out and join us this year---

Friday, August 24, 2012

Simple Entertainment

August 24, 2012
Simply Entertaining and Endearing

When we are on the boats, we spend a lot of time just hanging out and enjoying each other. Take a look at this video and the simple enjoyment our campers find with the every day tasks at camp (like applying sunscreen). 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Toys at Camp?

August 22, 2012
Toys at Camp?

Many programs frown upon allowing their campers to bring toys with them from home. For several reasons, some of which might be: "the kids only play by themselves if they have a special toy" "they won't join the games and won't share their toy" "the other kids will be upset they don't have a toy" "it will isolate the camper" etc. Well, at Learning on the Log, we deal with this issue on a regular basis. Kids struggle to let go of a toy they had in the car or were playing with at home and they are "stuck" on  "needing" to keep it with them throughout the day. We have found a way to use this to our advantage though, and end up with great group games. If a child has a toy they want to bring to camp, we too struggle to teach them to share or want to come out of their isolation to play in group games. So, instead of fighting against it, we decided a long time ago, to either help the child learn to negotiate the use of their toy within our games, communicate "why" they "need" their toy with them that day, or we incorporate their toy INTO our games that day. On this particular day, we had a child that did not want to leave his "Thomas" behind in the car and there was a big melt down when other children asked to play with him. This offered us an incredible opportunity to sit the group down and talk about what was going on, why kids were upset, and how we could turn those feelings around and use them in productive ways. So, the group then worked together to build an obstacle course FOR "Thomas" where all the kids got to be involved and they shared and they had a blast. They learned cooperation, negotiation, communication, and creative thinking

What are some ways you have learned to be creative with your child, to allow them to express their interests and needs, and avoiding a power struggle?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Experiencing new adventures

August 21, 2012
Experiencing new adventures

When you were a kid did you go out and search for caves, play in the woods, and make slides out of huge rocks? Did you ride your bike or play in your back yard or in the neighborhood? Did you stay out until it grew dark and you were "forced" to come inside for food or a bath? Most of us did, and it is those experiences that we can credit for our creativity and imaginative ideas and our ability to "think outside the box", as adults. Unfortunately, many kids today don't experience things like that on a regular basis, especially if you live in the city. Our culture has changed and most kids are indoors watching television, playing video games, or they are locked into after school activities where everything is structured FOR them. They are used to being entertained and they start to look for that in every situation, rather than using their imaginations to think up new games or find something to do when they are bored. At Learning on the Log, we have some structured activities, but for the most part, our days are filled with trying new things, coming up with new activities, looking for "props" out in nature that we can use for games, and we give the kids the opportunity to suggest new things and help to guide the games. They use their imaginations, "no idea is a bad idea"; they are challenged to think outside the box, "how can we use those rocks and these trees to introduce a new game"; they use their imaginations, "we are building a fort in the woods for the bears and alligators to live in when we leave". These experiences are so important for these kids. They are learning that they don't need video games to entertain them when they are bored. They are learning how to use whatever is around them to start a game. They are learning to work together with a group of other kids to engage in new games, and even though that is hard because they don't know how it will turn out, that is real life

Monday, August 20, 2012

Music in the woods

August 20, 2012
Music in the woods

We love trying new things, to see if we can utilize ordinary items, and turn them into a fun, educational, and social game......usually in the woods. One activity we have found, that the kids love, is to bring musical instruments with us on our hikes. The kids get to pick out their favorite, from rhythm sticks to drums to whistles to triangles to spoons and egg shakers. Unfortunately we have found that all string instruments tend to get broken, so we don't use those anymore :) The way we make this social, is by encouraging the kids to explore different sounds as they use the instruments in the traditional way, and then we use them on trees, under piles of leaves, in the dirt, etc. Sometimes we will have a dance party, where each child gets the chance to stand in front of the group, where they get to dance freely while their friends are playing music for them. They get to take turns and express their individuality as they are dancing. Then we play hide and seek, blind, where they have to use their ears to find their friends, instead of their eyes. The kids that are "hiding" sound their instrument to give the seeker a hint of where to "look". There are hundreds of ways we can use everyday materials, in a not so traditional way. We always tell our staff that we are limited, only by our imaginations! 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Spray is Better

Spray is Better

The other week we ran out of spray sun tan lotion and had to use our back up cream lotion.  In theory there should not be a big difference between the two, but reality proved something very different.  Generally, many summer time campers reluctantly allow the spray to be put on them, so the cream lotion proved to push their limits.  Staff was diligent in making sure adequate protection was used and that meant sometimes using a bit too much.  Like in the picture above, many were in disbelieve over seeing so much white stuff on their bodies, and one commented: "I am never doing this again."  Even after jumping into the pool the lotion was visible for some time.  Throughout the swim time there were many conversations about how uncomfortable this lotion was and how would it ever disappear.  Thankfully plenty of spray bottle were brought back to the pool, and that kind of situation was avoided.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

I did it!!!

I DID IT!!!!!!!!

There are so many challenges placed in front of our campers, each and every day. And the accomplishment our campers feel and express when they try and try and try again until they succeed, is priceless. They get the biggest smiles on their faces, many times they throw their hands up in the air with a "victory" stance, they run and hug their favorite counselor, they high five their new friends, and they revel in the cheers and clapping of the whole group. Physical challenges are even more of a challenge, for many of our campers, than they are for typical kids. Many of our campers struggle with focus, low muscle tone, lack of coordination, processing issues, lack of impulse control, etc. So, when they succeed in a task that we have set up for them, IT IS A BIG DEAL. And we make sure they feel that importance. We want them to know, without a shadow of a doubt, that we know how hard it was for them to accomplish these tasks, and just how proud of them we are. We try to share these accomplishments with parents at the end of each day, so they are then able to celebrate again with their child, and the kid's proud feelings are reinforced again. 
What are some challenging tasks your child accomplished this week? Did you celebrate and show them, tell them, and cheer for them?

Friday, August 17, 2012

Life Guard Feedback

Life Guard Feedback

The Emory University life guards commented several times, to several people,  how much they enjoyed our group at their pool this summer.  Apparently other summer camp groups have been a bit more rambunctious than our group, and have had a harder time following directions.  One big reason for this positive feedback is due our staff doing a great job of engaging with all of the campers in fun and meaningful activities.  When interactions and relationships are meaningful, more effort is made to extend and/or duplicate these experiences.  It doesn't matter if it is water gun fighting, jumping into the pool, being thrown up into the air, or simply having a conversation these activities seem to be worth being a part of.  Second reason is how great our camp groups have been.  Each camper has been enthusiastic and happy to be at camp, and have enjoyed building many different relationships.  Positive relationships motivate all of us, and these life guards have definitely enjoyed seeing many relationships grow and flourish.  

Thursday, August 16, 2012

LOG Wear

LOG Wear

We have always run our programs on a limited budget and have therefore been very limited in what we could give back to families, in the sense of material items. For the first several years, we squeezed some t-shirts into our budget, but each child was only given one.....that's right, one shirt......for the whole year. Two years ago, we partnered with a printing company and they gave us hats and magnets which we were able to share with our families, as well as t-shirts, and we were able to give each camper a new t-shirt Each Week. We were very excited about that addition, but it was still a struggle to feel free to give things away, as much as we wanted to. Then this year.....we decided to reach out to all of you, and ask if anyone would like to be an apparel sponsor.....the response was TREMENDOUS, so much more than we ever expected. You surpassed our ask, and we felt so tremendously blessed by all of you and how much you were happy to support us. So, this summer, for the very first time, we were so excited to send campers home with a variety of items. T-shirts, hats, pens, water bottles, lunch boxes, beach towels, etc. We are going to be able to continue to give away items all year as well!! Again, a first for us. We will also offer these items for sale pretty soon, so be on the lookout for a LOTL online store in the future. 100% of the proceeds raised, will go to a staff continuing education fund. 
What apparel do you want to see in the future?

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Throwing and Flipping

August 15, 2012
Throwing and Flipping

Many of the boys (some girls) love the thrill of being either thrown or flipped in the air.  They report loving the sensation of shooting up from the water and flying though the air.  They seek out staff for a turn and want it repeated over and over again.  This activity has proven to be so motivating that staff can stretch engagement longer than usual.  Conversations about like and dislikes are discussed, clarification of wether to thrown or flipped is articulated, and relationships are strengthened.  In the end, the most important aspect of this fun activity is the amount of practice interacting and relating that is being done, and due to the high level of motivation campers will work harder to get this thrilling experience.