From Camp to IKOS!


Mina is a Park City High School Senior. She was a CIC camper for nine years, including two-weeks as a Camper in Leadership Training in 2012. In 2013 she was a Counselor in Training. She is returning in 2014 as a Counselor in Training II. Today, she shares with us a story we find fascinating and think that you will also. IKOS is an engineering project. The project is now raising money through Kickstarter to go into production. You’ll find the link at the bottom of the page to learn more. Congatulations Mina!

I was eight years old my first year at Catalina Island Camps. As a young camper, I was afraid to experience new things like snorkeling, rock climbing, and simply being away from my parents for two weeks. Camp placed me in a new environment and offered countless opportunities to go outside my comfort zone in a safe but challenging way.

IKOS pieces

Taking those experiences into my educational life, as senior year was approaching I was having a very hard time choosing what courses to take. A new engineering program at the Park City Center for Advanced Professional Studies (PCCAPS) was being offered. I had the choice to either play it safe or take a chance and participate in this new program.

After choosing PCCAPS, I met Mike Wong, the mentor and head engineer behind IKOS. Our IKOS team consisted of myself and two other high school students and we were challenged to invent something new and creative. And that’s how IKOS came to be.

IKOS Sphere

Put simply, IKOS are a modular, spherical construction toy for inventors of all ages. They are named IKOS because of their geometry: icosahedrons on spheres. With one standard shape, users can create everything from a full sphere to abstract curved creations. When you want to enhance your creation, snap pieces together vertically to create anything you wish. You can design anything you can dream up by adding other items or painting the sphere to create a unique and customizable 3D puzzle.

IKOS Desk Lamp

Each day at IKOS I work to incorporate the principles I learned at CIC. Principles like respect for environment: because we are dedicated to making IKOS from 100% recycled HDPE, we are turning milk jugs and other plastic containers into the toy of the 22nd century. Principles like it’s important to think and venture into new experiences: IKOS are more than a building toy; they are a revolutionary way of thinking.

IKOS are perfect for any age or background because you can expand on your designs when you are ready and when you feel confortable. IKOS have no instruction manual or suggested creations.  A set of IKOS and an imagination can take you as far as you wish!

IKOS Animal

For a detailed presentation about IKOS check out our Kickstarter page. You can fund the project for as little as $1. Please support the spherical revolution by pledging or sharing this page with friends! Thank you!

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Learn about CIC At Meet and Greets

Come learn about Catalina Island Camps from Tom and Maria Horner and the CIC staff on March 11 or March 27 at 7 pm at the CIC offices 707 W. Woodbury Rd Unit F Altadena CA 91001.

We’ll show camp videos, talk about the benefits of camp and answer questions.

Parents are welcome to bring their children as well.

The first 20 people to RSVP will also receive a free copy Of Tina Payne Bryson’s book The Whole Brain Child. Tina Bryson was a keynote speaker at the American Camp Association Conference this year.

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#CampChat March 6 CONNECT Transcript

Our #CampChat on Twitter last night was full of great insights about how kids CONNECT at camp. Travis Allison of  was our guest expert and he brought along with him many of the camp directors from the Facebook group CampPros.

Here’s the full transcript of the night. Here are some highlights from Travis.

Join us next week on Wednesday March 12 as we talk abuout the things kids DISCOVER at camp.


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Catalina Island Camps hosts #CampChat on Twitter during March

#CampChat is a one hour weekly Twitter gathering of parents, camps and youth development experts to discuss summer camp. #CampChat topics address the benefits of camp and practical preparations for camp.

This year’s topics are; “The Benefit of Camp”, “Unplugging Kids at Camp”, “Making Connections at Camp”, “Discovery at Camp”, “Preparing Yourself and your Child for Camp” and “Packing for Camp”.

#CampChat experts include Peg Smith, CEO of the American Camp Association, Dr. Chris Thurber, Chicka Elloy, and Travis Allison. Our moderator is Ciaran Blumenfeld whose blog  is read across the internet by thousands of readers. She poses questions to Catalina Island Camps and our experts.  Learn more on her blog about #campchat.

Future #CampChat Dates are March 6, March 12, March 19 and March 26. All Chats are at 7 PM Pacific Time.

To join us, log into to and search for the hashtag #CampChat at 7 PM Pacific time. You can follow along or join the conversation.

You can also review past #CampChat transcripts here:

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I’ve been thinking about my first years as a camper.

I first went to camp when I was seven. I was a handful. My energy was boundless. My attention span was fleeting. At home, my parents always found me by the trail of chaos I left behind me. No one really ever knew exactly what I was up to, and most of the time I wasn’t telling!

Camp was my rabbit hole. When I went to camp the world changed. I found a place where I could be myself. I was part of a group. No one teased me.

Every summer my counselor was the greatest man alive!

I learned to ride a horse and swim in a pool. We made a fort together in the vast wilderness that we called the Desert. One summer I got to make the flag we hid in our fort.

I came home at night and couldn’t stop talking about camp. I fell asleep during dinner. Camp was a magic elixir for my parents.

Today, as a camp owner and director, I want parents and kids to have magical camp experiences.

Unplug, Connect and Discover.

In 1968, I didn’t need to unplug. We only had 13 channels on the TV and there was an annoying cord on the phone. An app was what you filled out for a job. We played through our imagination. We made our own rules and when we disagreed, we figured out the solutions ourselves.

At camp I connected with boys my age. I looked up to counselors and wanted to grow up just like them. There were so many powerful connections at camp for me. Nature. Horses. Dirt. Songs. Games. Stories.

Today’s campers need the world I grew up in 40 years ago. They need time away from computer screens video games and smartphones.

They need a break from tutors and enrichment and schedules. They need to connect face to face and discover their world “IRL” from the ground up.

Camp still creates the same connections today. Those connections build interpersonal skills that kids need to grow up as effective students, productive employees and happy, healthy adults. Camp built connections give kids resilience.

A camp parent told me this week that the whole reason his daughter was successful in college was because of her experiences at CIC. Her experiences at camp gave him the confidence to send her to another state to follow her dreams.

Businesses call the skills camps develop 21st century skills and wish more young employees came out of college prepared for the workplace.

A child’s world is full of discovery.

At camp I discovered a safe place. I discovered a place I could explore. A place we created together as a group of kids. I discovered a world beyond school and home that I could call my own.

Today campers need experiences like camp to complement their academic education and prepare to enter the workforce. Skills like collaboration, critical thinking communication and creativity are central to the camp experience.

Today we Discover life on an island full of sunshine, wind, sand and the outdoors.

While camp is a special place, what happens at camp is what is important.  At camp we discover amazing things about ourselves. We discover we can be good at difficult things we didn’t know we could do. Things we wouldn’t try in a less supportive environment. At camp, we discover we can be responsible, independent and a good friend.

Camp is more than fun and games. Camp builds the skills children need to grow up, navigate college and contribute to their community.

Come to camp. Unplug, Connect and Discover.

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What campers tell each other about the camp experience

Sunday night, we invited our older campers to stay after closing campfire to share about their CIC experiences.

It’s impressive when a teenager will stand in front of their peers and talk about the feelings they experienced during camp.

They stood in the dying light of the campfire, in front of the campers and counselors who had become their friends during the last two weeks. For some the words came quickly. Some knew they had something to say and the words were harder to find. Several repeated what others said before them. None of that mattered as they were talking about why the experience they shared was so meaningful to them.

Camp is a powerful experience and last night confirmed that fact more deeply for me.

One of our counselors, who is a former camper, shared about the first time he saw camp, and how he knew instantly it was a magical place. That was eight years ago. He’s now delivering the magic to others.

One camper shared how her four weeks at camp had opened her eyes to new friends and experiences. She did things she never thought she would or could do. Now she envisions a time when she is a counselor and can share those same experiences with younger campers.

Another camper described moving to California and struggling to make new friends until she came to camp. Camp is her safe place. She can come here and know that she is with friends and can be herself.

Campers talked about the friends they made and the things they accomplished. They told others they loved them and that they considered camp to be their family.

A first-year camper talked about his friend who cancelled at the last minute, leaving him to come alone. He had resigned himself to being alone at camp. He was stunned at how easily everyone became friends and how he was actually never lonely at camp.

Several campers talked about counting down the days to when camp starts every year. One boy described how his parents questioned his countdown when they had a spectacular family vacation planned. Camp trumped the European vacation. I asked the group who else counted down the days; most hands went up.

The most significant topic to me was how kids escape from the drama of home and school at camp. How easy it is at camp to be yourself without judgment or criticism. It doesn’t matter if you’re from Los Angeles, Phoenix or France. Drama rules teenager’s lives in many ways and they treasure the escape that camp universally gives them.

The majority of these campers went home Monday. I asked them to think about how to take their camp experience home with them. I challenged them to keep camp alive with them the rest of the year. There are 120 new campers joining the 20 who are staying for four weeks. I wonder what they’ll have to say in two weeks.

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Play or Internship?

Peg Smith, CEO of the American Camp Association, ponders on the value of play and a counselor’s role. Is it play or is it an internship? I think it’s both. What do you think?


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Summer Camp: Can it make kids more responsible?

Summer Camp: Can it make kids more responsible?

Summer Camp Jobs for teens and college students are a great way to develop 21st century skills. I’d argue that camp jobs train young people in a way that brings about incredible learning in a very short period of time. Take a read and let us know what you think.


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Catalina Island Conservancy visits CIC

 Conservancy visits CIC

Visit the Catalina Island Conservancy Newsletter for an article about their visit to Howlands Landing during Jean-Michel Cousteau Family Camp in August.

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Upcoming CIC Twitter Chats

Catalina Island Camps and Momfluential are hosting 3 twitter events over the next few weeks. Here’s the post from her blog .

Are you sending your kids to camp this summer? Are you considering camp for you kids? Hop on Twitter and let’s talk! Catalina Island Camp & I invite you to join us for three camp themed #CAMPChat conversations. Mark your calender for May 15 & 23rd at 10 am PST & May 29th at 8pm PST.

I will be sending all four of my kids to camps this summer. Three of them will be attending an overnight camp. For my almost 8 year old son, this will be his first sleep away summer camp experience. I’m thrilled for him to have the chance to attend Catalina Island Camps, a camp that reminds me in many ways of my own “classic” camp experience.

Making the decision to send kids to camp is one that many parents wring their hands over. Making the decision to send kids to an overnight camp, in particular can be a tough decision. But also an exciting one. Lifelong friendships are formed at camp. Lifeskills are learned. Opportunities to try new things and grow abound at camp!

Camp was such a vital part of my youth that I am really looking forward to co-hosting and promoting a multi-part chat on twitter about the joy of camp. I hope you’ll join me and share your experiences & questions as we discuss everything camp. We’ve assembled a team of experts: Camp owners, former camp counselors, Camping Association representative & Camp Outfitters who can share their thoughts on how to best choose, pack, plan and prepare for the summer camp experience.

We’re sharing some great prizes with our attendees too – stuff sure to make your camp experience even more fun. So curl up with some smores and login to you twitter accounts. #CampCHAT will be fun! All that is missing is the Bonfire.

Follow #CAMPChat using TweetGrid for #CAMPChat with your twitter account or by copying this link into your browser:

TO RSVP for #CampCHAT:

Visit Catalina Island Camp’s Facebook Events tab to RSVP. Then invite your friends from camp and your friends who are considering summer camp this year. We look forward to meeting and chatting with you all!

#CAMPChat is brought to you by Catalina Island Camps, with prizes from the following awesome camp-centric sponsors

Camp Chat Sponsors:

• – An online hub for kids, parents and camp professionals to connect, share and shop.
•Liberty Clothing – Camp clothes
•Nature Watch – Nature themed craft kits
•Mabel’s Labels -Peel and stick labels
•UVSkinz – Solar protective swimwear & clothing
•Everything Summer Camp – Resource for camp supplies

May 15th, 10am PST: Preparing for Camp
We’ll discuss what to pack and how to prepare for camp. Do you really have to label everything? What should (shouldn’t) you send in a care package, How much sunscreen is enough? What can you do to make kids feel less homesick, what sorts of things shouldn’t you pack? What are some of the latest and greatest items for camp this summer (day camp and sleepaway)

Hosted by:

•Catalina Island Camps:@CatIslandcamps
•Momfluential: @Momfluential
Special Guest Panelists:

•Michele Branconier Executive Director American Camp Association So Cal/Hawaii Area. : @mbranconier
•Julie Cole: Co-founder of Mabel’s Labels Inc. and proud mom of six kids, three whom are happy campers!: @juliecole
•Natalie Klein Publisher of Hollywood Hot Moms, mom of two, seasoned former camp counselor and summer camp director: @HollywoodHotMom

May 23 , 10 am PST : Why Camp Rocks! The Many Benefits of Summer Camp
Why send your kids to camp? We’ll discuss why camp matters, who should go to camp, why camp is different from school, what’s special about the experiences we/our kids have at camp, and what camp can do for kids. We’ll also share some of our favorite camp memories and camp photos.

Special Guest Panelists:

•Michele Branconier Executive Director American Camp Association So Cal/Hawaii Area. : @mbranconier
•Michael Brandwein, Speaker, Educator, Author & presenter of three Emmy® award-winning television programs called Parenting Puzzle on communicating with children. Michael is a former national board member of the American Camp Association: @brandwein
•Natalie Klein Publisher of Hollywood Hot Moms, mom of two, seasoned former camp counselor and summer camp director:@HollywoodHotMom
Want to find out more about Catalina Island Camps? Visit the Catalina Island Camps website and check out their camp themed Pinterest boards.

May 29th, 8pm PST: Topic TBD

Hosted by:

•Catalina Island Camps:@CatIslandcamps
•Momfluential: @Momfluential

Special Guest Panelists:

•Tiffany Romero, Camp owner and Founder of SITS & Bloggy Boot Camp: @TiffanyROM
•Rhonda Sparks, Mom of 5 & founder of UVSkinz: @UVSkinz
•Natalie Klein Publisher of Hollywood Hot Moms, mom of two, seasoned former camp counselor and summer camp director: @HollywoodHotMom
•Sarah Auerswald, founder of MomsLA & mom of 2 campers: @SAuerswald

Disclosure: This post and chat series are part of a compensated campaign. All opinions, goofy camp photos and personal tales of camp are my own.

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