It’s Getting Fishy……

I am sure most of you know about Surprise Lake Camp’s affinity for fish.  Some might think I am a Pisces, I am not.  I am an Aries, and yet my office is a virtual fishtank!  If they actually change the astrological signs (as they said on the news a few weeks ago), I would be a Pisces.  Of course… that would just be fate!  Everywhere you look around my office there are fish!  Up in camp I have a light up virtual fishtank hanging on the wall.  People gift me with fish all the time.  I have a fish with a clock in its belly, I have beany fish, fishing games, big fish, small fish, red fish, blue fish…you name it, I have it.  Until recently, I had a real fish named Fin, who lived for 18 months. Fin traveled from Cold Spring to NYC twice!  I miss him terribly.

For those of you not familiar with the FISH Philosophy, please check out this link, which will help you to understand.  We have been using the Fish philosophy for the past 4 summers and this year it is going to be BIGGER and BETTER!  A WOW in every sense of the word.  The Philosophy is pretty simple. It is made up of 4 basic principles.  PLAY.  BE THERE.  MAKE THEIR DAY.  CHOOSE YOUR ATTITUDE.  See?  I told you it was easy!  The idea is that this philosophy creates an atmosphere filled with fun and energy!  It is about taking care of each other and building a wonderful community.  Camp is a perfect fit! 

When we began using fish it was a tool to train the staff, but it has taken on a life of its own and is now part of the culture.  In 2007, we showed the video and gave each member a fish finger puppet and they were encouraged to wear the fish whenever and however they could.  The campers began asking what they fish were about and how they could earn one.  What did they need to do?  We then found ourselves ordering fish for the campers.  We continued this in 2008 and upgraded from fingerpuppets to fish necklaces.  Once again, campers began reporting the wonderful things they did that warranted them receiving a fish, and towards the end of that summer, campers even began asking for fish for their friends!  “David helped to clean when someone else was having trouble”  and “Jessica taught me a new lanyard stitch” and so on.  Year after year we have changed the fish!  (The only poor fish choice was the light up necklace that we got one year… it wasn’t so great when people tried to swim!)

This summer, not only are we bringing back the fish, but we are WOWing the fish.  What does that mean?  Well, there are 4 principles, so we will have 4 “fishtags” . . . . that is, one for each principle.   Each tag will have a fish and a principle with “SLC 2011” engraved on it!  I don’t know about you but I want to collect all 4!  I don’t think that obtaining all 4 in one summer will be an easy task, but I do believe that over time, campers will have an opportunity to collect all 4 (maybe over a few summers)

I have to admit, I was not sure that everyone shared my “passion” for fish, but at a recent open house a new camper (who just signed up) asked me if I had a fish for her.  I asked how she knew about fish and her response was “everyone knows about the fish!”  That young lady made my day . . . and perhaps she will get the first tag!

I wonder what sort of contest we could have to see who gets the FIRST EVER FISH TAG?  They will be arriving on April 5th.  Hmmm…..maybe an essay contest.  Maybe something better.  Keep your eyes open to see how to get the “catch of the day.”

Oh… and here is a sneak peak! 


FISH 2011



  1. carolyn support · · Reply

    this really is a “wow” idea…i am really “bubbling” over with excitement! woo hoo!!!


    1. I like it too!!!
      Need to come up with a first fish contest…maybe an essay or something fishy…..


  2. fishgottabirdsgotta · · Reply

    I like it…a lot!!

    .02 – instead of just an essay contest, how about a creative submission contest….could be essay, poetry, drawing/painting,
    object d’arte
    theme ideas:
    why surprise lake is the best place on earth?
    how the fish philosophy shows jewish values
    why i live for summer
    I ❤ SLC


  3. I wonder what I will have to do to get the tags…i really want one already!


    1. What should we do???


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