Why sleep away camp isn’t as scary as it seems
Each year out on the recruitment trail you hear the ever-present answer, “Oh she isn’t ready for sleep away camp yet.” While daughter is tugging on her pant leg begging to do something different than the normal playing at the park or eating goldfish for snack every day. So, no mom, YOU aren’t ready for sleep away camp yet.
And believe it or not, that’s okay. Camps aren’t out to steal away your kids and never return them at the end of the summer. We simply want to cultivate their minds, introduce them to nature and allow them to take a step back from the television or computer screen for more than five minutes.
We understand that your child is your entire world and we would never do anything to jeopardize that, in fact most of us have kids of our own or are planning on building a family one day. We get that sending your most prized and beloved asset in life off to camp for a week or two or even a month is a terrifying thought: but don’t stress, we’ve got this.
Now sit back, relax, and let me tell you why sleep away camp is something your child needs:
The abundance of nature
Yes, we understand that you probably have trees in your backyard and that your cute little bean of a child has seen an ant pile before but at camp nature is different. We take hikes down by the streaming river and learn survival skills such as building fires or which plants are poisonous to our bodies. We let them build shelters and see what real wildlife is all about. Each day they spend at camp they are breathing in the sweet air of cypress trees and feeling the sunshine on their shoulders. We want them to break a sweat and realize that there is a world outside the four walls of their bedroom.
At camp there is no technology. Computers, iPads, cell phones, and anything in between don’t exist. Instead we prefer your child learn how to write an actual letter. We introduce this idea because honestly what is better than getting a letter from a loved one? Instead of them sending you a text that ends in “k” we encourage them to write home and truly let out what they have learned or done while at camp. It invigorates the senses and allows them to open their mind. Connect with emotions, vocabulary, and sense they didn’t know they could have until they put pencil to paper. With each passing day they are learning something new which allows them to send home a different story in every note.
When you take away all the screens to hide behind it means that you have to face your fears and learn how to communicate face-to-face. Nowadays kids are sending hundreds of Snapchats and texts a day which in theory is great to keep in touch, but are they really communicating? When they have a problem they have the option to just not answer their phone or send a reply. At camp if there is an issue they have to confront it right there—tackle it head on. Although it is scary to genuinely look someone in the eye and get a point across it helps build character, trust, and respect. Friendships can be made behind computer screens, yes. But bonds made with people in real life go further in life than you could dream possible.
Now, when thinking of role models, college kids probably aren’t the first thing that comes to mind. However, they will be the ones making the greatest impact on your child. For however long your child is at camp, the counselor will be everything to them, just like you are at home. They will be the parent, sibling, confidant, story teller, bug squisher, motivator, and so much more. These young adults are up at dawn and taking on each day to provide a safe yet fun and healthy environment for your child. They will make mistakes, it’s true—we all do. They will carry on each day to make sure they are a positive role model for your son or daughter and at the end of the summer they will be the one person your child can’t stop talking about.
Home Away from Home
Each year kids venture off to summer camp and never look back. It’s time for yours to do the same. Summer after summer the same kids head off to their respective camps. You’re probably wondering why and what keeps them going back. Let me tell you: it’s the adventure and new experiences that each summer offers. It’s the way that camp welcomes each child as they are. It’s the way that they have learned every scratch or limb of a tree but still search for something different. It’s the memories that they have made in the four walls of their cabin. It’s the way that they can sing or shout as loud as possible during songs in the dining hall. It’s the laughter around a campfire or soft tears they shed when they have to say goodbye after another sweet summer. It’s the way they meet new friends when they arrive at camp and welcome them in as if they had been there the entire time. It’s home. Summer camp is a home that makes a child feel safe and comfortable to be themselves, as it should be. It welcomes each person that walks through the gates a chance to discover who they want to be and change who they are if they so choose. Every summer it’s like coming home.
Moms and dads, we know sending your baby away to camp is a scary thought. It is for every parent, yet year after year people seem to wrangle enough strength to do it. Allow summer camp to change your child’s life. Let it shape their minds and help them form their own opinions about life. We can assure you that once you do it’ll be the best decision you have ever made for your child’s growth.
You will drop off one kid and pick up another.
So let go mom, you’re ready.