Monetarily perhaps, but we look at camp as an investment because the lifetime skills girls develop and the friendships that are planted are worth the sacrifices that many families make to send their girls to The Heart.
On the surface, you can look at the tangibles — lessons in horseback riding, swimming, dance, tennis, and art, not to mention the healthy food and the sheer fun, all in a gorgeous, healthful setting.
Greater than that are the intangibles – the invaluable socialization, emotional growth, experiences in group living and exposure to role models!
I have loved camp since before I can remember, and I consider it the most formative influence of my life. I have spent my adulthood trying to explain it to others in a credible way, and as a camping professional, attempting to legitimize and sell camp as something that goes way beyond fun, sing-along’s and s’mores.
Fortunately, I’m not the only person with this dilemma. Recently studies have been conducted showing that a camping experience, especially one that spans multiple summers or sessions, can establish in children and youth the foundations for success.
These studies have documented skill development in adjustment to separation, decision making, emotional safety, peer relationships, self-determination, teamwork, and workforce skills, among others.
These abilities and others like them are not taught in schools and often, by their very nature, cannot be taught at home. The American Camp Association has collected many of these studies on its website (http://www.acacamps.org/campers-families/planning-camp/preparing-camp/expert-advice).
A friend of mine over the last 40 years–a camp friend, no less–is an instructor at Texas A&M. She has frequently and boldly proclaimed that “camp should be a prerequisite for life!” Not just for educators, parents or child psychologists, but for everyone.
I agree, and firmly believe that the world would be a better place if more people could benefit from the lessons that working, playing and living together at camp provide.
Our former campers have grown up to become women who devote their careers to family, medicine, acting, teaching, service in foreign missions, the ministry, ranching, engineering, business, nutrition, politics, art, fashion, science, and more. I am proud of the contributions they make as productive adults.
My family takes pride in running a small yet strong business, keeping “The Heart” intimate enough to make it a personal experience for each girl, claiming campers and counselors as a part of our own. I am happy that my livelihood revolves around the important work of developing girls and young women into solid citizens, good mothers, and balanced, healthy people who are contributors to society.
Worth the investment? I should say so!