There’s only a couple of short months to go until those gates open to summer 2017 and excitement is brimming over yet another summer of magical fun at The Heart. If camp isn’t at the forefront of your mind yet – it sure should be! Speaking as someone who was (unfortunately) never a camper but (fortunately) found my place at camp in my college years, I want to talk to y’all about why camp is so important for children in today’s society and why every kid should go to camp.
First things first, the thing you’re reading this blog on: an electronic device. In an age where we are constantly tapping away at cell phones, checking in on Facebook, uploading a selfie to Instagram and tweeting our opinions, it can be extremely hard to let the technology go, even for a few minutes. Especially with kids these days being able to maneuver their way around a cell phone quicker than making a tower out of building blocks, they need time free from technology. That’s exactly what camp gives them: the opportunity to disconnect from devices to connect with the people around them. A month of fun in the sun in one of the most beautiful places on Earth, surrounded by friends and daily activities that offer the chance to make memories that will last longer than a Snapchat.
One of the things that blew my mind about camp from the first day I arrived was the amount of independence it instills in children. There aren’t many environments where a little 6 year old camper can have a schedule filled with fun activities of their choosing, and make their own way to classes with their newfound best friends every day for a month – but camp is one of few! Having learned a lot about American culture in my 4 years at The Heart it’s plain to see that camp is a fantastic stepping stone for children to learn independence for their future college years, so that when the time comes to leave home, it is seen as the next adventure as opposed to a scary first-time-away-from-home experience.
With activities ranging from climbing to crochet, and fishin’ to field sports, you can bet your bottom dollar that every camper is able to leave camp with at least one new skill! Camp gives kids the chance to try new things on a daily basis, and find their favorite activity that could turn turn into a lifelong hobby. A few swimming lessons in the Guad can be all it takes for a camper to learn a new stroke or let go of their kickboard. However, it’s not just classes that give campers the chance to try new things at camp. Special evening activities and tribe events offer new, exciting experiences for campers, along with trying three bites of every food offered in the dining hall – you never know, it could bring the discovery of a new favorite dish!
Perhaps one of the most important reasons kids should attend camp is for the people you meet there, and the instantaneous friendships that form. Living in a cabin with at least 4 other people of the same age is a sure-fire way to make friends in a minute. Anyone who has been to camp, whether as a camper or counselor, knows the value of a camp friendship, and it’s like no other. Camp friends are in a league of their own; having only one month together in this teeny wee community forms bonds as strong as family. In the months that follow camp you may not speak to a camp friend daily, but all it takes is a message beginning “Remember that time…” to keep those memories alive. Camp is filled with so many different joyful personalities, in campers and counselors alike. Counselors are such incredible role models for campers, the friendships that form between the staff only echo those of the campers.
I could go on and on with reasons why kids should go to camp, but don’t just take my word for it. The smiles that shine on opening day and the tears the fall on closing day are testament enough to how camp is such a life changing place.