Summer Camps are a beautiful thing that need to be seen as an asset to a person’s life. What a person experiences at camp will follow them though the rest of their lives. This includes relationships. Camps give a person the opportunity to step out of their comfort zone and into the ‘unknown’. Camps will challenge a persons thinking and understanding of the world and how it works.
An adult that works/volunteers at a camp will be an influence on the children they come in contact with, as well as the children influence and impress upon the adult. Learning is a two way street; campers learn as much from adults as we learn from them. Campers bring baggage to camp and we need to be willing to help the campers work through that baggage. We need to be able to have clear perception of what the camper is saying and we need to demonstrate clear communication so that they can understand that we are actively hearing what they are communicating. We need clear communication.
The relationships that we build at camp are not always just a summer ‘thing’. The relationships we build can become life long and significant. When I started going to camp at the age of 13, I met Ashleigh, She is one of my best friends and has been one constant through all the struggles I dealt with throughout high school. This relationship is that of siblings. Ashleigh is the sister I never had. I made other friends over my time as a camper but this was the first friend I made at camp. Years later I would meet and make friends with others such as Ethan, Alex, Monica, Alyssa, Becky, and so on. *If i was to name every friend I made at camp, this would take me forever. So to those that are not named specifically, I’m Sorry. You are all important to me and not forgotten.*
Also, When a college student says that they are working at a camp for the summer, we should celebrate that and not ask them, “when are you going to get a real job?” or, “That’s not a job.” If a college student says that they are going to work at a camp, it’s not always for their own health and benefit; they are willing to serve students younger than them and be a role model and influence in their lives. I remember being at family gathering and being asked and harassed for ‘being a child that doesn’t want to grow up’ because I was continuing to serve those younger than me by working at a summer camp again.
Camp also give campers the opportunity to challenge themselves physically and mentally. This happens through high and low ropes courses, and team building activities. These challenges teach students how to communicate, listen, and affectively follow others’ leadership. These are not just skills that these campers will use at camp but will also use outside of camp, at home, school, work, and even in their future relationships.
Summer camps serve a large purpose in the world today just as it did years ago. To begin to vilify these camps and tell people that ‘they don’t have a real purpose’ does not do justice to the lasting impact that camps have a person’s life. Just because a camp may not be a music camp, bible camp, sports camp, etc. does not mean that they don’t still serve a great purpose.