I just dropped off my youngest daughter at camp in the North Carolina mountains. I have made that drive as a parent for seven years and as a camper, staffer, and alumna for more than 30. My daughter will be gone for the next two weeks, which feels like an eternity to me. However, if she has an experience similar to mine 30 years ago, it won’t be long enough. She will wish she could stay longer.
As I drove away, I reflected on the many wonderful blessings kids can experience at summer camp. They included:
Campers experience independence from their parents. At camp, kids are often allowed to make their own choices and do things without parent intervention within safe boundaries. My kids have all returned from camp with feelings of accomplishment and empowerment that come from independence.
Campers can experience a unique environment that is free from many of the pressures of everyday life. Our kids have attended Ridgecrest Camp for Boys and Crestridge Camp for Girls. Gone are the pressures to look good for the opposite sex. Gone is the awkwardness of living in a co-ed community. Campers do things outside of their typical gender expectations. My daughter will learn to build fires. She will also learn makeup and perfectly done hair are not necessary for survival.
Campers learn it is possible to have great friends and great fun in a screen-free environment. It seems impossible at times to convince some children of this reality, but summer camp can open their eyes!
I am thankful my children have attended Caldwell for their entire educational careers. However, they can miss out on knowing what it feels like to be the new kid. Attending summer camp has allowed them to make deep friendships outside their normal circles.
Summer camp provides a network of friends around the country. My best camp friend was from California. We still exchange Christmas cards! One of my counselors participated in my wedding. My son, a recent Caldwell graduate, just spent the night with five of his camp buddies who live in Orlando. They will be friends for life.
Speaking of my son, I have just a few days left with my rising college freshman. Camp has prepared me to let him go. Honestly, I know he’s got this. Being separated from him for two weeks every summer made it easier for me to say goodbye as he left this summer on a three-week, cross-country trek with his classmates. I know it will make it easier to leave him in his college dorm. College won’t be the first time on his own. His camp experience has helped prepare me, too!
We are blessed to live in a part of the country with a number of great camps not too far away. I encourage parents to consider one for their child. It can benefit them so much, and it can also bless you in many ways.