The Gift of Camp

I’ve spent the last several weeks exploring the ‘camp as a gift’ idea. The deeper I dive, the further it pulls me along. I’ve spoken about it with camp parents, newly alumni-ed campers, and our own team. A recent conversation with Dr. Tina Payne Bryson really slammed it home.

(You’ll be able to enjoy the whole conversation with Dr. Bryson on January 3rd.  It’s one of the most informative and useful campfire conversation I’ve enjoyed!)

I’m starting to see camp as a gift in lots of different ways. The only way I wrap my head around it is in terms of our family’s yearly goal categories. So, in that like, I think camp is a gift for the…

Body

What environment offers the same amount of vigorous all-day, everyday activity as camp? Sure, you could decide to a boot camp multiple times a day but it’s just not as much fun.

And that’s the key, isn’t it – the fun!

I’m not just talking about the kids who play in a WBL game followed by a WFL game and then spend time waterskiing or climbing. The benefits of such a schedule are self-evident. We have a number of kiddos who want to create rather than compete, build things rather than bomb around the courts. Their fingers become more dexterous, their endurance increases, and curiosity goes through the roof.

Plus, we have our free-play each evening that is full of gaga, sport court, chase and more followed up by an almost always active Evening Activity. Heck, just walking around camp will get you more than the steps you need.

And, let’s not forget the food, a key element to every body’s health. Chef Daniel and his crew do an amazing job combing good nutrition with good taste – an important combination at camp!

Mind

A ‘knock’ on camp is that it takes away from the gains of the academic year. I’ve got two counter arguments to such a viewpoint.

We don’t do a lot of book studying at camp, true. And, the learning goes into overdrive.

Whether you are a camper or a staff member, the amount of executive functioning, empathy, communication, leadership, and courage that gets exercised is off the charts. As all of these functions reside in the still-developing frontal lobes, the mind is literally being rewired by the summer camp experience.

Secondly, I think about a quote from an earlier ‘titan’ of the business world, JP Morgan:

“I can do a year’s work in nine months but not in twelve.”

With the demands of school and after school activities, our kids must have some time to get away and immerse themselves into something that captivates their imagination and rebuilds their reserves for the ‘work’ of school. The break allows our kids the chance to get some perspective by creating distance from which to view their world back home.

This is also good for the…

Soul

Personal joy. Lasting friendships. New-found capabilities and interests. Putting down the masks. A chance to be their best self. Flourishing.

These are all things that happen at camp when it’s the right fit for the kiddo. (And for the staff member, too!) How do you know when it’s the right fit? When there are more tears at the end than at the beginning.

This isn’t just for the kids and the staff who live at camp and breath the same air. This gift affects our parents as well. Seeing your child return home more mature, more capable, more confident and overflowing with fun stories of new friends and new adventures… it’s priceless. (And, a little jealousy-inducing!)

Camp is a Gift

Campers, camp is a gift for you. Make sure to thank your parents for making it happen. Often!

Staff members, camp is a gift for you. Few places on earth will help you grow and learn to care for others as much as a summer caring at camp.

Parents, camp is a gift for you. It will partner with you to help raise your child in the ways important to your family.

And, yes, camp is certainly a gift to me, too. Who would have thought Kate’s introduction of ‘summer camp’ would have led to this point? I’m incredibly blessed. Thank y’all for being a part of the gift each and every day!

Have a great week!