This is a musing of Mike Costlow’s (the new summer camp director), so we should take it as nothing more than thoughts, some half-formed. Â :)
I see many camps struggle with the most basic question ever posed in camping, “Why should I/my group/my kids/my friends go to Camp XYZ?” Â It’s something we get asked as camping professionals rather often, and it seems as if it should be an easy question. Â Until you try to answer it. Â
Here are some of the answers I’ve heard and given:
- You will learn how to shoot a bow and arrow.
- You will make friends.
- You will be outside and in the sun, not in front of a computer.
- You will do things you’ve never tried before.
- You will learn to swim.
- You will be challenged.
- You will experience people you would never interact with otherwise.
- You will learn how to rock climb.
- You will come away with an appreciation for the little things in life.
- You will interact with other people face-to-face, personally, with the intention of getting to know one another better.
- You will play tag in 14 different variations.
- You will eat food you’d never eat anywhere else. Â And love it.
- You will sing songs about bees, butterflies, moose, elephants, Princess Pat and hippos.
- You will learn how to kick a soccer ball.
- You will stand in a circle around a fire holding a candle, and may cry while you do it.
- You may get a sunburn,
ant bite, grass stain, mosquito bite, scraped toe, or bruised ego. Â They’ll make you stronger.
- You will scream like a 2 year old girl as you go down the zip line. Â Even when you’re 14.
- You will be told to put on a hat, bugspray, shoes, sunscreen, and lip balm. Â And you may listen.
- You will meet people called Cougar, Flash, Big Will, Scooter, Kat, Equis, and Tay Tay. Â And they’ll be cool.
- You will learn how to paint a rock. Â And name it. Â And show it to your friends. Â And keep it as a pet. Â
These are all good answers, but there are so many! Â How do you tell someone who has never been here, has never seen the animals in the woods, never woken up to no traffic noise, never walked to a shower house in a rain shower, never ridden a horse, never gone more than 3 hours without watching some kind of a screen? Â What is the most important part of camp? Â
I look at my childhood of growing up at camp, and I realize that there was no one thing for me. Â Camp changed me in so many small ways, made me stronger, more empathetic, confident, giving, slowed my pace, focused me, and brought me life-long friends all at the same time. Â All of those things don’t fit onto tri-fold flyers, or into elevator conversations, on t-shirts, or even into 16 page brochures. Â I had to go to camp to realize I needed it. Â
And I needed different things than the camper sleeping on the bunk below me.
Why do you need camp?