Why You Should Always Send Your Children to a Summer Camp
I've been a camper for most of my life.
I have been camping near rivers, lakes, and just in the woods, but so far none of these have yet been able to even compare to my experiences at summer camp as a kid and as a teenager. Plenty of the best memories and friends I have made are from camp, and I wouldn't trade any of the memories I have made there for anything. I actually enjoyed the camp that I went to so much that I eventually volunteered as a counselor for two years, and then signed on as permanent staff for the whole summer a couple of years later. But why are some camps beginning to have a smaller number of campers annually? It's one of those things that has puzzled me over the last few years, and as I got older I realized a large reason was that parents were hesitant to send their kids "off on their own" to a week-long camp.
Kids need to learn independence early on.
In todays world, college is a must in order to have a job that can pay the bills. However, many students aren't so lucky, or won't choose, to go to a college that is close by and commutable. Many colleges also have the requirement that freshman students must live on campus, so that the university will be able to keep an eye on them, while also allowing the students to be closer to their classes and be able to know how quickly they can move about campus from their dorms. However, I have a large number of friends who weren't exactly prepared for living away from home, either on their own or with a stranger roommate. For many of these people, coping with it for the first semester of college was very difficult for them, and it was shown in their grades and class performance. I, however, haven't felt homesick since the summer of my third or fourth grade year, which also happened to be the first two summers my parents sent me away to camp. After that I fell so in love with camp that I quickly forgot my homesickness, and began looking forward to leaving home more and more. As this continued through Jr. and Sr. High School, I was so well adjusted to being away from home and on my own that it wasn't traumatizing or difficult for me to leave. Now this isn't saying that I can miss being at home, but it's mostly because I want to see my parents or other family members, not because I'm feeling lonely or far-away from home. It just isn't me, however. Many of my friends from camp also do well away from home, and as a matter of fact two of them are living in Scotland for about 5 months, and while I'm sure home won't be easy to leave, they'll be able to cope with it well.
It gives you, as a parent, a week off!
Now while I'm not a parent myself, I know that my parents had very little time away from myself and my brother. Going to camp gave them a (much needed, they would say) break from my brother and I. This allowed them to have their time together, and they could do and watch whatever they wanted, without worrying if it could be inappropriate for kids to be around, such as have get-togethers with their friends, who might be a little more loose with their speech after having a beer or two. Not only that, but it allowed them to rejuvenate themselves, they were able to nap without being bothered, they ate whenever they were hungry rather than cook a meal at a determined time because they were worrying about us. I know that after every week I had come back from camp, I always noticed some big project had been undertaken, something that might have taken a little longer, or not even would have been done, if my brother and I had been around to screw it up or get in the way. Parenting is a full-time job, one that rarely gives you the opportunity for vacation, so jump on it!
People are everywhere.
Camp allowed me to realize this in my high school and early college years. For someone who is currently in college, it can become a little overwhelming, having people around you constantly and always being in contact. However, all thanks to camp, I love it. In my later years as a camper, we stayed in a smaller portion of the camp that only had two cabins and one main lodge. The main lodge was dedicated to all of the female campers while the two cabins usually held all of the guys. It was close. Some would say too close, but I came to see it as perfect. Living in such a close proximity with people, even for a week, allows you to get to know them so much more. Now, whenever I'm not in close proximity with other people, I feel weird and sometimes lonely. However, if I lived on campus in a dorm, or in an apartment near my campus with friends, I would feel right at home. Having people around now feels more natural than being alone, and personal space and privacy aren't nearly as important to me now as they were earlier in my life. Considering that many kids will grow up to go to college, this could be considered invaluable. I wouldn't want to be a loner living in a large group of people for a whole entire school year, I would go mad.
Camp can be a rewarding and useful thing for a child. Why parents are hesitant to send their kids along is a mystery, as it can help them greatly in later life. It allows them to develop their social skills and helps parents cut the cord, while allowing the child to have the best time of their life. For a parent to deprive their child of the fun and memories that can be made at camp is just wrong, and frankly a little sad. If I could have shared what I experienced at camp with all of my friends, I would gladly do so. So parents: cut the cord, let them go, it will play a huge part in who they are to become some day.