The Hidden Value of Camp
Your kids want to go to camp for a variety of reasons: to swim, boat, craft, play games, sleep in a bunk, make up stories, sing songs, eat s’mores, and stay up late. Who among us wouldn’t want to spend many warm weeks of summer having fun with our friends? And while parents endorse all those endeavors, fondly recalling sing-a-longs around campfires, secret languages made up in the dark, and days on end spent in wet bathing suits, the real reason we send our kids to camp? It’s the independence.
We have no choice but to be protective these days as parents. The dangers are all too real. Sending our kids to camp lets us give them the freedom we remember from our youth. Freedom to play and be adventurous, to explore and discover nature and ourselves, away from the eyes of adults. Camp life is an alternate reality that is controlled yet wild. We can trust that our kids are safe, being watched over by counselors and staff, but with space to get immersed in the outdoors, to form their own tribes, to go a little native in the deep woods of Maine.
The kids know that camp is a special place. That it’s kind of a magical world that exists apart from and outside the one we inhabit the other ten months of the year. Campers are aware that it’s an escape from the pressures of the school year. What they may not realize is that they are acquiring skills, through play and everyday activities that help them grow and develop, independent of parental guidance.
You are giving your kids the incredible gift of self-discovery and the confidence gained through succeeding at tasks, whether a ropes course or simply getting up, dressed, and ready for the day all by themselves. The secret of camp is daily incremental growth intertwined with self-assurance. At the end of their weeks away you will be so impressed by your small person, how proud they are, how strong they have become.
It’s a sort of paradox, and a wonderful one. That a summer away at camp in Maine can change your child in these two distinct ways. First, that they happily unplug and commit to play and the quiet study of the world around them you thought had been lost in the unblinking eye of technology. And two, that they have transformed into a more capable, competent human being. More childish wonder and more independence, all at once. And it happened without them even knowing it.
Camp teaches kids something every single moment of every day, even when we all are at play.