send your kid to camp


I started attending summer camp programs at a very young age. So young, I don’t actually remember my first week, in particular. So at an early age, I was given an unlimited kid’s playland of to outdoor activities, exercise, problem solving, creativity, and more than my fair share of trouble making good old fashioned fun!

Marshall will surely be the one to help our kids with homework, learn to shoot a basketball, and tear apart and rebuild electronics. I’ll probably be the one teaching them to swim in a lake, sing silly songs, and talk to strangers make new friends.

It’s so common these days to see 10 year olds walking down the street staring at cell phones. Video games take over kids eyes after school. And go for a hike in the woods? Please. You’d have to drag the average teenager kicking and screaming. We have a technology problem, yes, but that’s not all.

I went to day camp for a few summers. Here, I went to and from camp each day, on a school bus with our camp counselors. It was up to me to remember to grab my lunchbox from the bus, and keep everything I needed for the day in my backpack. By the time I was 11 I was doing ‘Resident Camps’ where I lived on the camp property from Sunday through Friday. I was responsible for waking myself up on time to shower and get ready for the day by breakfast. It was up to me to choose my own activities, manage my camp shop money, and not choose too many ice cream cones for desert.

You see, we also have a problem these days with kids grown adults that still rely on mom and dad to do their laundry, cook their meals, and keep them to a budget.

But that’s not all!

We also have a generation of kids who don’t know the meaning of respect. They don’t care about others. They have to be threatened with jail time to be honest. And there sure is a lack of responsibility.

– – – No, I’m not referring to all children. I might be giving extreme examples, but many kids struggle in a similar way, even though it might be on a lighter scale – – –

  • Two in five residential camps (40%) report some relationship to schools or school curricula. About half of these (22%) partner directly with schools as part of their academic programs during the school year. New partnerships with school systems are emerging as a way to help children retain learning over the summer. (2011 ACA Sites, Facilities, Programs Report)

Could sending kids to camp decrease our drop out rates? Just a hunch.

Truthfully, it’s not all about camp. It’s about involvement. Both your child’s involvement in activities, AND your involvement in your child.

Each day, I came home to tell my dad about the fish I caught. Or tell my mom about the art project I had made. And tell them the dramatic story of how I almost died made the swim the whole way around the lake!

There was something every day that I was proud of, challenged by and excited for. Yes, I had bruised knees, bug bites, and an irrevocable fear of snakes. Not to mention the bat that bit my friend on the shoulder and made for a great late night trip to the hospital. #aintaboutthatrabies

But I also had courage. I had healthy hobbies, goals and big dreams.

Because by the time I was 13, I had decided I wanted to be a Camp Director. Camp had such an impact on my life, that I decided it would have to actually be my life.

  • Other new programs include college planning programs; health, wellness, and fitness programs; service learning / community service programs; and cooking with food from the camp’s garden.
  • 87% of camps offer recreational swimming, 67% offer camping skills, 48% offer climbing/rappelling, 38% offer horseback riding, 78% teambuilding, 47% community service, 23% farming/ranching/gardening, and 28% wilderness trips. (2011 ACA Sites, Facilities, Programs Report)

But even if that never happened, I had the experience of a lifetime.

I learned to be caring and honest. Treat people with respect. And act responsibly. I learned that kids were kids. Not black, or jewish, or rich or poor. And 15 years later, I see Camp values in myself every day.

And, there’s something for every kid.

  • Fees to attend camp vary from less than $100 to more than $1,500 per week
  • 90% of ACA-accredited camps offer some form of financial assistance to over one million children who are from economically deprived families, have special medical needs, or special situations that might preclude them from attending camp. (2012 ACA Business Operations Report)

Here in Wilmington we have your typical Y Camp, a mile into the woods with prices in the $100-$500 range per week (with financial assistance available). Two hours up the road is your not-so-typical but oh-so-fabulous SUPER Y Camp… where the prices for a week are in the $1000’s. From coloring and fishing to equestrian and sailing, there is literally an activity for everyone.

Even local activities like sports camps and lessons can teach your kid many of the values learned at camp. With mommy-and-me play classes, swim lessons and more, you can find many different ways to slowly teach your child to be their own kid. To grow into their own person.

Do your kid (and yourself… think about it…) a favor. Send your kid to camp.

Think camp is just for the kids? Think again. Working at a summer camp comes with a whole new realm of possibilities, learning opportunities, and fun.

I spent many years at camp. And one of the most amazing parts is that 15 years later, I am able to keep up with so many of my friends. We are all grown, and leading entirely different lives all over the country, even all over the world.

But at the end of the day, we’ve all got camp in common.

“To all those campers out there, know you made a difference in the lives of your counselors. You probably looked up to them and thought they were the coolest. Well, we often thought the same about you… Never doubt, we are still cheering for you, sad when tough stuff hits you, and still feel proud to have been in your lives, even if for only a week or two at a time. And parents, if you are thinking about sending your kids to camp – do it! There simply aren’t enough words to express how great, meaningful, and life changing summer camp can be.    – Sara Roberts Brinkman, wife of Todd Brinkman, Executive Director of YMCA of Greater Pittsburgh

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1 Comment

  • Reply Lauren Kligman October 7, 2017 at 1:05 pm

    Hello Love, just saw this blog post and I love it!! So true, a summer at a residential camp changes lives. It changed and help me develop great character traits that I use and value everyday! Thank you for sharing this to others!

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