Not Your Ordinary Summer
Nick was 13 and had been coming to camp ever since he was seven.
– by Nathan Thompson
As he stored his bags under his bunk, he thought to himself, “This will be the year I make the jump.”
During the first swim session he tentatively climbed the ladder and slowly crept towards the edge of the tower. He leaned over, glancing at what seemed like a mile drop. Taking a deep breath, he closed his eyes. Then, defeated, shrugged his shoulders and climbed back down.
This scene was repeated each day until the final day of camp. Once again Nick climbed the ladder and inched his way to the edge of the platform. He tried to muster the confidence to jump. But he remained motionless.
“You can do it Nick,” hollered one of Nick’s cabin mates and suddenly Nick had a cheering section of the three other boys from his cabin.
With renewed determination, Nick leaned in and let himself go, falling through the air, landing with a splash in the lake below. As he surfaced, his smile broadened as he heard the wild cheers from his friends on the shore. He had done it!
At camp, such ‘Nick’ moments happen all the time but that doesn’t make them commonplace. Every moment signals something special happening in the life of a camper. Every moment adds up to an incredible experience, newly developed skills, increased faith and maturing character.
If Nick’s transformation hasn’t convinced you, here are eight more reasons why kids benefit from camp:
- UNPLUGGED – Kids today spend an average of 31 hours per week playing video games, 28 hours watching TV, 10 hours on the computer and 2.5 hours per week on their phones. Summer camp engages kids with creation and community.
- ACTIVITY – Whether it is running through the forest, paddling down a river looking for your camp site or testing your skills at archery, camp encourages kids to be active and enjoy the outdoors.
- SELF CONFINDENCE – Each day at camp is filled with opportunities try new things in the context of a safe and supportive community. It’s remarkable to see the sense of accomplishment on a child’s face as he or she tries something new or overcomes a fear.
- REINFORCEMENT – You’ve heard the old adage that it takes a village to raise a child; well that’s what happens at camp. Mentors who invest in the life of a young person by affirming and encouraging them are invaluable. Young people need healthy role models and camp is a great place to find them!
- SOCIAL SKILLS – At camp, kids are immersed in community, allowing them grow in relationships with others through teamwork and co-operation. Kids learn conflict-resolution skills as they make their own decisions and figure out how to express themselves without their parents present.
- CREATIVITY – There is an enormous value in letting children imagine, explore and experience their own fun. Camp provides the opportunity for young people to be a part of a story that they are in part creating for themselves through structured activities and unstructured free time.
- LEADERSHIP – Young people are looking for chances to step out and lead and camp provides a forum where that not only is a possibility but it is encouraged! Youth have chances to work as a team, problem solve and make decisions. The best place that this happens is during Leaders in Training programs where teens can wrestle with what it means to be a leader as they are coached, encouraged, and given opportunities to lead themselves.
- FAITH – Young people are looking for places to ask questions about the world, themselves and faith. Camp is a safe place to ask those questions and wrestle with who Jesus is and his love for them with healthy mentorship and encouragement. Studies show that young adults who are committed to their faith often point back to summer camp as a place where their faith became real.