Summer Camp. How many children this Christmas will be unwrapping a camp T-shirt or catalog this year representing a summer camp session? We don’t know either but we are SO excited for those children. The gift they have received is the GREATEST gift in the world and the summer they will experience will be second to none.
Spending a summer away from home, away from technology, away from school, away from the mounting pressure facing children daily is a gift. Gaining independence, gaining confidence, gaining social skills and gaining communication skills are a gift. Making friends, making memories and making connections with nature are a gift.
Now the campers most probably don’t realize they are developing these important life skills because in their eyes-they are just having the summer of a lifetime! Waking up to a gong ringing through the valley and a foreign accent hollering “allll up!” is fun! Looking around your cabin and remembering you are having a sleepover with good friends makes it even better. Heading to the dining hall and choosing from a bunch of different cereals, hot chocolate, different juices and then the legendary hot breakfast bar filled with options such as pancakes, eggs, sausage, french toast OR our special Grits bar. Then the campers decide on their days plan. Do they go on the 3 day surf trip offered to their tribe? Or the full day mountain bike trip? Or is today tank top, tie dye Tuesday and they don’t want to miss Arts n Crafts to dye their white tank top? Or is it Pirate Thursdays where the waterfront staff are dressed up as pirates and have pirate themed activities going on all day at the lake? And the list goes on!
Our legendary counselors are seeing and supporting a different picture. They see their campers gaining independence and confidence each day. They wake up to the gong and get themselves out of bed, make it (sometimes!), get dressed and walk up to the Dining Hall with their new best buds. At breakfast their camper helps a younger camper when they cannot reach the cereal they want. A camper spills a glass of juice and their buddy quickly heads to get a cloth and help clean it up. The bacon runs out and the next campers in line decide to share the last 2 pieces. The campers work out whose turn it is to clear the table and it gets done. A camper who has been nervous about signing up to a certain trip heads over to the trip post to sign up with a huge excited smile on their face. Our counselors feel pride when they see their campers improving and developing these skills.
And the parents see something else altogether! They receive a detailed letter weekly from their sons counselor. The letters describe what their son has been up to and what areas or skills they are working on improving. How does their counselor who has only been taking care of their son for a week know so much about him? They log in each evening and are shocked to see their son jumping a horse. Or jumping off the high dive. Or sitting and sharing his much-loved game which he has never done before. The biggest change the parents see is on pick up day.The parents comment year after year how mature their son has become-all ranging from 6 years of age to 16! They are more responsible and see the value of team work, thoughtful communication, and taking responsibility for their actions. They help clear the table after meals, make their beds and spend more time away from the technology of today.
Do these changes last all year? Sometimes not but for those few weeks at camp, campers can be a kid and develop these life skills in an environment like no other. They are not always instructed on what to do, how to do it or when to do it. The are allowed to learn on their own, encouraged to consider others and be a selfless, caring person. They are encouraged to follow their passions without judgement or pressure from others and are encouraged to celebrate and be proud of their successes-not just scores or prizes. As they develop into young adults, years after their summer experience has finished their “fun in the sun” summers will be reflected upon. The summers will be benchmarks of how to treat others and how to set and achieve goals and follow their passions in life. And the alumni campers will then understand that not only did they have fun each summer at camp-but it was a very special gift in more ways than one.
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how to provide a summer at Camp Carolina as a gift this Christmas.