I Love CampPosted by Alicia Theriault on February 11, 2019
February is here which means we are already more than a month into 2019. The days are growing longer. And we have even enjoyed some warm winter days. The warm sunshine and longer days often bring thoughts of summer. Our excitement for camp builds. Friends and family often ask us how we are so excited about something that is still months away. We often respond with something like “I love camp!” A short statement that wraps up all of our feelings about summer camp. We can’t always explain the specifics, but we are certain in saying “I love camp!” whether we are referring to overnight or day camp.
We say “I love camp” in a very definitive manner- almost like it’s all self-explanatory. But what creates our emotional connection to camp? Just what do we LOVE about summer camp?
I Love Camp Community
From the outside, camp can look similar to school, sports teams, or religious communities. However, when you dig deeper you quickly realize that camp is very different than other groups and communities in our lives. This difference is largely due to the unique and supportive community that we find at camp. Campers often say things like “I love camp community because I feel so comfortable here.” Campers and CITs often refer to their camp community as their summer family or their summer home.
Life at camp fosters growth in so many ways. Campers thrive in summer camp communities. They are valued for their individuality. And they are empowered to challenge themselves in ways the often can’t do at home. Counselors and cabin mates create a magical web that provides support and comfort for each member of their cabin family. The larger camp community shows us unconditional support during events and activities. Returning campers and CITs often reflect upon the on-going support they have each summer of camp when they discuss why they love camp community.
I Love the Impact of Camp
When summer camp comes to an end each summer there’s an undeniable impact that it has had on campers, CITs, and staff. Skills in independence, communication, and collaboration are developed by camp participants and staff members alike. Campers return home more capable of taking care of daily tasks like making their beds and putting away their laundry. They often return home with new skills and even new passions. Parents often include comments like “I love the impact of camp on my child.” as a reason for re-enrolling their child(ren) for the coming summer. Often these comments come before they’ve returned home from the summer. The impact is something that parents can see almost immediately.
This great impact of camp is just as strong for summer camp counselors. Staff members return home with a stronger understanding of professionalism and work ethic. Working at summer camp is about the outcome, not the income. Few summer camp counselors enter their first summer expecting camp to have a profound impact on them. Their focus on the “outcome” often centers on how they can impact campers. As a camp director, I love the impact of camp on our camp staff. There are few jobs where you see future generations learn and grow in the way you see at summer camp.
I Love Camp Friends
The friendships developed at camp are truly unique. The hashtag #campfriendsarethebestfriends truly says it all. We hear the significance of camp friendships in the thunderous footsteps as campers and CITs see their friends for the first time of the summer. You see the meaning of camp friendships when friends walk across camp, arm in arm, the brightest smiles on their faces. You can measure the depth of camp friendships in the tears shed at the end of camp. Friends are often the number one reason campers return to camp each summer. When asked what they love most about camp campers, CITs, and staff often reply with “I love camp friends!” There is something magical in the friendships developed at summer camp.
This magic grows during the days at camp. Bunkmates become friends. Those friends become brothers and sisters. Bunk Counselors become lifelong mentors. One of the most magical aspects of camp friendships is their ability to live and grow long after camp is over. Camp friends become college roommates and sorority sisters and fraternity brothers. Summer camp friends are in your wedding party and they are the godparents to your children. The bonds built during rest hour games and over campfire chats create a network of support that stays with you no matter where life’s path takes you. The longevity of camp friendships makes them one of the most special aspects of the summer camp experience.
As a camp director and a camp parent, I can truly say I love camp friends. My camp friends, the camp friends that reconnect each summer at Fernwood Cove, and my daughter’s camp friends. Each of these types of friendships and each of the people in these friendships are a part of the lasting web of camp friendships that support us today and well into the future.