What I learned at camp

There is so much for your child to experience and take away from summer camp. Here are just some of the lessons your camper will learn.

Parents send their children to camp to have fun, make new friends and acquire activity skills. In the process, campers learn that …

Time flies because camp is so much fun!

There is a camp to match the interests of every child. Some specialize in sports, the arts, science, computers, wilderness tripping or adventure challenges. There are day and resident, co-ed and single-sex camps. Some are devoted to children with learning or physical challenges or campers with special medical needs. The parents’ task is to choose, with their child’s involvement, the right camp to learn new skills and have tons of fun!

Although I came to camp knowing nobody, I quickly made new friends.

As soon as new campers board the camp bus or arrive at the campsite, the counsellors help them feel at home. Even children who have difficulty making friends will succeed with the guidance of an attentive counsellor. While interacting with children from other provinces, countries and cultures, children learn respect, acceptance and how to live happily in a group. Friendships made at camp can last a lifetime!

There are lots of things I can do by myself.

Camp teaches children to be independent. They learn to look after themselves and their own belongings. They learn that they can be happy away from home for a short time. Camp builds self-confidence and self-esteem as campers learn to paddle a canoe, sail a Laser (sailboat), tie-dye a T-shirt or perform in a play.

There are more stars in the sky than I can count!

On a rural or wilderness campsite, campers discover the wonders of nature. Watching a sunrise or sunset, sleeping under the stars, observing animals in their natural setting or hearing the haunting call of a loon are memorable experiences for a city child. Although a day at camp

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is full of activity, there is also time to rest, relax and ponder. Sitting around a campfire or chatting by the lake with a new friend offers a welcome change of pace for children with demanding winter schedules.

If I don’t make my bed, my cabin mates get angry.

Peer pressure works better than parental nagging to get a mess tidied. With the counsellor’s guidance, children learn to co-operate to clean their cabin, rig a sailboat, cross a portage or build a fire to roast marshmallows.

If I accidentally wet my bed, my counsellor doesn’t get angry.

Counsellors are trained to deal sensitively with problems such as bedwetting, homesickness or disappointment at failing a swim test. In pre-camp sessions, counsellors learn age group characteristics, fair and firm methods to deal with behaviour problems and ways to earn the respect of their campers. The director chooses a staff of young people who are fun, fit, skilled, caring, and patient. They are ideal role models for impressionable young campers.

If I don’t like what’s served at lunch, by dinner I am hungry enough to eat anything!

Nutritious meals are planned with children’s preference in mind. Variety and choice are offered. Special menus are provided for vegetarians and campers with special dietary needs. However, the camp cook cannot please everybody all the time. Nevertheless, fussy eaters soon learn to enjoy the meal served to them after a day full of activity and with the example of other enthusiastic eaters around the table.

At camp, I feel safe and secure.

Campers quickly learn that their safety is a top priority. At each activity, the safety rules, which they must follow, are posted. Early in the session, fire and emergency drills are practised. Their counsellor is always available to help them. Lifeguards are always on duty and the administration ensures that no strangers wander onto the campsite.

It’s great to receive letters from home, even if I can’t read dad’s writing!

Mail ranks high on a camper’s priority list. Several short letters received over an extended period are preferable to one long letter. Postcards are good, but small parcels (with permissible contents such as magazines, felt markers, stickers and sunscreen, not junk food) are even better!

Catherine Ross is communications officer for the Canadian Camping Association, past president, Society of Camp Directors, former camp director and author of How to Be a Camp Counsellor…the best job in the world!

Photo: depositphotos.com © Benis Arapovic