I’ve spent a lot of summers at camp.
As a child, I would attend camp for a couple weeks at a time. When I was in high school, I would literally travel across the country to work at camp. Even during college, I would spend my summers as a camp counselor playing games, eating less-than-haute cuisine, and helping kids to not feel homesick. Early in my career, I even had the opportunity to organize and lead camping programs.
I love camp. It was my thing for a long time.
Camping has been a part of The Salvation Army for a long, long time. There is something restorative about providing a child with the opportunity to leave the city and the worries of living at home behind and to explore nature. There’s something spiritual about connecting wth the soil and the trees and the water – God’s amazing creation. When we reconnect with our campers after they’ve grown too old for the program, we invariably hear that the relationships they formed and the memories they made at camp are the kind that last a lifetime.
I wanted to share just a few of the many benefits that having a child spend time at summer camp can add.
Camp Challenges Kids
One of the most amazing things that you get to witness at camp is how much kids grow in just a short time. I truly believe that so much of this is because of the way that activities at camp stretch a camper and provide them opportunities to grow. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen kids learn how to swim in our pool or learn to depend on each other on our high ropes course.
More than that, camp exposes kids to a whole new circle of friends and helps them develop a stronger sense of who they really are.
Camp Protects Kids
More than anything else, camp is about protecting children and keeping them safe. This is challenging given that we also want to provide kids with growth opportunities that are new and pushes them from their comfort zone. At the core of any reputable camp, though, is a fundamental desire to keep kids safe from harm. We protect kids from physical dangers, but we also are able to closely monitor and intervene in situations that might involve bullying or other harmful behavior. In the moment, we can help kids learn to communicate more effectively and empower them to make better choices.
Camp Empowers Kids
Speaking of empowering kids, Camp also provides children with the opportunity to master skills and help them understand that the choices that they make can have lasting effects. We want children to know that they are capable and worthy. One report from the American Camping Association related to outcomes of camp had parents reporting that their children “felt successful” at camp. As kids overcome challenges that are appropriate for their skill level, they intuitively know that they have grown; their world has expanded, even if just a little bit.
The Salvation Army will continue to serve children and families each summer. We have seen thousands and thousands of transformed lives come through our camping program. We know their experiences and the lessons they learn don’t end when the bus arrives to take them home.
You can help a child experience a summer just like this. Our camp is running a “Send a Kid to Camp” program this summer. If you want to provide a child an opportunity to grow beyond their wildest dreams, you can learn more at our Send a Kid to Camp Website (http://sendakidto.camp).