I vividly remember making the decision to go to overnight camp when I was 7 years old. My Mom told me my best friend was going and asked if I wanted to go, too. I said, “yes,” without hesitation.
At the time, I was reserved, shy, and some would say fragile, but Julie was going to camp and I wanted to go, too.
The camp was 100 miles from my home and I only knew one person when I got there. I was scared, for sure, but I didn’t have time to stay scared. Overnight camp is non stop fun! My experience at sleepaway camp changed my life. I was 8 years old that first summer and I continued to go to the same camp for the following 9 years.
I grew into a confident, adventurous girl and still remember lessons I learned there.
When Zack neared the age when I could consider sending him to sleep away camp, I realized that a benefit for us, as a military family, is that sending our kids to camp each year gives them connections to the same kids each year and no matter where we live, we can always send the boys to the same camp!
We sent Zack to overnight camp when he was 8 years old and he, too, loved it. His Asperger’s Syndrome causes him to struggle socially, but at camp, in a small cabin group of boys his age, he learned social skills and fit in. Some of the social skills were less than desirable to us, his parents, but they were “normal” for pre-teen boys, so we were actually thrilled about it! He went to the same camp the next year, as well.
I have yet to succeed at convincing 11 year old Dwight that camp is a great part of growing up. Despite his reputation for being Big Man on Campus, he is actually shy and takes a long time to warm up to new situations. I haven’t given up, yet, and maybe once his Dad is home from deployment, and he feels more secure, he’ll agree to go.
Camp is expensive, but worth every penny.
At camp, everyone is on an even playing field. Everyone wants new friends and everyone is trying new activities like horseback riding, archery, woodworking, high ropes, rock climbing… the list is endless. Kids try what seems interesting to them and then stick with what they like, growing and mastering skills, building confidence.
The camp I went to many years ago is no longer a working camp. Camp Chateaugay, with its beautiful north shore location on one of the Adirondack Lakes, looks like a fabulous place to send your kids, if you are searching for a place to send your kids this summer.