Through the Eyes of a Camper

My own personal view of camp is important, but in the big scheme of things, camp is all about the children.  I tell this to our staff every year and emphasize the reason we are all here – the campers. What they experience, feel and go home with is what really matters in our work.  We do affect those outcomes as described in the last installment of these ramblings.

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Campers most of the time get it and connect those dots way before we think they do.  Each person expresses “camp” in their own way.  Capturing those thoughts is never easy and often you can’t begin to capture this on video or photos or in words. Once in a while we are the recipient of glimpses captured that do express what camp is and I was just sent one of those examples.  The following poem came to us this week and was written by a 4th grade girl who has been attending camp for several years.  She got it and has put into words how she feels about camp.  I will say that it not only touched our hearts because of the reference to a place we love, but she was recognized as only 1 of 2 elementary students in her school system that received honors for her writing.  Well said young lady!  Here it is.

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The View By

Beneath my feet a rock so strong,

above my head a sky with a song,

to my right the path up which I seemed to soar,

to my left the pine trees sway as though dancing with glee galore.

I made my path through beauty’s way,

Until now I stand at last, aghast.

The best painter of all paints the sky,

with colors so bright they scream with might,

behind the mountains tall.

The lake below ripples with magic,

nothing here could ever seem tragic.

I am not alone friends surround me yet

we stand as only one,

as we watch the sky drown the sun,

soon it will be a new day begun.

The stars rise like awakening eyes.

Another magical place to which I have trod,

another place forget I shall not.

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It’s Camp, It’s Real, It’s Fun and It’s Growth

Camp Is Just Around the Corner and the Outcomes Are Many!

Say “foget about it”, in your best Tony Soprano accent and put all that snow, sleet and cold temps behind you and bring in the new life and warm winds of Spring!  Our daffodils have come and are waning and some trees are just starting to bud out.  Our annual visitors, two mated Canadian geese, have taken up residence at the lake along with a lonely wood duck of some sort.  Potatoes are in the ground as well as onions, lettuce and other vegetables are being planted at the farm.  The girls on Brookside will have a totally renovated shower house among other improvements.  We are looking forward to a great summer at camp for 2015 and you should as well.

Summer Camp is the kid “happy place” where you don’t have to worry about anything except why can’t I take all the activities each and every day.  It’s a chance to unplug and re-plug into the outdoors and live a simpler lifestyle with new friends, learning new skills, meeting a whole new set of camp parents – your counselors.  I think you would all agree that camp is the place that fills a role that school and parents can’t.  Children make their own decisions, set and achieve goals, try new things, understand a sense of belonging to a group larger than oneself (cabin, activity & table), develop grit, resilience, confidence and the list goes on. IMG_7726

Summer camp is also a healthy environment.  Exercise is a part of any child’s life of play here, and camp is a natural provider of constant, safe, imaginative physical play. This brings opportunities for every camper’s intellect and imagination to get plenty of exercise at the same time.

Children at coed camps learn how to relate with members of the other gender as friends and equals. Skills of social interaction are creative and independent but stay in keeping with each child’s family teachings. Guided by adult friends and capable role models, our counselors, campers get a valuable chance to apply what they have been taught at home in a larger social world.  This is what we call “Partnering With Parents”.

Campers grow to find and be themselves, in a natural setting that gently challenges a child to newer and higher standards for their own behavior. The daily camp existence has activities that encourage perseverance, listening skills, teamwork, and the ability to recognize similarities and appreciate differences in each individual. If it’s a camp like Gwynn Valley where there is a strong emphasis on nature or that has farm animals, children get even more opportunities to relate with the creatures of the natural worlds around us. Self discovery can become a habit that lasts a lifetime.  IMG_2737 5

Over the years when we’ve sent our end of session survey’s, parents have commented on the biggest benefits gained from a camping experience here at Gwynn Valley.  I just wanted to share some of these with you and this is my top 20 list, give or take a few.  These are in no certain order.

Learned life skills that will translate to entering high school and college

Came home willing to try more foods

Exposure to different cultures, nationalities, and languages

Made a lot of new friends and they stay in touch

More social

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More thoughtful

Had mentors (counselors) who were great role models

Really enjoyed learning new outdoor skills and camping

Learned to live with others

Came home and was more responsible

You could see and feel the confidence of completing the session and the Mountainside experience

Was able to see and understand other’s perspectives

Ability to take chances and leave his comfort zone

More confidence in schoolwork and sports

Camp was a true sense of accomplishment on their own with supporting letters from home

A new appreciation of the natural setting around our house

Being a role model for younger siblings

Having positive male and female role models closer to their age than we are

Has learned to self advocate at school and in other social situations

Able to pursue independent interests

More expressive

Comes home tired but totally energized about the experience

 

Without a doubt camp does a world of good and we hope you will be a part of our world of good here at Gwynn Valley in 2015.  See you soon!