Send your kids to camp. For your benefit. For theirs. For the camp and for the campers there. Send your kids to camp.
At camp, they’ll be a part of a community all their own. They’ll become emotionally attached to burnt rope on their wrist, and have a song for any occasion on cue, and forget how to shower or flush, and think sunscreen is moisturizer. And they won’t bat an eye at the thought that it’s weird.
They’ll fight over who gets to set the table, and 7:00 a.m. no longer sounds absurd to wake up to on a summer morning. They’ll learn to do things on their own, and they’ll learn to rely on others. They’ll learn how to survive on their own for two weeks, and they’ll learn how to help each other through it.
They’ll grow up on summers away from TV, and forget Facebook exists. They’ll relish the joy of sleeping outside, swatting mosquitoes at campfire, swimming everyday. They’ll savor the feeling of pushing water behind them with a paddle, the curl of earth under their feet as they scale a mountain, the whoosh of air behind the tail of an arrow as they fire. They’ll forget about appearances, relish tan lines, recognize the beauty of a smile over anything else.
They’ll strive for a job that fulfills them and pushes them over the final paycheck. Or maybe they’ll labor all June for money to balance the counselor job. Or they’ll leave the camp behind with a heavy heart. Either way, they’ll learn to pick a job they love over the paycheck they want.
They’ll branch out further in life, used to leaving home. They’ll know how to lose track of time, knowing time only by activity change. They’ll appreciate downtime, but love flurries of activity. They’ll be there for one week, two weeks, a month, but it’ll end up influencing their lives.
So send your kids to camp. Send them so they’ll learn to set tables and make beds and wake early. Send them so they’ll know how to be a leader, paddle a canoe, weave a bracelet, and sing as loud as they can. Send your kids to camp so they’ll learn to love, learn to love themselves, and learn to love others. Send your kids to camp because they’ll realize who they are, or who they want to be.
And prepare yourselves for a year of camp stories, and for a flurry of songs. Prepare to learn names of kids you’ve never met.
And for your kids to have a need for sunshine, a need for campfires and companionship.
Because camp is an infectious melody, and a life-changing time, and a crazy, indescribable summer.
Send your kids to camp.
For your benefit, for theirs.
Please, send your kids to camp.
This article was written by Tamsin Andrews, courtesy of The American Camping Association, March 14th newsletter