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Are Your Children Headed to a Summer Camp?

May 28, 2022

Another Way for week of May 20, 2022

Are Your Children Headed to a Summer Camp?

Summer is not far away. While some camps may be at capacity, I know that many church camps for children were covid-curtailed in recent years so it may not be too late to sign up children or grandchildren for a marvelous/challenging/astonishing week out in nature.

Yes, camps can be expensive but if it is a church camp, many have support programs through local congregations for reduced pricing.

The woods and creek at our church camp

That aside, what does camping do for children? Or families? Day camps for younger children are a good way to introduce children to the fun, learning, and friendships that can happen in that setting. There are many varieties to chose from: sport camps, drama, music, art, and birding camps abound in many communities. A week or even three days away from Mom and Dad can help kids learn and mature from nature, new relationships, and loving, teaching adults.

One of my daughter’s friends took this photo of her sleeping in the cabin, not me!!

As a bit of history of camps for children, I was fascinated to learn that camps began in the 1870s—mainly for boys. By 1900 when my grandpa would have been a child, there were just under 100 camps known in the U.S. By 1918, there were more than 1000. (Google the history of summer camps.) In Indiana where I lived, church-related camps started spouting up in the late 40s and early 50s.

Counselors are often young, maybe still in high school, and kids usually love them.

My camp experiences as a child were church camps. When I was very young, my parents took our family to several week-long family camps—one near Lake Michigan and one in Ontario—which was pretty exciting for all of us. Dad was a deacon at our church so it may have paid for part of our participation to help strengthen Dad’s gifts and leadership skills. Little Eden in Michigan held yearly “farmer’s family camp.” Dad and all of us enjoyed the fellowship and new friends made. Dad even talked me into leaving my precious pacifier behind in our cabin!

These early camping experiences prepared me for going to my first full-week away from Mom and Dad as a nine-year-old. I was excited to spread my wings and be like my older sisters. But a week can feel incredibly long at the outset when you’re nine. I was put into a cabin where I didn’t have any of my church friends. A camper in my cabin was experiencing extreme homesickness and kind of “attached” herself to me. Together we made other friends and survived (especially for the homesick girl) the week.

And with our own daughters, it was not my oldest daughter who got to go to camp first. Because of the way the camp scheduled their weeks, my second daughter was able to do “something first” before her big sister. She grew a little apprehensive (and we did too, I’ll admit) as the time neared. But she braved up and while we as parents were a little worried for her, I think she had a fine week and was happy to tell her sisters all about it when she got home. The dynamics of a family change when one member is away, and especially younger children may get to experience what it is like to be the “oldest sibling” for a change.

As I think back on the spiritual nurture and Christian education of our daughters, I give much credit to the experiences they had at our church camp. They came home eager to share songs they learned such as “Pharaoh, Pharaoh, we gotta go” to the old rock tune of “Louie, Louie.” They would boogey to the song in front of our whole congregation, producing smiles and wiggling bodies. They also participated in a music and worship camp in the wonderful Smoky Mountains, where they learned to sing beautiful choral music which they also shared with our congregation.

Fellow campers waiting for action at my daughter’s camp.

If you can’t tell, I highly recommend camping experiences for children if you can at all afford it. Choose carefully of course, and listen to the interests and goals of the children.

What memories does this stir for you?

Did you or your children/grandchildren get homesick the first time away at camp?

What did you or your children learn?

Comment here or share with me at anotherwaymedia@yahoo.com or Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834.

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books. Another Way columns are posted at FindingHarmonyBlog.com a week after newspaper publication.  

2 Comments
  1. This post stirred memories of Girls’ Camp and Family Camp at Laurelville, PA, a church camp. You may have heard of it. I remember feeling homesick for a day or two. I also remember regretting the green and yellow gimp I chose to make a belt. Too late, I wished I’d chosen different colors. Oh, well!

  2. Thanks for your thoughts and memories: never went to camp at Laurelville but certainly stayed there many times for meetings and conferences. (Probably would have had more fun as a camper!) I had to look up what “gimp” was in terms of crafts. I’ve seen it but never worked with it. Maybe you were wanting to be like a girl scout (weren’t their colors green and yellow??) I always envied the girl scouts I guess.

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