Earlier this month, Friends Camp received a gift from a first-time donor. When I spoke with the donor to thank her for her gift, she shared that she was inspired to give after hearing her children, nieces, and nephews (all in their 20s and 30s), speak about the impact of camp in their lives over the holidays. These adults were reflecting on how their sessions at Friends Camp fostered in them creativity, understanding, and confidence. This conversation inspired me to share a few thoughts about what a few impacts of a session at Friends Camp can be:
1. Growth in confidence. Going to camp is a challenge. You are living in (quite close) community with many other young people. You have to leave your cell phone at home. You might not have a good friend you already know at camp. Facing this challenge and having an amazing time at camp can make a camper more willing to take on the next challenge that comes their way, whether it is starting at a new school, trying out a new sport, or even going off to college.
2. Young adult role models. Camp allows teenagers especially to make connections with positive young adult role models. Did you see this recent article in the NYTimes? The headline is “Students Learn from People They Love,” but I think it could also be “Campers Learn from People They Love.” Our camp staff are young adults hired for their desire to help campers grow into the best people they can be and trained in the practice of doing so. Let’s face it: camp counselors are cool in a way that the other adults in a teen’s life struggle to be. And camp counselors make it cool to be kind, inquisitive, driven, and open-minded.
3. An appreciation for being “in the moment.” The American Camp Association (by which Friends Camp is accredited) is pursuing an impact study to see the effects of camp throughout a child’s life. One impact they are finding is that people who attend summer camp are often better equipped to live in the moment. We live in the moment pretty well at Friends Camp, whether through a quiet Vespers appreciating a beautiful sunset, songs around the campfire, silliness at a variety show, or diving whole-heartedly into an art project in the Meetinghouse.
4. Skills in community building. Not all the people at Friends Camp are similar to the people from a camper’s family, school, or hometown. Listening to, learning from, and sharing with people different from us seems like a skill that much of the adults in our society have forgotten. At Friends Camp, we hope to create skills in our campers that will help them be adults who can create radically accepting communities.
Want to talk about the impacts of camp on your camper? We love to hear your stories! Email Anna at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call her at (207) 445-2361.