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There’s a Camp for That!

By Stephanie Ransom, Seasonal Naturalist

The author, with a friend, as a camper.

From the age of 6, I have spent large portions of my summers at summer camps. What kind of camps? Practically any kind you can think of. Art camps, tennis camps, nature camps, dance camps, soccer camps, sleep-away camps, book camps, you name it! And I absolutely loved it.

I know it all sounds like a lot, but here are some of the amazing things I got from those experiences: I spent a ton of time outside and grew to love and respect nature. I learned how to be independent and responsible. I learned how to make friends and treat people kindly. I learned how to follow directions. I learned to love being messy, sweaty, and tired. I learned I wasn’t very good at tennis. I learned how to make killer friendship bracelets. I learned that I love being outside. I made lifelong friends that I still hang out with. I played way too many games of dodgeball. Summer was established as my all-time, lifelong, favorite season.

I always thought that if other kids were to have similar experiences, they would have the most amazing summers ever. So what I did I do? I began working at a camp of course, so I could help make that happen!  I have now been volunteering and working at nature and overnight camps for eleven years. I even got a degree in environmental science, which I credit to both my time at summer camp and my nature-minded parents (thanks mom and dad!).

The author at a previous camp counselor gig.

Why should kids go to summer camp? There are few things that are more valuable than learning how to socialize and make new friendsm, as well as spend time outside. Kids get a break from the literally hundreds of hours of screen time; and instead interact with other people and their environment. I can’t tell you how many times a child was sad or even mad to leave his or her phone, video game, or TV at home, but then went on to have the best week of the whole summer.

What are they going to remember? That day they watched 12 episodes of some TV show? Or the day they caught their first fish or rode their first horse, or swam under a waterfall? From my experience, it’s always the latter. 

Camps can also be specific to personal interests. Your child likes science? There’s a camp for that. Horses? Football? Boating? Guess what, there’s a camp for that. You name it, it probably exists.

It’s never too late to sign your kids up for a camp! Preservation Parks still has some openings in our summer camps. But you can also adopt the camp attitude right at home! Put down the remotes, the phones and the controllers. Pull out that list of things you’ve always wanted to do. Take out that park map. Unpack that old tent and sleeping bag, and get out there and enjoy a little of your “wild” side.

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