Nathan Cole, 16 years old, has attended camp every year since he was 5. His eyes light up when you ask what he enjoys most about camp. A typical teenage boy who’s not overly expressive, Nathan can quickly list reasons why he still loves to go to camp. Here are a few benefits from Nathan’s point of view:
“Camp is always fun. Sports camp, church camp, day camp, or week-long camp — it doesn’t matter, I always have fun when I go to camp,” said Nathan. His preference is to head out with a few kids he already knows, but he says he’s attended a few sports camps where he didn’t know anyone on day one.
“The camaraderie happens easily among kids at camps. It doesn’t take long for fun to begin, even with those you’ve just met,” he adds.
Nathan admits that long summer days can get boring.
“I like to get away from the routine and experience things I can’t do at home,” he said. “My favorite camp has stuff like zip lines, paddle boats, go carts, paintball, archery, and riflery-things I don’t get to do at home.”
With activities like that to keep kids entertained, technology gets left behind and exercise becomes a daily occurrence.
“I didn’t have any friends the summer we moved out of state when I was in elementary school,” said Nathan. “I went to a baseball camp that summer and made friends who ended up being in my class the next school year, which helped me adjust to a new school.”
Learning to meet new people and easily form friendships is a valuable skill for kids at any age.
“I learned to appreciate my own family much more after finding out about the difficult home life many kids have,” Nathan said. “Campers tend to open up with each other, and you find out your own life isn’t so hard,” he said.
Kids learn to accept others from different walks of life and appreciate their circumstances as they make friends outside of their everyday people base.
“I’ve gone to a lot of sports camps that helped me get better at soccer,” Nathan said. “I’ve made the high school soccer team the last two years, and I think the camps I’ve attended helped.”
Sports camps provide discipline and individual attention to a particular sport. They help develop an athlete in the game he loves. Competition on the playing field grows stronger as kids move through junior high and high school.
Kids grow accustomed to the authorities at home and school. It’s good for them to experience different levels of authority at camp.
“The camp counselors are usually teenagers, and sometimes kids disrespect them,” said Nathan. “But campers have to understand the counselors’ place of authority, regardless of their age, and consequences for not following the rules,” he added.
Camp offers activities not available at home, and kids are encouraged to try them.
“Some kids don’t like to experience new things, but camp counselors help them move out of their comfort zone and do it anyway,” Nathan said. Confidence is gained when kids overcome their fears.
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Nathan says his camp experience will be different this summer.
“I’m going as a junior counselor for the first time to the camp I’ve attended since I was in elementary school,” he said. “I’m looking forward to helping young campers get out of their everyday routine and find fun at camp!”
Gayla Grace is a freelance journalist and mom to five who sends her kids to camp every summer.
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