There's No Place Like Summer Camp
Now is the time when you start receiving your summer camp brochures in the mail and seeing ads show up in your social media feeds and on Google. As winter seems to drag on, we start dreaming of warmer days to come. However, it begs the question, why do we even send our kids to summer camp at all? What does summer camp have to offer that I can’t find on a camping trip or at the local pool or in my youth group? Each of these things on their own has value. However, there absolutely is no place like summer camp. There’s something so unique and valuable and sacred and special about summer camp, and it’s hard to capture all the reasons why, but here are just a few:
Summer camp is in an isolated environment designed intentionally to foster and build relationships. Yes, your child might balk when they see that we ask them to leave their tablets and cell phones and video games at home. It might be hard to bid good-bye to social media and our constant state of connectivity as we embark on our journey into the woods and wildness of summer camp. This is an intentionally isolated environment. We purposefully say good-bye to some of our home comforts, because these are the very things that might distract us from forming deep and meaningful relationships. When campers arrive, they might not realize it, but every moment of their first day is orchestrated to help them meet friends, start conversations, and adapt to the new space they will be calling home. They’ll talk about expectations, boundaries, names, and stories. They’ll be introduced to traditions, sing silly songs, and interact in safe spaces designed to be the catalyst to the community of camp that is quickly formed each week. It’s why the friends we meet at camp are often some of the best friends we have in life. When we enter this space of isolation, we find a community waiting to welcome us in.
Summer camp daily reminds us of our independence. A child’s parent has to step back when they send them to summer camp. They cannot remind them to brush their teeth at night or to change their shirt in the morning. They cannot correct them when they speak out of turn to their friend, coach them on how to throw the ball, or tell them to settle down when they’re rowdy. For the days that they are away, that child is on their own to make their own decisions and be their own person. Of course, their counselor is there to guide them, but their sense of independence is earned and shaped like no other experience can do for them.
Summer camp brings people from all walks of life together in one place. Children are often involved with kids who attend the same school, play on the same sports team, or live in the same city. When they come to camp, they are surrounded by people from across Eastern Iowa and even throughout the Midwest. However, the unique thing about this environment is that even as they meet people from other places, people who might be different than they are, they are still surrounded by a community that has come to worship, who share their faith and love of Christ, though the practice and expression might look different. It’s a wonderful celebration of diversity and shared belief all in one place.
Summer camp offers a safe place to fail. Initially, we hear the word failure and cringe. Who wants to fail? However, there is so much pressure on kids today to be a certain way, to get a certain score, or to meet a certain standard. They feel pressure to measure up as athletes and as students, and this doesn’t leave a lot of room to just play and be kids. At camp, there’s no tests or tournaments. Everything is all for fun, and everyone is free to try. The diversity of activities offered at summer camp allows kids to open up and explore talents or skills they may never have had the courage to try before, free from pressure to perform at a certain level or have everything already mastered. Competitions and games end with teams shaking hands and friends walking back to their cabins together. There is no pressure or reward for being the best, and it’s okay to explore what makes you “you.”
Summer camp is different every year. Kids grow up and spend year after year coming to summer camp. Why? Because every year can look different. As you get older, there’s always a different program to try, always something new to explore. Our activities are designed with a progression so that you can’t do everything the first time you come. There’s the ability to advance, to grow, and to keep learning. Plus, the community, the friendships, and the staff add a new twist to each week of camp. So many kids strive for new adventures each year and find it at summer camp. Plus, as they get older, their adventure doesn’t end with high school. They graduate and move right into the staff community because this is a place where they belong.
There are a million more reasons why there is no place like summer camp and why so many people call Camp Wyoming home. Come and see for yourself. Sign up for camp this summer!