That just about sums up my thoughts on summer camp. Summer camp is such a magical place. Anyone can be changed by camp if they will let it. LOL, I saw that on a camp quote page and kinda rolled my eyes, but guys, it is so true. I know I was changed when a camper and having served at 7 different camps over the years, and watching my kids through the years, I can say with certainty that lives are changed every time!
So, when we talk summer camps in our home, the words and conversations are full of anticipation and hope of what is to come.
We have made it clear around January (if talk has not already started by them) that they will be going to camp this summer, and do they have a preference where they go.
Many times, they went with the local youth group to a church camp to spend more time with their friends. Some years that was a very good choice. Other years, the drama was a bit high in our small town and mom and dad vetoed that option and helped them find a different camp to try with interests they really enjoy. 😉
The purpose can be rest. The purpose can be to learn how to sail a boat, how to show a cow, how to sew, how to code, how to get stronger, how to get better at a sport, how to grow closer to Christ. The SKY is the limit! The only barriers might be money and your teen’s willingness to go without a friend. The first year can be rough without a buddy and may take some extra encouragement from you, but if they have a good time, they will happily go back the next year. So, no pressure, but here’s hoping you pick a good camp for them. 😉 On the money part, some of the best camps in the USA are *VERY* expensive. Like drop your jaw, I can’t believe people pay that kind of money to send their kid to camp?! But if that is you and it is followed by, oh, but I sure do wish we could afford to send our kid to that camp. Contact the camp directly, many offer full and partial scholarships.
But, no matter where they go or the experience they have, here are the
These are skills that I can’t really teach after the first round, so the fact that camp helps them refine them is HUGE. Things like the planning for what to take. The thought process of why they might take extra things for certain days or reasons. The mental game of pumping themselves up that at this point I completely stay out of, but I know it’s happening because they are thrilled about going when it’s time. And think of all the social interaction skills they get from being surrounded by their peers constantly in problem solving mode. They grow in their abilities to be a team player. They get instant feedback (LOL, good or bad) on the effects of the words and actions. They get to explore different opportunities and learn more about themselves, all while being as loud or as quiet as they desire.
At the camps, kids come from all around and many from different states. With the different demographics in one place your teen is exposed to new ideas and different rationale for solving problems. There is also the chance to make friends outside their circle of friends close to home, which can be nice when later looking for a different perspective on a situation.
After big mountaintop (or valley moments) it is good for the soul to work through the experience and pull the gold nuggets that can be found for safe keeping and leave the rest so they can begin living back in the present again.
When I grew up this was called a “camp high” and the withdrawals were AWFUL! After camp (and for the rest of summer) was spent lamenting over how boring and meaningless life is without camp. (LOL, I know, but it was a real thing, I promise. 😊) When my kids hit high school, I had them start processing their thoughts when they got home. That might be journaling. That might be many micro-dates with Luke or I to verbally process it. Whatever the teen wanted was fine, but we made sure to help them realize instead of being miserable to be away, they can be thankful the moments happened and move forward.
I do want to tell you, one year, Hannah had a miserable camp experience and it was two.weeks.long. She actually called crying in between week one and week two. So, so much had gone wrong. She had severely hurt her ankle, it had rained the entire week, and her counselors had mentally already checked out of being role models. She was also placed in the wrong cabin away from her group, so was often ignored by her counselor and wasn’t really able to bond with anyone. It broke.my.heart. I asked her if she wanted to come home, we could be there tomorrow and she said no, she would stick it out.
You can’t teach that at home: Miserable. Having an awful time but staying the course to see what God is up to. Ladies, let me tell you, after those very long two weeks were over, the processing, the grieving, the forgiving, the understanding, the searching and finally even finding nuggets to take with her on the continued journey was priceless. Do you want to know gem she obtained from going through that awful valley?
“Even when the journey isn’t fun, I will serve God in any way I can. He is worth it.”
On a side note: Did she go back to summer camp next year? Oh yeah she did and had a fantastic time. Did she go back to *that* summer camp again? No way.
Of course, we love our teens and homeschooling them definitely helps us all know each other better and (learn) to enjoy each other’s company. But ladies, that is a LOT of time together! Make the most of the break and decide ahead of time what you hope to do while they are away.
What does that look like for me? If it is a week, I rest. Maybe that is working on a project or enjoying coffee on my front porch or maybe it’s taking a nap everyday (or maybe all 3) 😉, but I make sure to make the most of that time and refill my cup while my teen is refilling theirs as well at camp. This year it is for a MONTH. I know I am spending one week working on a book I have been writing for 3 years (if you love Christian Fiction/Coming of Age/Romance, hit me up, I’d love to share it with a few people before I share it with the world). I have loved the journey and hope to finish this summer. BUT, other than that, I am thinking about repainting some rooms and/or redo-ing my kitchen cabinets, when I want a break from my favorite subject – helping parents prepare teens for adulthood. 😊
I did a survey on the LIFE 101 PRO page story the other day and 47% said their teens went to summer camp. Friends, let’s see if we can make that more next year! Here’s hoping.
On the journey with you,
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