“Kids need camp now, more than ever.” How many time have you heard that saying before? Whether this is your first year as a Cabin Counselor or your 30th as an Executive Director, chances are you’ve heard it more than a time or two. And you know what, it’s finally true.
The summer camp experience, as we’ve come to know it, started about 130 years ago and today, just like then, we need it more than ever. The similarities are too many to ignore: a divided country, a revolution of technology and a yearning for our nation’s children to become a better generation than our own. There are differences too of course, but the stage is set now, just as it was then, for a unique enterprise.
This time, we can do even better than before. Unlike the early pioneers of camping who simply walked into the woods with children for a few days of fresh air, we now have the experience, the knowledge and the resources (more people, places and community support) to redefine how children experience themselves, others and the natural world. We have a chance to make a difference….now, just like before….but better.
The well-being of our children is at an all-time low. Just look around and you’ll see that there are few children thriving, most are merely surviving, and struggling with that. They feel disconnected from others, from nature, from themselves. Their physical wellness is poor, their social health is off and their emotional well-being has plummeted. Just ask them, they feel it. We all do.
So what can we do for our nation’s youth?
We can take our children out into nature to experience character building through skills development….now, just like before….but better. We can give them experiences in the outdoors that build respect and admiration for the natural world…now, just like before….but better. We can role model what it means to live a purposeful life, one full of resiliency, positivity and with a community focus….now, just like before….but better.
We know that the work of youth development makes positive impacts. We’ve seen the fruits of this labor blossom every summer for well over a century. Let’s take this moment in time to learn from our past and look forward with renewed determination and a commitment to future inclusion. Camp is for all. Please, this year do all that you can do to get kids to camp as safely as possible.
After all, “they need this now, more than ever“….now, just like before.
*These views are my own, based on my own experiences and knowledge. They do not represent any other person or entity’s point of view that I am associated with.