Sleep-away Summer Camp: Less Worry, More Wonderful

Some parents do a lot of hand-wringing over kids going to sleep-away summer camp. The preparation, packing, and worrying are hot topics among moms.

I prefer to talk about how wonderful it is that my daughter went to sleep-away summer camp. She loved it so much that she couldn’t even settle on a favorite class, program, activity or memory. She learned to make a campfire and cook new recipes, and participated in a low ropes course that built teamwork and self-confidence. She swam, read books, and made new friends.

“All of it was my favorite,” she said during the drive home last week.

It was her first sleep-away summer camp. At 8, she was among the youngest of hundreds who turned out for the annual 4-H program in Northern Virginia. Boys and girls learn to appreciate the wonder and majesty of the outdoors with others their own age. The experience of group living means learning to get along with others, understanding and tolerance of people with different interests, and the opportunity to make lasting friendships. Counselors and volunteer leaders also inspire high standards of behavior and the important spirit of camaraderie that young people respect and appreciate.

Specifically, the program aims to:

  • foster creativity
  • facilitate new friendships
  • encourage the development of teamwork
  • enhance self-confidence
  • develop respect for the rights of others
  • create fun learning experiences
  • stimulate hands-on participation in all programs
  • encourage reflections and self-assessment
  • create a sense of community among camping units
  • provide meaningful opportunities of leadership for teens and adults
  • support the negotiation response to resolve conflict

Now, that’s what I call a curriculum. What a fantastic way to learn! Meanwhile, my daughter’s still reciting the 4-H Pledge she learned at camp:

I pledge my head to clearer thinking,
My heart to greater loyalty,
My hands to larger service,
and my health to better living,
for my club, my community, my country, and my world.

So, parents, the next time you’re overcome with worry about your kid going to sleep-away summer camp, try to remember it’s arguably one of the places they’ll learn the most and have the most fun during their childhood. What could be more wonderful than that?




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