At age nine, my suitcase was an ivory hardtop case, which opened to reveal two interior compartments. Lifting required leaning 80 degrees while using both hands. I can still feel the weight rubbing against my leg while walking through the wood-floored cabin. Most of the girls were occupied, feeling shy, and settling into their bunks. Of all the great experiences squeezed into six days, finding comfort in new friendships stands out as an exceptionally vivid recollection. The essence of camp speaks not to the exposure of specific life and safety skills, such as canoeing, archery, shooting a BB-gun, rope swinging, and tying knots, but to the moment of finding confidence and accepting new challenges. No matter your age, the summer camp experience leads to defining realizations and unexpected new passions.
Lindsay, age 9
Every summer, I go to my favorite week-long, overnight camp. The people are really friendly, and come from all over; plus, the food is good! My favorite new thing is the ziplines. I was so far off the ground and had to leave the platform! My new friends and I were so frightened but so excited! I cannot wait until next summer!
Kelyn, age 11
Last summer was great! I attended three day-camps, some lasting one day, while others lasted three days. There was a junior mastering gardening camp, a forestry camp, and a sheep and goat’s camp. Of the three, I loved being with the animals. Everyone had the chance to walk either a goat or a sheep in a circle. We learned how to be gentle and watched our animal’s behavior. We all laughed a lot! There were stations to sheer a sheep and milk a goat. By the end, I wanted to raise those particular animals! I’m hoping there is an advanced camp next summer!
Lauren, age 18
From age ten through thirteen, I attended basketball and soccer day-camps, and week-long overnight camps. Straddling between teenage and adulthood, it’s becoming more difficult to find workshops or camps for older teens. Fortunately, through an advertisement, my mom found a four-day pottery class spanning four hours at our county’s arts council, for ages 12 to 18. There were two other girls my age who attended. The lesson offered beginner and intermediate instruction on the potter’s wheel, learning techniques to create a project, applying glazes, and, the ultimate test, firing. I was eager to go and found the camp enjoyable!
Ginger, age 42
We lost my mother two years ago, and our three children were devastated. Through family counseling, I learned about an annual grief camp for children to help them understand loss. Despite it being a one-day camp, my kids connected with other children who were also pained with sadness. It enabled them to open up while understanding their feelings, and know they were not alone.
Michelle, age 48
We are a military family who recently returned home to North Carolina. I was thrilled to learn about a local week-long summer camp that dedicated one week to military children. It’s a time for kids with similar lifestyles to bond together, discuss the challenges of having a military parent while enjoying all aspects of camp life. I’d recommend parents learn more and be available the day registration opens to ensure a spot! My kids loved it!
Jean, age 57
At the age of eight, I was a book nerd, timid, and by no means an outdoorsy person. My parents sent me to the unthinkable—two-week summer camp where I was without a good friend or parent for the first time. And, the experience forced me to learn independence- making decisions while building confidence. I may not like bugs and sleeping in an open-air cabin, but I did appreciate having the time to learn more about myself.
Summer presents a window of opportunity for children to take risks in a safe environment while exploring the great outdoors, or a studio or kitchen. Today’s camps accommodate every child’s comfort level from a week-long, overnight experience to one day or multiple half-days. Parents will find plenty of summer enrichment opportunities on social media, through advertisements from county schools, local magazines, newspapers, and community centers. Take time to obtain newsletters of businesses you know which promote child education. Please, be patient; many organizations wait until April to release their program dates.