When I was growing up, my dream was to own a summer camp. Actually, my dream wasn’t just to own any summer camp. It was to own my summer camp, Camp Waldemar, a beautiful, idyllic spot located on the Guadalupe River in the Texas hill country, where several hundred girls gather each summer to stretch their legs and their hearts.
I still try to make my way back to camp just to smell the cedar trees and sit under the lofty cypress as often as possible. In fact, I went back to see it just this spring on a birthday trip. But those summers at camp changed my life. Sure, they taught me skills like archery, horseback and canoeing. But, much more than that, they taught me independence. They gave me an opportunity to pursue my own sense of faith in the midst of wondrous beauty. They gave me a chance to lead and to find things I was passionate about. They helped me find my voice, as kids often struggle to do in the midst of so many pressures around them.
Psychologist and author Michael Thompson says, “… there are things that, as a parent, you cannot do for your children, as much as you might wish to. You cannot make them happy (if you try too hard they become whiners); you cannot give them self-esteem and confidence (those come from their own accomplishments); you cannot pick friends for them and micro-manage their social lives, and finally you cannot give them independence. The only way children can grow into independence is to have their parents open the door and let them walk out. That’s what makes camp such a life-changing experience for children.”
I don’t own Camp Waldemar today. Thankfully, the same family does who, with great wisdom and love, held the reins when I was a young girl. But, I am the director of Daystar’s version of a summer camp, called Hopetown. In fact, this summer, we’ll be sharing weekly “Hopetown Highlights” of Melissa, our Director’s, teachings at camp. Our hope is that they’ll be something you can share with your own kids and families. In a way, it’s our attempt to bring you to camp with us.
If your child has the opportunity to attend their own camp this summer, we’d highly encourage it. Kids receive so much at camps all over the world each summer—whether those camps are for one week or six. In a world where anxiety and entitlement are escalating, where kids are addicted to technology, a little time where they can learn and grow and risk on their own is not only refreshing, but often even healing. It sure was for me.
This article from the Washington Post gives great research to back up the importance for camp for kids.