Summer Camp. In the beginning, it is a place that can be unknown and uncertain. Sometimes with thoughts of excitement, nervousness sets in at the start of the week. But, after the first initial moments of being there, it is a place of happiness in a far off land.
As a kid, to experience summer camp is a great opportunity and creates strong memories. There are a variety of camps available to children. From horse-riding camps, band camps, religion camps to sports camps, many can be found to tailor to your child’s interests. There are even summer camps for grown-ups, if you missed out as a kid.
Jenna Em shares her story of going to summer camp as a kid. She lives in Toronto, Canada with her family, and is a writer for The Huffington Post. She is a busy mother of five children, ages 4 years to 9 years old. Here is her story:
“I’ll always remember my year at sleep away camp, almost 30 years later.”
I was 12-years old, and all of my friends were going away to sleepover camp for the summer. My parents asked me if I would like to go too. I had never been away from home, but I decided that it would be a fun opportunity to hang out with my girlfriends all summer long!
The camp was a 3 hour drive to Northern Ontario, tucked away in the wilderness. Once I arrived, I realized there would be more freedom than I had ever known. I got assigned to a cabin with my friends, other 12-year old girls and 2 camp counselors. We each chose either a top or bottom bunk. Too bad: I wasn’t quick enough and got a bottom bunk.
At once, the more camp-savvy girls started planning on how we would “sneak out” of our cabin at night (which never happened, as the counselors “busted” us). At 12-years old, we thought we were clever, but we were nothing compared to the seasoned counselors!
Our cabin in the woods was so freezing, that I slept with my winter jacket over my face! Our very first morning at the camp we woke up after a fitful sleep, only to find a big surprise courtesy of our prankster counselors: all the girls had had their faces painted like clowns while they slept! Even the girls on the top bunks! And we had been totally oblivious to it! This one memory encapsulates my time at sleepover camp: lots of fun and big surprises!
There was so much to look forward to at camp, like nature walks through the woods, swimming, sailing, canoing, arts and crafts, cook outs, camp songs and archery. I’ll never forget the spooky tale a counselor told us around the camp fire about “Anson Minor”, a ghost tale of a man with a wooden leg, which dragged along the ground and made an eery scraping sound as he looked for unwitting victims! Of course, there is always the “When the Log Rolls Over, We’ll All Be Dead” story, which still makes me smile to this day. (Don’t know it, look it up!)
How great it was when one week, the entire camp was divided into teams, and we battled to find out who was the “best”. I still recall that I was on team “Armageddon”, and our team had to wear yellow tank tops to show our unity. Our team song was sung to the tune of “California Girls”, and it was taunting the other teams that they could never compare to team Armageddon. Fun, happy times. Lots of laughter, teamwork, and friendships forged.
I also remember that at sleepover camp, it was my first time ever falling in love…with peanut butter! They had the easy to spread Skippy kind, and it became my new favourite food. And could I ever forget “Tuck”? It was the camp store that would open once daily, and allow each camper to select their own treat like a pop, bag of chips, or chocolate bar! I saved up one week of my snacks, only to find that another hungry camper cleaned me out in minutes. Camp!
Camp was a great time to make new friends, solidify old friendships, get to fraternize (within reason!) with campers of the opposite gender, learn new skills…and to appreciate your family better. When I returned home from my time away at camp, I was so delighted to see my mom, dad and brother. I was also so exhausted that I slept for a full 24 hours…sitting up in a chair! My mom had to put me into a reclining position! I woke up at the very same time the next day, ate my dinner, and then went back to bed! That was the only time in my life that I slept a full 24 hours!
My kids have been going to summer camp for the past 2 years now, and it has been nothing but a positive experience! They will be attending again this year. At camp they have enjoyed fun, sun, gone swimming, made new friends, learned new skills, stayed active, laughed at silly camp songs, brought home camp crafts, participated in special theme days and field trips, made baked good…and always asked to go back next year. Even though price is always a consideration, we send them anyway, as we believe that summer camp is a great way to keep our kids healthy, happy and active.