When most people think of camp, they think of bug bites, no showers, and disgusting cafeteria food. But, camp isn’t those things. Yeah, bug bites happen. But that’s to be expected when you’re outside. Plus, there’s always bug spray. Also, at my camp, we shower at least once per day. How’s that for good hygiene? And, the food isn’t that bad, especially when we get to cook delicious meals over the fire, followed by gooey, messy s’mores. But, I digress, I’m not here to refute all of your ideas about summer camp, I’m here to change them.

Camp helps kids develop leadership skills. At almost every activity, campers have a chance to lead. They could teach their friends a new game, be the one to sit in the back of the canoe (that’s the seat that steers), or simply leading a search for the largest frog. They learn to work with adults and peers to share their knowledge and accomplish their goals.

Camp gives kids responsibility. Campers are in charge of their own belongings, keeping track of them, lugging them around, and caring for them. Campers, also, do a daily chore, which spreads the cleaning and caring of camp across everyone, making all residents accountable for keeping it nice. During cookouts, kids are also involved in the cooking process. They help check their food to make sure it’s not still cold or getting burned. There are so many ways that kids learn responsibility at camp, and these are just a few.

Camp fosters relationships. A lot of times, campers arrive at camp knowing nobody. Rest assured, though, they leave with tons of friends. Immediately, campers are placed with a buddy as a way of making everyone feel welcomed. They also stay in a cabin with other kids around their same age. Through icebreakers and navigating how to live together for a week, the group is able to bond. And, often times, campers exchange contact information at the end of the session, so they can keep in contact. Camp friends become lifelong friends.

Camp teaches new skills and provides opportunities. Campers have the chance to learn new games, songs, and crafts. They also may learn knots and campfire safety. They learn outdoor cooking, search for crayfish, shoot arrows in archery, climb to great heights in crate stacking, and float on the water in a canoe or kayak. They experience adventures they may not have the opportunity to at home.

Camp gives kids a home away from home, friends that become family, and a lifetime of memories. The camp staff are role models for campers as they guide them in all of the fun, and most kids cannot wait to go back. Camp is more than fun, it’s a place for kids to learn, to grow, and to change. And, that’s why every child should experience summer camp at least once.