For nearly 150 years, the camp experience has changed lives. American Camp Association® (ACA) research evaluated camper and parent responses to questions regarding camp. And the data was staggering. Over 90 percent of campers responded that camp made them feel good about themselves, introduced them to people who were different than them, and helped them make new friends.
So why does the camp equation work? Is it the perfect balance of education and fun? In their 2009 May/June Camping Magazine article, The Boy in the Boat, Stephen Wallace, chairman and CEO of SADD, and Ben Seifer, student and former camper, discuss life lessons learned at camp from the perspective of a camp director and a camper. By showing both perspectives, “The Boy in the Boat” provides valuable insight into camp’s success at teaching real-life skills.
Kids at camp find the resources that help them meet goals, resolve conflicts, and succeed. – Stephen Wallace
My counselors showed me the way without holding my hand. I did a lot of active learning – trying something the first time and seeking guidance from my counselors if I couldn’t figure it out on my own. – Ben Seifer
Self-confidence is gained when campers find meaningful, fulfilling educational and social experiences at camp, interpret those experiences correctly, and have reasonable, achievable expectations for success. – Stephen Wallace
It is not important for campers to become the best at whatever they choose to do, but it is essential that they feel they’ve accomplished something. – Ben Seifer
Camp is about learning – about oneself, about others, and about new ways to approach the world. – Stephen Wallace
My counselors were always encouraging me to step outside of my comfort zone and take risks. I developed trust in them, and with the entire camp community. – Ben Seifer
Beyond the buddies, baseballs, and bonfires lies the true value of the summer camp experience: a heightened sense of personal responsibility for the well-being of others. – Stephen Wallace
One of many things I learned at camp is a conscious responsibility to always be there for others. Away from camp, I have volunteered as a peer leader, facilitating discussions about alcohol and drug use with middle and high school students and their parents, and I have joined fellow athletes in performing community service. – Ben Seifer
For more information on the life lessons learned at camp, visit www.CampParents.org. Parents can also receive updates and tips by following the American Camp Association® (ACA) on Twitter @ACACampParents.