Lessons from Camp

My son, cub 2, is working at a Walton Family Foundation funded Christian sports and adventure recreation camp. At first, I was skeptical at best. After reading the research by the Harvard Graduate School of Education, I’m a believer and wish that camps like this existed for all students for three reasons. Campers and counselors take a break from technology, uncover new skills, and spend daily time in reflection. Perhaps more importantly, this particular camp provides a sliding scale for tuition based on parental income. Even students who are not academically or behaviorally prepared for the overnight camp can still attend a day camp version.

As a child, I attended summer camp from age eight through eighteen. I learned much about myself by attending camp every summer. I learned to solve my own problems, to make my own friends, and to enjoy the thrill of competition. I don’t doubt that my parents also enjoyed the opportunity to spend time with my brothers without me, the baby sister, (princess). My camps were typically one week no thrills United Methodist camps. Cub 2’s camp has over sixty activities.(rock climbing, ropes course, swimming, water slide, fishing, canoeing, mountain biking, archery, basketball, volleyball, horsemanship, skateboarding, hip-hop dance, cheerleading, pottery, wakeboarding, sailing, water slides, stained glass, riflery, nature study and conservation, woodworking, candle making, and so many more) So many opportunities to learn new skills. Notice that no technology is required nor allowed. Campers and Counselors relinquish their technology at the gates.

http://peacelearningcenter.org/the-mindful-path-improving-sel-competency/

The mandatory break from technology and the unique types of games enable campers the time and opportunity to uncover new skills. Skills to develop friendships, to set and accomplish daily goals, to solve personal problems, to trust adults, and to view modeled appropriate adult behavior. Campers who grow up in poverty may not have the opportunity to develop any of these skills outside of camp. Camp provides the time and place to grow in these social emotional learning skills. Campers learn basic life skills like time management, making a bed, saying a prayer, trusting peers, supporting a team, and more importantly, learning to believe in yourself.

Reflection requires time. Campers are provided the time to ponder and to be mindful. Beginning the day and ending the day with mindful activities enables the campers the time to grow in attention, compassion, and emotion regulation. Research on Mindfulness shows that campers with the opportunity to reflect could have improved outcomes in adulthood. Camp War Eagle provides campers the opportunity to reflect and grow new skills without the presence of technology. Campers are removed from the present world so that they can become more present and to have the time of their life while gaining a greater appreciation for God, themselves, and others. The Harvard Graduate School of Education newsletter states: “These opportunities are especially importance(sp) for low-income students, many of whom already have fewer opportunities to gain these skills outside of school.”

Cub 2 is being afforded an amazing summer opportunity to help campers grow as human beings. Knowing that this summer might make a huge difference in the life of a child is inspirational. I’m thankful for organizations such as The Walton Family Foundation for “creating opportunity so individuals and communities can live better in today’s world.”

Works Cited

“Camp War Eagle.” Home. Web. 08 July 2017.

“Lessons from Camp.” Harvard Graduate School of Education. Web. 08 July 2017.

“Research on Mindfulness in Education.” Mindful Schools. Web. 08 July 2017.

“Who We Are.” Walton Family Foundation. Web. 08 July 2017.

Suzanne Rogers

@Rogers_Suzanne

District Director of Professional development, AP English teacher, ELA Coach, TPN Teacher Leader, and cradle United Methodist. https://medium.com/@rogers_31979

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