Growing up, my parents would send me to summer camp for at least one week every year. I really hated this. I would much rather spend my summer alone, walking the beaches and hiking in the hills around our home. I fought it every year but they insisted and off I went, most often in tears, out to spend a week with people I didn’t know, to a place I was unfamiliar with and doing activities I wasn’t used to.
Looking back, this was exactly what I needed. I was a very shy child and although being put in this situation was traumatic, it taught me to open myself up to what the world has to offer. Over the course of the week, I conquered a few fears, made new friends and tried activities that I never would have otherwise. I made some great memories at these camps that have stuck with me.
Camp Colman (Longbranch, WA) seemed a world away, though it was only about about an hour and a half from our home. Campers would sign up for three activities that we wanted to try through out the week. We had time every day to learn about and participate our activities as well as group activities and free time. This is where I first experienced horseback riding, archery and singing the old Beach Boys song, “Sloop John B.” To this day, this song is one of my favorites.
Camp Burton (Vashon, WA) was only located about 15 from our home. As a child with anxiety about being away from home, it didn’t matter how far it was away, it felt like hundreds of miles. Campers would bring the instrument that they played and pick another instrument that you wanted to learn how to play. We had lessons throughout the week for both instruments and performed at the end of the week for all the parents. I remember hanging out with the campers and counselor from our cabin just laughing so hard we could hardly stand it
My oldest daughter is a complete extrovert and when I told her about my camp experience, she begged me to go… somewhere…anywhere! She wasn’t facing the same fears as I did but we knew she would have a great time, if nothing else. We focused on her interest in music and chose Sierra Mountain Music Camp (Nevada City, CA). She is now in her third year as a counselor as SMMC. She has gained leadership skills, coping skills and valuable experience as she pursues an education in childhood education. She loves feeling like she has made a mark on a child’s life.
This will be my youngest daughter’s first experience at camp. She is exactly like I was, she does not welcome the unfamiliar. Though she is somewhat exited, I still see her reservations. Sister will be there as a counselor but in another cabin so she has her space to grow. She will experience new things and meet new people, shaping her opinions for the future.
Did you go to camp? Was it a good experience for you? How has it influenced your future?