Have you or someone you know been thinking about sending your child to sleepaway camp? Last year was my first summer at sleepaway camp in Maine and I learned many valuable lessons, including responsibility, friendship and how to do many new things. So here are five things I learned during my seven weeks at camp.
One of the biggest things I learned at camp was responsibility. I learned how to keep my things organized without my parents help, to make my bed every day, to bring the correct equipment to each activity and to be on time for events and meals. We were lucky to have great counselors who reminded us to put on sunscreen and pick up our clothing, but eventually we became very independent and didn’t need them as much.
At camp it was very easy and important to make friends. Camp friends are the best kind of friends because living with them makes them feel like family. At the end of camp, I felt like I had 200 sisters even though I didn’t meet them all personally. If someone at camp was feeling homesick we would gather around them and take turns trying to make them laugh. And no matter what, camp friends always have your back. I am lucky to now have a whole new set of friends who live all over the country (and love to come visit Miami).
- Making Good Decisions
At camp you have to know how to make good decisions because your parents can’t make them for you. What to eat, how to resolve conflicts, and how to treat other people are just a few different decisions you have to make. At camp I had an argument with one of my bunkmates and we had to figure out how to resolve it ourselves. Eventually, we just apologized and everything was fine.
Living with other girls can be tough, especially if you don’t know them very well. My bunk had girls who came from everywhere from Vermont to New York City and we all had to live only a few feet away from each other. We also had to adapt to an unfamiliar environment. It felt strange to swim in a lake instead of a pool, watch out for spider bites instead of mosquito bites, and ride in boats instead of cars. But soon strange turned into fun and we loved camp even more for all it’s amazing experiences.
- Trying New Things
At camp there are things you have never done no matter where you live. From tubing to doing cartwheels down junior hill, there are endless possibilities for us to do things we have never done. There are also new foods to try at camp. Before camp, I had never wanted to try a plum, but once a friend convinced me to try one, they became my go-to snack whenever I was hungry.
There are many lessons to learn at camp, so to all the parents deciding whether to send their child to sleepaway camp: You definitely should! Sleepaway camp is a wonderful experience and children who go will learn many valuable lessons and make lifelong friendships… all while having a spectacular time.
Edie Carneiro is a fourth grader who is currently counting the days until she can return to camp.