An SCV Teen's Reflection on Summer Camp as a Kid
June, 2015 - Issue #128

Summer camp means a hundred things to a kid - making new friends, letting go of everyday worries, learning new things, and going to bed each night bone tired with the day's new experiences fresh in your mind. Whether you're at a day camp or an "away" camp, the experience is packed full of incredible opportunities to broaden one's horizons and explore a new environment.

Everyone who has ever been to a summer camp remembers the first friend they made. At an arts camp I attended as a preteen, I met a girl named Annie - and we immediately went from friends, to best friends, to being joined at the hip. We both loved crafts and fashion design, and spent hours collaborating to make costumes for theater camp. She and I swapped tricks on sewing and painting until we'd created an ensemble that looked like it had come from the next solar system over. I shook the glitter out of my hair, but the sparkle never faded from that first triumph of making something amazing.
Whether attending with familiar faces or new ones, campers look out for each other and make sure no one gets left out or lost in the activity - each endeavor is a group effort and a group success. Just as two pairs of hands are better than one, a camp full of individuals with different lives and experiences combine to form a fuller understanding of what's needed to attain a goal.

At summer camp, there is never a shortage of things to learn about the world around you - and yourself. At a livestock ranch, campers are in charge of their own horses, learn to care for newborn calves and goats, and work hard each day to keep the corrals and trails safe and clean. Being around horses and cattle each day can be the ideal camp experience for the animal-loving kid and an opportunity to broaden one's experience with animal care. What we kids really take away, though, is that we're more confident, caring and responsible people than before we went to camp.

Along with camps that encourage exploration of the world around you, there are those that encourage the camper to explore their own mind - like summer camps that offer classes in dance, writing or music. Campers can learn new ways to write music with harmonies and accompaniment, therefore giving them the tools they need to express themselves in their music for the rest of their lives. Or, through a creative writing course, kids can swap writing with fellow campers and refine their writing style so they are able to put their deepest thoughts down on paper. Due to a music class I took at summer camp, I learned to hear all the parts of a song, from the main base line to the softest hint of a saxophone in the background. It's helped me to develop harmonies to almost any song I want to sing, which will always be my method of calming and re-centering myself in moments of stress. Until you really take a look at how far your limits can go and stretch your creative fingers, you'll never know just what you are capable of. My parents taught me that - but so did summer camp.

Summer camp can be a fun and beneficial experience for anyone, no matter what one's preferences are. I have never forgotten the things I learned at camp, and the friends who helped me make the most of my time there. Whether climbing up a mountain, or studying water beetles under a microscope, the experience is an unforgettable one for any camper. With others who share the same interests and work towards the same group goals, anything can be committed to memory - and to heart.
Kathleen is a sophomore at SCVi Charter School. 800-925-1502
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