What Greater Gift Than the Gift of Camp

January 29, 2017
Harriet Lowe

Let me introduce myself. My name is Harriet Lowe and I’ve worked for the American Camp Association (ACA) for almost 16 years—first as the director of communications and now in a part-time role as editor of Camping Magazine, ACA’s official bi-monthly magazine. I have seen the value of the camp experience firsthand.

From the time our grandson Corbin was just a little guy, I told my husband that we’d send him to camp when he is nine years old — “As soon as he’s nine, I’m not taking no for an answer from his parents.” That didn’t turn out to be a problem. My grandson called when he was eight and asked if he could go to camp that summer. I asked him what kind of camp — he said, “Just like the ones you go to — a camp in the woods.”

We had him enrolled before anyone could change their mind. He’s been going to camp ever since—and now he’s 15. We have two other granddaughters who also started camp as soon as they were old enough. Both love it, but our grandson is the true poster child for camp — he believes that camp is his favorite place on earth; he waits to go each year; gets sad when he comes home; and plans how he can keep going each summer until he’s old enough to be a counselor and then he still wants to keep going. Our three grandchildren have each gone from one week to three weeks — it never matters how long; the results are the same.

As campers, they get to spend time learning from caring, young adult mentors in an environment created just for them. And thanks to camp, we have watched our grandchildren learn new skills, make friends, overcome adversity, gain courage, become confident, develop compassion, appreciate diversity, and just plain have a great time. What an amazing investment we are making in their future! What special memories we are providing them! What else could we, as grandparents, give our grandchildren that would offer them more with such extraordinary rewards?

We have two more grandchildren—a little girl age four and a half and a little boy only 16 months. If Addy goes to camp at eight, she only has three and a half years to wait. Zander has longer, but I already have the perfect camp picked out for him. 

Harriet Lowe is the editor of Camping Magazine, a bi-monthly magazine published by the American Camp Association.

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Comments

You are right at our summer camp Swift Nature Camp we have a 1st timer camp. Many of our campers have grandparents paying for and supporting the mission of camp. Often parents that di dnot go to camp do not see the need and and it's the grandparents that need to give that gentile nudge. http://swiftnaturecamp.com

Hey! I agree with you 100%!! The kids loved the camp, they became responsible and independent, they learn how to make friends. One thing you forget to mention is the price, if you don't have the money, you can't send the kids.

Camp is definitely expensive, however there are scholarship programs as well as any number of lower priced options who will work with you. Look into it through your school or research on line. Where there is a will there is a way!

Camp absolutely is a place which creates positive developmental environments for kids of all ages, irrespective of their backgrounds. They learn to foster supportive relationships; build key skills, including the critical life skills that are increasingly relevant in the 21st century; and experience the natural world in a way that develops understanding, respect and supports stronger academic performance. We would call that a WIN, WIN, WIN. (John Austin Cheley Foundation - Funding need-based camperships for high potential youth to attend extended-stay wilderness summer camps that have a proven track record of positively impacting youth development - http://www.cheleyfoundation.org)

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