Camp is not just recreation and fun. It is more than teaching skills, such as archery or swimming. It is about understanding the beauty of discovery that can lead to emotional growth and maturation. It is the expansion of one's world, a sharpening of one's vision that invites the acquisition of lifelong lessons.
Camp professionals are not just teachers or counselors; they are coaches and mentors. They influence, advocate, shape, love, and protect. And it is true, both young and old do learn lessons from the camp experience. However, those lessons come after experiences that are real, relevant, and personal.
The way in which parents select a camp should be based on intrinsic values rather than external facilities that a camp offers. Camp pioneer, Ruth Isserman is the former owner of Camp Chickagami, who at ninety-seven still serves as a strong, vital supporter of ACA and camp. She noted, "It is the development of a child as a person that is equally as important as academics." Further, "it's the richness of making their own entertainment" and the most important skills we contribute are listening and observing. "We are building better people for a better world," she stated. A shared vision with ACA.."enriching lives and changing the world."
"Who will care when I'm not there?" It's every parent's question when they leave their children in the hands of strangers. Who will take the time to appreciate basic child development, as well as the unique qualities of their personalities? Who will ensure that my children have fun and, at the same time, learn important life lessons? Who will help my children understand how they can work as a team, contributing and succeeding? Who will help my children understand the importance of a community and the responsibilities that lie within? Who will keep my children safe and guard their tender feelings while they are acting invincible? Who will care when I'm not there?
The answer to these questions is the camp professional. They offer children the opportunity to explore, discover, and learn about the best things life has to offer. They are willing to laugh, talk and cry with children, creating an understanding of social bonding. These are the people who are willing to care when I am not there.
The camp experience is a win-win for everyone. Parents win because their children grow and learn. Children win because they have fun and collect lifelong friends and memories. Society wins because the camp experience helps make healthy, productive adults. Camp professionals win because they have made a positive difference in a child's life.