For this post, Chaco invited guest blogger, Nick Maciel, to share how camp has shaped him as an adult.

Oh, the dog days of summer. There is nothing quite like the feeling of sunshine and warmer weather, especially when it means summer camp is right around the corner. On the surface, it seems like a week or two of games, friends, and adventures galore, yet there is something deeper going on that makes camp unforgettable. Having attended multiple camps throughout the years, one thing is clear; summer camp can and will shape you in ways that last a lifetime.

Growing up, I had a team of buddies that were closer than family to me and still are to this day. As soon as school got out, the countdown was on. We all knew that we had something to look forward to in a way that nothing else could match up to. Sure, we had pool parties, barbecues, and various sporting events, but the camp environment fostered much different interactions. All filters were removed, as camp wasn’t about who was the coolest, it was about how we could have the most fun together and meet new people along the way. And, best of all, we knew that everyone, including the camp staff, were there to push comfort zones in the best of ways.

I can vividly remember the first time I went to camp. The excitement was at an all-time high, yet I was nervous that I would rely too much on the friends that I already had instead of venturing out to make new relationships. As it turns out, I was worrying for no reason! From the moment we arrived, everyone was included in each activity in a way that was welcoming and judgment free. Introverted, extroverted, or somewhere in between, this was an environment designed with diversity in mind. Before I knew it, my group of friends had doubled, and I had tools to help me foster relationships in every aspect of life beyond this point.

Aside from interpersonal growth, camp opened my eyes to the beauty of the outdoors. Having grown up in an urban environment, I was not aware of what I was missing. The trees, fresh air, cool mornings, and sunsets by the lake were absolutely mesmerizing. The scenery brought a sense of calm that I fell in love with and continue to seek out today through trail running, backpacking, and road trips. Without camp, I think it would have taken me far longer to realize how important a connection to nature really is for both physical and mental health.

Regardless of what camp you happen to attend, the benefits are astounding in ways I have only recently come to understand. From teamwork in a work environment to getting outside to breathe in a bit of fresh air, camp seems to be the common denominator that led me to stretch at a young age and continue to do so throughout my adulthood. I sincerely wish I could relive those summer camp moments. Who knows? A camp counselor position may have a place in my future!

This blog was provided by Chaco.

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