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.