The Lessons of Camp

October 1, 2012

A big thanks to Hannah (Tom Tom) Wiese from Camp Chinqueka for this summer story! What did your summer at camp teach you? Send your stories to and you might see them here!

As soon as the car rounds the bend and Bantam Lake comes into view, I smile and bounce up and down in anticipation for I know that I am almost at my summer home. I know that as soon as the car pulls on to the gravel drive, there will be my summer family, waiting to greet me with happy screams and lots of hugs. This was only my second summer at sunny Camp Chinqueka, but from the moment I stepped out of the car and my feet hit the ground, I felt like I was back home.

At camp, I’ve learned many lessons — things I could have never learned in school. Lessons such as, if you use a leaf blower to clean your cabin, you’ll probably set off the smoke detector. And, that if you let a CIT drive the golf cart, there’s a 90 percent chance she or another CIT will fall off it. I also learned to NEVER tip the waste toner cartridge from the copy machine, unless you want to wind up covering yourself and everything else in the room in a cloud of toner dust.

But, as it is camp, these lessons, however messy they might be, are never learned alone, but instead alongside at least one giggling friend. Instead of being sources of embarrassment, these stories turn into “camp legends” of sorts, stories to be shared by campfires for years to come. And that, I think, is the beauty of camp. Summer camp gives everyone — counselors and kids — a chance to be their own crazy, goofy selves.

At camp, it’s cool to wear underwear on your head and swimsuits over your neon spandex to campfires. It’s cool to make up a song about a “free-spirited pigeon” and belt it out while floating down the river in an inner tube. It’s cool to wear mismatched flip-flops and go days without shaving your legs because you’re having too much fun to be bothered with small details like that.

Camp is a place to relish the small things: ice cream sundaes; the whisper of the wind as it blows through the tall, stately pine trees; and the hug from a camper who just accomplished something she didn’t think she could do. Yes, at camp, the campers grow up, but so do the counselors as camp help shapes them into the people they want to be.

Photo courtesy of Cheley Colorado Camps, Estes Park, Colorado