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HAVE YOU EVER TRIED TO WHISTLE WITH SALTINES IN YOUR MOUTH? HAVE YOU EVER SERVED GORP AT A ‘FINE DINNER PARTY’? HAVE YOU EVER GARGELED THE STAR SPANGLED BANNER AT A CAMPFIRE IN FRONT OF 200 PEOPLE? WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME THAT YOU READ YOURSELF TO SLEEP BY FLASHLIGHT? WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME THAT YOU GIGGLED WITH YOUR BEST FRIEND UNDER THE STARS IN YOUR SLEEPING BAG? WHEN DID ACHIEVEMENT MEAN THAT YOU MADE A CHILD SMILE? WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME THAT YOU FELT LIKE YOU WERE THE MOST IMPORTANT PERSON IN THE WORLD? . . . WELCOME TO THE WORLD OF CAMPING
What an honor it is, to be the mother of four amazing young adults, AND to be a Camp Director who is blessed with experiencing magical summers with children and adults from all over the country and from all over the world. I have the pleasure of seeing each of our Alford Lake campers, through the eyes of both parent and Camp Director. This affords me the wonder of watching the growth and development that occurs for children in a resident camp experience.
Now you may ask – what is so different about the resident camp experience compared to the hundreds of other opportunities for children? I realize that my answers may be somewhat biased, but in my opinion, the resident experience gives the gift of time, place, and capable leadership which will touch the very heart and soul of a child as it does for all of us in camping.
Where can we, as parents, find enthusiastic role models who are confident enough to stand up and not only articulate, but live the values in which we believe so firmly for our families - where our values are being reaffirmed by voices other than our own to whom our children will listen and in which they will believe?
For those of us who have had the opportunity to have seen generations of individual successes, we feel strongly that the answer to the above questions, without a doubt, is CAMP. It is at camp that our children can be exposed, 24 hours a day, to constant care and support; to respectable young adults who work hard with a heart to love and nurture our children; to peer interaction which allows our children to constantly learn, by living together, compatibility and flexibility; to learn how to miss their family AND to love their camp, both emotions experienced at the same time – this leading to an acquired depth of understanding that will ‘ready’ them for a life time of events separate from their family. Camp is a place where our children are encouraged to ‘walk tall’ with their family values in the forefront of their minds; and where they will continue to realize their strengths through accomplishment and leadership which accents the individual mosaic of their lives, both present and future. What a powerful way to enhance the life lessons we are trying to impart to our children, by simply providing them with personal connections in a character-based community.
The critical component to this important journey is to find the right match for our children in a summer camp. Let me suggest those things that might be most important to us – health, safety, warmth, a quality educational experience that will prepare our children for what is next to come in their lives, independence, challenge, respect and appreciation in a diversified community and the atmosphere of support to try new things and take exciting yet, safe risks. We may also want to find a place that emphasizes strong character and integrity, and that provides healthy choices which enable our children to develop a solid skill-based opportunity to succeed and yet learn to be resilient when encountering set-backs. All these ingredients can become part of our children’s ‘heart and soul nourishment’ as they steadily grow into motivated, self-confident adults.
When a wonderfully valuable summer camp experience feels like the right choice for your child and your family – ask questions (any or all), listen for the answers that will compliment who you are as a parent and family. Look for quality, confident knowledge, and depth of experience and understanding from the professionals who create the team who help to organize each camp. Be strong, parents, as this is a big decision and we, as Camp Directors, do not take it lightly. A summer experience for our children is one of the finest gifts that we can give to them – to promote growing self-esteem, to expand their list of life navigating tools for the future and to promote the love of community and confidence in their aspirations for life. Camp can be THE place for us as parents, to connect and to grow ourselves, and to learn to trust in the safety and warmth of an extended family. As we say at Alford Lake Camp, we experience; The Gift of Believing in Oneself and The Magic of Connecting with others in a place where Values Matter and People Thrive.
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