Why Send Your Child to Camp?

A personal letter from One Hope Canada’s national director

Summer is a season of new choices, enjoyable memories, and can be a defining time for your child to step out of their normal realm of experiences and gain confidence, new skills, and form great friendships. As a parent, your question of ‘How should my child spend their summer?’  is an important consideration, and we’re excited that you’re asking! Perhaps you are comparing two or three different possibilities your child could participate in this summer and are wondering how a few days at camp stacks up against some other options. Maybe you’re considering your child’s personality and needs and aren’t quite sure whether a summer camp experience would be right for your son or daughter. Coming from attending summer camps ourselves and after watching our two sons – both very different in likes and personalities – experience camp, can we share with you a few reasons why we think summer camp is a unique choice and stands out from the pack?

A whole new way of learning – It’s no secret that today’s classrooms strongly favour those who learn best by the book. Camp, on the other hand, is a natural place for any child of any age or learning style to learn by experience! Children who love to learn by doing, seeing and experiencing will thrive in a camp environment, as they participate in various activities allowing them to explore, discover and be themselves – anything from stringing a bow to building a rocket to riding a horse. Camp is tailor-made to help children discover both themselves and the world around them.

A new way of understanding – Whenever we have new experiences in new surroundings, we inevitably leave with a new understanding – both of ourselves and of others. Camp is a wonderful environment for this exact thing to happen. Take Jessica, for example:  the eleven-year-old camper was terrified of heights, but by the end of her week at camp she had worked up the courage to tackle the camp’s 250’ zip-line. With her cabin mates cheering her on, she climbed the stairs, harnessed in, took a deep breath and jumped – right into the ride of her life. Jessica left that week of camp with more than just memories – she left knowing the value of friends, the beginning of confidence, the thrill of stepping out of your comfort zone… and a love for zip-lines! Camp is a perfect place to explore who you are, what you’re capable of, and be encouraged in the journey.

The incredible value of friends & mentors – It has been said that it takes a village to raise child. While it unfortunately seems increasingly difficult to find a ‘village’ these days, in many ways summer camp can play an important role of bringing caring and respected role models into your child’s life. We can speak directly to this by what we saw unfold in our own son’s life. When Brendan was 15, he spent three weeks at summer camp and met a college student by the name of Shaun. Shaun’s priorities, lifestyle, and the way he interacted with others impacted Brendan in a hugely positive way and the two formed a great friendship. After camp was over, Shaun volunteered to stay involved in Brendan’s life. As Brendan’s parents, we are still thankful for the role that Shaun played as Brendan’s mentor that summer – and in the months that followed! Shaun was an invaluable influence on our son as an older mentor, and we believe that the phenomenal summer missionaries at one of our camps can have the same positive influence on your child.

Growing to lead – Camp provides an incredible opportunity to grow. Whether it is a young camper growing in independence and confidence as he is away from home for the first time or a teenager learning to care for others as she is trained to be a cabin leader, camp – by its very structure – provides an abundance of opportunities of learning to lead at a variety of levels. Many of our camp missionaries were once campers themselves and learned to lead as they spent summer after summer at camp, picking up many skills that can easily be transferred to many of life’s challenges. What would it be like for your child to come home from camp a better, more confident leader?

An opportunity to ask the big questions – One of the greatest gifts we can give our children is a safe place to ask the “big” questions of life. They’re questions that we have all asked ourselves at one time or another – “Is there a God?”, “Why am I here?”, “Who is God?”, “What is my purpose on this big earth?” Camp seems to be one of those natural places where we are given the room to ask those sorts of things. Maybe it’s because one is outside experiencing the beauty of nature, maybe it’s because of the time spent away from the ‘busyness’ of daily life, or maybe it’s because at many camps spiritual things are discussed as naturally as other aspects of life. Whatever the reason, when you provide an opportunity for your son or daughter to explore those great questions, you give them an enormous gift. We consider it a great privilege to help many parents assist their children in stewarding that gift well.

Considering the experiences we’ve had at camp and the knowledge of our camp directors’ strong desires to see kids succeed, we are more than confident in recommending summer camp as a fantastic choice for families and children and we would be more than thrilled to have your family join in on the fun at one of our camps this summer! If you would like some further information on the benefits of camp and how to select a camp for your child, Christian Camping International – Canada has some great articles on just such a thing – click here to get started. Thanks for letting us share our passion for phenomenal camping experiences!

Wanting the best for you and your family,

Bill McCaskell
National Director, One Hope Canada