The importance of summer camp

Some little friends and I swimming in Camp Kanata’s pool on a hot July day, what could be better?

Dear Parents,

I am writing this open letter to parents to encourage you all to sign your children up for summer camp once they come of age.

My parents sent my siblings and me to summer camp as young as the camp would accept. My parents were both campers and camp counselors throughout their childhood, which led them to feel the need to sign us up.

When I was five years old, I was attending Finley Day Camp (FDC) for the entire summer except for two weeks left aside for a beach vacation. One of the friends I made as a kindergartener is still important and relevant to my life now, after ten years. I believe enrolling your children in a summer camp will be beneficial for them and improve how they interact with other children. Although camps have rules, the setting is not as strict as a school setting. Giving children a chance to interact with other kids of their age, but in a less serious setting, will give them a chance to be themselves.

When my brother, Scott, was ten. he begged my parents to send him to Camp Kanata, a sleepaway camp in Wake Forest, NC. My parents agreed, but only if he would pay for some of the cost. He mowed the lawn, did the dishes and helped other ways around the house to earn the money to go to camp. Scott has been going to Camp Kanata every summer since then. He is now 19 years old and has an administrative position at the camp.

I became a jealous little sister and wanted a second home as well. My parents were eager to sign me up for Camp Kanata the following summer. I was only eight years old my first summer at camp, thankfully I had my brother by my side. Now, as a fifteen year old, I am on my way to becoming a counselor at Camp Kanata.

I was fortunate enough to spend three weeks of my summer at Camp Kanata. While my friends were sleeping in, spending days tanning at their pool club and watching hours of Netflix, I was making a new family and growing as a person. The friends I made at Camp Kanata are some of the most important people in my life– I know they will always be there for me on a deeper level. At camp we were able to share things with each other that we would be too scared to share with our friends at home. It was easier for me to talk to people at camp because they didn’t go to my school, they didn’t know my friends and they really just met me. As your child develops into a pre-teen and then a teenager, having friends who act as a third party can help them deal with and get away from their problems, even if it is just for a week.

After each one week session, one camper from each cabin is pulled up in front of the entire camp and asked to share what they learned that week at Camp Kanata. I can specifically remember a six-year-old girl, who I had previously seen in the dining hall putting spaghetti in her hair, say, “This week I learned that it is really easy to make friends at camp.” Hearing a first grader pass along the message of Camp Kanata is a reason I think children should experience camp at least once in their lives.

The times when a camp song, that I learned when I was six, get stuck in my head are some of my happiest and saddest days. Happiest because it reminds me of how carefree I was during camp, but sad because I miss the genuinely happy faces that I have only seen at summer camp.

Summer camp for me is a place where I don’t mind if I haven’t showered for a day– the lake is a shower. It is a place where I can wear more clothes from goodwill than a ‘real life’ store. I can refer to my life at school and home as ‘real life’ because camp is too awesome to be real.

When I compare my summer to my peers, theirs seem more relaxing but also boring and repetitive. I am thankful that I have made friends at camp that I can open up to about anything. I am thankful I have gained the confidence to be more silly. I am thankful for the lessons I’ve learned about myself and other over my past ten years at camp. I believe sending your children to camp will benefit their childhood. Of course there will be days where they get cranky and just want to stay home, but there will also be days where they laugh until they cry.

Heidi Kreis


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