Today around the country, I've asked a few friends to write about what their experience at summer camp was like.
How formative is camp in your life?
What does it mean when I talk about the summer camp adventure?
And…I've had a lot of response. (I'll try to link to those blogs throughout the weekend.)
But I thought I would give my 2 cent idea here, because I've devoted my life to this thing we call summer camp.
My experience at camps growing up has ranged from the local outback thrown together boy scout adventure, to the high end adventures around the world. I've enjoyed my time as a camper, a staff member, and a president of a camping organization on several different levels.
As a camper I learned how to relate to other kids my age. Sure I had friends at school and friends at church, but something happens when you get a chance to be away from all the normal environment, and you can make new friends from different places. I remember my friend Aaron teaching me how to shoot a BB gun. I remember Matt showing me new music and how to play the guitar. I remember hearing about how other schools ran, other families dealt with issues, and I made some friends I still talk to, even today.
As a staff counselor…I grew up. Being a college freshman and thrown into a cabin of teenagers forced me to learn responsibility. I learned what it meant to be a provider. I learned what it meant to be an advocate. I didn't think I had much to offer, but when my first cabin of kids stayed together for 24 days in a row, I learned how to develop a community and be real friends. We ate together. We played together. We worshipped together. And I can remember when it was time for them to go home, I had a deep pit in the bottom of my stomach because I knew I'd probably never see these guys again. It was like I developed a little family there at the bottom of the hill in Cabin 1.
Not to mention the tens of guys I learned from on the staff side of the camp. I learned how to read and discuss real issues. I learned I could stretch myself athletically in ways I never thought possible. I found a group of men who would become crucial in my understanding of living life together within the confines of a community. It was beautiful. And those guys, I still talk to. I see them now and then, and we have a strong bond that otherwise wouldn't be there. It's almost like it was a fraternity of sorts.
As a Director of a camp, I've learned even more.
I have a unique chance to mentor, teach, experience new adventures, make sure we have comprehensive health systems, manage staff, understand the inner workings of property management, dining hall workings, and how to program a place where teenagers have a good time. I've been a part of client relationships, family healing, and an overall understanding that we're all human on this journey of life together.
My experience at summer camp has been formative to who I am today. With over 10,000 students and several hundred staff, KIVU has been life. It's shaped me, molded me, and made me someone who can bloom in constant pressure.
Some of my best friends in the world come from summer camp. I hope you have a chance to come out and see what it means in real time. But until then…watch this.