Why send your kid to camp? Don't worry - I made a list...

Ooooooo - I love lists. Christmas time just screams lists, doesn't it? I'm sure with all that has been going on in your world - there's not a lot of time to make another one. So I went ahead and created it for you! Today marks only 15 days until Summer Camp Registration opens. If you haven't thought about Summer 2018 yet...you should really start (along with baking cookies, giant turkeys, wrapping gifts, and chasing the cat out of your Christmas tree).

Camp is awesome. You know that - otherwise you probably wouldn't be here reading this blog. Or maybe you're a first timer...thinking about sending your son or daughter to camp and you are just trying to figure out if this "outdoorsy, crazy game-filled, Bible camp thing where my child is in the hands of complete strangers" is really the right thing to do...

Let me help. I am what you call a camp veteran - a lifer. I'm not ashamed to admit that. I attended camp every year from when I was five years old until I graduated. I attended sports camps and Bible camp. I even attended multiple camps of each in the same summer. When I graduated from high school - it wasn't even a decision I had to make. I was going to work at camp. I did that for five summer seasons while attending university. After that? God led me into full time ministry where I've been for the last 12 years. This next summer will be my 19th summer that I've worked at camp. Let's just say I've got a lot of love for what camp is for kids.

Here are 10 reasons to send your son or daughter to camp...
  1. Kids learn to be independent. When kids are able to successfully spend time away from parents it can help them develop autonomy. It's true - you really don't know how they're going to do until they're in situation. Out of more than 1000 campers - only a few have serious struggles with homesickness. Many kids come home from camp with increased self-esteem, because they’ve had the opportunity to tackle new challenges on their own. If you ask me...usually the challenge is not homesickness...it's kidsickness - the separation anxiety that parents have when their kids are at camp...or it could be jealousy because camp rocks. :)
  2. Children often have an opportunity to reinvent themselves. They may be shy at school but can become both popular and more outgoing at camp. Who doesn’t long for the opportunity to try on a new and more fulfilling role? One camper this last summer said, "Camp is important because of the kind of people here. You know them only for a week but they grow on you and although you may not see them again, they make a difference to you."
  3. Camp is a place for kids to belong. From learning silly songs and yelling at the top of your lungs in Yodel 'n' Hum to dancing to songs in chapel, memorizing scripture with crazy actions, to dressing up crazy. Camp offers a place where silliness and hilarity is embraced. Nobody notices who is supposed to be "cool" at camp. It's a place where social norms seem to melt away. One camper had this to say about his experience this last summer, "It's like becoming a family through the week - you really get to know people.". We have a lot of campers who talk about how they never realized that they could make friends so easily.
  4. Camp strengthens social skills. We mentioned it a few weeks ago. One of the things we hear from kids about why camp is so special is that they get to unplug or not be around their devices. Can you imagine your son or daughter being happy about that at home? Increased screen time is making it more difficult for kids to acquire and strengthen social skills, which are as vital to success as academic skills, and essential to building and maintaining healthy relationships. Camp offers an opportunity to chip away at this social skills deficit. A 2014 study published by UCLA researchers found that after spending just a week at camp, away from on-screen media, sixth graders were better at reading the nonverbal emotional cues of those around them, a key indicator of social/emotional intelligence.
  5. Camp gives kids a chance to make deep connections. Camp enables kids to expand their social networks. Social expectations—while not entirely absent—are often softened at camp; boundaries that exist in school settings are blurred. Some camps also provide the opportunity for kids to build friendships with a diverse group of peers, bringing together kids from varying faith backgrounds, socio-economic groups and ethnicities, as well as providing a place for kids with varied interests to find common ground. When kids live together, they have the opportunity to develop meaningful relationships with peers. Those who spend time away at camp frequently describe making lifelong friends. Peer relationships aren’t the only ones that thrive in a camp environment. Kids also have the chance to form bonds with adults who aren’t in parent or teacher roles and opportunities to practice interacting with adults without mom or dad prompting them or speaking for them. "Camp feels like a safe place to share and not feel judged." - Pit Crew 2.
  6. Camp provides affirmation. Because of the variety of activities and challenges offered at camp, kids are empowered to discover their own gifts and talents, what makes them unique, even when those traits that are well outside the bounds of what’s celebrated at school or even at home. Our Cabin Leaders will work to bring out the best in each camper, helping him or her discover new passions and strengths.
  7. Campers develop new skills. By trying out activities such as crafts, canoeing, or horseback riding, kids have a chance to expand what they’re able to do. Particularly for kids who may feel excluded from some activities during the school year, camps provide an opportunity to be included – and to hone in on skills kids may not know they have. And we all know what a wonderful experience it is to be included.
  8. Campers get to experience life without electronics. Let's be real - we all go through our day interacting with devices. Smart phones, tablets, computers, hair blowers, cars, TV, game consoles, and so on. At camp - kids are face to face with each other, nature, and outdoor activity. It's amazing how many campers identify this as being one of the best things about camp.
  9. Creates wonderful memories. Each year we get visitors to the camp who either attended Evergreen as children or worked here at adults. Lots of people have some kind of hilarious memory of "This one time at camp...". I bet you have one yourself or know someone that does. We'd love to hear it!
  10. Camp changes lives. Actually - Jesus is the one who is transforming lives through camp. Not just our campers but our staff too. It's a completely unique place where kids feel safe to share, ask questions, and hear the Good News of Jesus Christ. It might be making a friend for the first time, being brave enough to try something that is scary, or even just having the courage to stay away from home for a week - camp can be a transformational experience. 
Whether you are a "lifer" like me, a first timer, or someone just really getting into the swing of what camp is - camp is life changing. In only 15 days - registration opens for 2018. Consider sending your son or daughter, volunteering at camp, or working at camp - it will be life changing.

Register here at 9am on January 3rd.

.: jogee :.


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