Unplugging to Connect at Summer Camp

As adults, when we think about summer vacation we remember riding our bikes to the local pool.  We recall the sound of the ice cream truck.  We think about the friends we made at summer camp.  As a child of the 80s or 90s, summer camp was an opportunity for us to meet new people, try new things, and test our independence in a safe and supportive environment.

The world has certainly changed since I was a child, but the basic goals of most summer camp professionals for their campers have not.  We want the kids in our care to make new friends, develop confidence and independence, try new activities, practice leadership, develop interpersonal understanding and empathy – AND WE WANT THEM TO HAVE FUN!

New friendships, new skills, new understandings – these experiences and moments can occur on the zip-line, in the pool, on horseback, at the craft shop, or on the archery range when counselors and staff are trained to encourage and support campers in this growth.  They can’t occur if our hands are full of tablets and phones and MP3 players.  Real personal growth and interpersonal connections require focus and attention.  That’s why I believe summer camp is the perfect place for kids to unplug and connect with one another.

At the South Mountain YMCA Camps, where I have worked for the past 8 years, our campers have the chance to try their hands at canoeing, kayaking, and sailing.  They are able to experience target sports from archery to shooting trap.  They can choose to play any one of a dozen sports and games.  Most importantly, our campers have the opportunity to meet new people from Pennsylvania, across the country, and from around the world.  They are able to talk, share stories, and truly connect in a place that values the worth of each individual.

Every good camp in the country has a story that illustrates how their staff and programs have positively changed lives.  The really good ones probably have research and statistics supporting those stories.  Let me share some South Mountain YMCA Camps statistics, specifically from our sleep-way program, Camp Conrad Weiser:

  • In 2017, 96% of our campers reported making a new friend.
  • More than 90% of our campers believed they were given the opportunity to help others or lead a group.
  • More than 95% of the young people at Camp Conrad Weiser felt they connected with someone who was different from themselves.
  • More than 95% of our campers reported they learned it is important to treat everyone fairly and that everyone has something to contribute.

Like all camp staff, we are proud of our facilities.  We are proud of our program.  We are proud of our staff.  But we are most proud of our campers – who they are, how they have grown, and who they will become.

We hope we have an opportunity to unplug and connect with your family this summer.  We can’t wait to welcome you to YMCA Camp Conrad Weiser.

We’ll see you at Camp!

Nathan

For more information on Nathan’s programs, YMCA Camp Conrad Weiser and Bynden Wood, visit the South Mountain YMCA Camps’ website at WWW.SMYMCA.ORG.