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9 Life Lessons I Learned at Summer Camp

April 15, 2020 | by kaylee vandjelovic

Ahhhh summer camp. A difficult place to describe. A place where relationships and communities are built, where best friends are made for life. A place where you can simultaneously be a kid while growing up, all at the same time. Everyone who went to camp is part of a unique clan – a group that is united by tradition and spirit that cannot be fully understood or explained from the outside looking in. It does not make sense, and every summer, you come home a little weirder (in the best way) than when you left.

After spending over a decade as both a camper and a counselor, I’ve come to realize that I would not be the person I am today without the adventures and lessons that I experienced at camp. Here are 9 lessons that summer camp taught me:

1.     Self-Confidence

At camp, you’re encouraged to try new things, and are often rewarded for doing so. There are limitless opportunities to step out of your comfort zone – from playing new games, trying new foods, or making new friends. You learn so much about what you are capable of, gaining more confidence in your abilities and helping you to discover your full potential.

2.     Respect

Summer camp teaches you how to be respectful of others, your environment, and yourself. Respect means taking pride in your accomplishments, treating others how you want to be treated, and keeping your environment clean – among many other things. In today’s busy world, having respect for yourself and for others allows you the ability to grow as an individual and create strong communities.

3. Teamwork

Anyone who has been to camp knows that a huge part of what makes camp so memorable are the games (…along with the competitiveness that accompanies them). Camp games help foster cooperation and communication and encourage you to treat everyone like a teammate. It doesn’t take long to learn that you have more fun and are more successful when you work together as a team. Camp has a way of throwing you together with people you’ve never met before and forcing you to figure out how to work with them to make it the best summer possible.

4.     Gratitude

Camp thrives on the simple things. Things like campfires, pool days, dress-up, making friendship bracelets, roasting marshmallows, nature hikes, searching for shooting stars, arts and crafts, and trivia games. Without the constant need for technology, camp helps you to recognize and express thanks for the wonderfully simple things in life.

5.     Responsibility

Whether you like it or not, summer camp has a way of teaching you responsibility. Most camps require you to participate in activities such as meal clean up and cabin clean up. You’re expected to do things like help clear the tables and wash the dishes after meals, as well as keep the cabin tidy by making your bed, emptying the garbage, and sweeping the floor. Camp also teaches responsibility for basic things like waking up on time, following the camp schedule, and keeping track of your own belongings.

6.     Resiliency

While camp is all about having fun, it can also be filled with many challenges. These challenges create opportunities to develop resiliency, which helps you learn how to find productive ways to overcome them and move forward. As a result, you become stronger, more confident and have a better sense of self.

7.     Leadership Skills

Camp is a great opportunity to develop leadership skills – skills that you will carry with you for the rest of your life. These skills include things like conflict resolution, positive feedback and praise, collaboration, social development, and problem solving. At camp you are encouraged to celebrate the differences between people and are taught positive and responsible ways to resolve conflicts. You also learn how to solve problems and make social adjustments to new and different people.

8.     Independence

For most people, camp is the first time they are away from their family for an extended period. The environment at camp has structure, offers choices, and helps you understand situations and learn consequences of your choices in a safe atmosphere. You can figure out who you are and discover new skills that can shape your identity.

9.     Stepping Outside of Your Comfort Zones

In the safe surroundings of summer camp, you can push yourself past your comfort zones and release your inner child in a judge-free environment. You learn to have faith in both yourself and the people around you, so that whatever seems scary, different, or impossible is often achievable at camp.

The experiences and benefits of summer camp are countless and last a lifetime. To say that I love camp is a massive understatement. Camp will forever hold a special place in my heart, and I can truly say that I would not be the person that I am today if it weren’t for the lessons that I learned at camp. Camp is a place of growth and adventure. It is an opportunity like no other, and I wish everyone could experience the magic, the home, and the spirit that is summer camp.

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