Happy New Year from Camp Network!
As we look back at 2016 and all the memorable moments it held, we thought we’d also take a moment to look back at some of our favorite camp moments. It can be difficult to know which aspects of your program truly impact campers, so we’ve asked them. As a New Year’s gift to you, here are the stories of six campers and the gifts camp gave them.
Spending a week outdoors—in whatever capacity—is a challenge in and of itself. With the myriad activities campers have to do each day, what stuck with them most?
Barbara (Franklin, TN)
I went to a sleep-away horseback riding camp in the Czech Republic. Although I am fluent in Czech, it was still a very different experience being an American at a foreign camp. I thought I was more familiar with Czech culture than I was; I had no idea what the culture was really like amongst other girls my age, and that led to a few mishaps. Luckily, a very friendly girl came up and informed me that the slang I’d picked up was not at all polite! Even though I had a lot to learn, I loved that at the end of the day, I was spending more time with horses than I could dream of. Despite all the bumps and bruises (and purple toes!) you get at horseback riding camp, I loved it, and I'm thankful I was able to experience a community of young women who fully embraced me into the Czech culture at large.
Noah (Radford, VA)
I’ve gone to wilderness camp every summer for almost twelve years. My mom wanted me to join something exciting back in kindergarten, so I did, and I’ve just kind of stayed since. The Mountain Man program was the best because the whole group was really cool and all the same age. We would hang out at the “trading post” almost every afternoon, eating snacks and playing games. Our favorite night of the summer was the closing campfire. During the ceremony, we got to walk around the camp at night and see a completely different side of it. Kind of creepy, but in a good way.
It’s quirky. It’s fun. It’s chaotic. It’s one of those rare phenomena which perfectly blends delightful geekiness with impressive athleticism. Somehow. For those who have experienced it, band camp is something they will never forget.
Catie (Fairfax, VA, marched baritone + color guard)
My most memorable moment in band camp was getting introduced to color guard. Intimately. I marched baritone my first two years and was the shortest member of the section by far. We had one bit of drill where we had to march 30 meters in 16 counts. At 5’1”, marching well only gets you so far, and I was sprinting. At the end of an hour practicing this section, the color guard joined us. To quote my section leader, “One second, she was the there; the next, gone.” One of the guard members didn’t see me coming and clotheslined me with the flag. I’ll tell you one thing: I never forgot the importance of watching my flag when I joined color guard the next year!
Jennifer (Irvine, CA, marched alto sax, bari sax + drum major)
My freshman year, we had our most difficult and aesthetically appealing show. During band camp, we spent so many amazing hours perfecting our technique and bonding as we put the show together, but we finished really late. Our show wasn’t finished until a week before our last competition, and we had been performing terribly for every show before that one. We only rehearsed the last part of the show for a week, but we rehearsed the hardest we had all season. It paid off when we got the sweepstakes award in all the categories except one!
Discussion and drills. Fouls and friends. Jocks and jokes.
Sports camps are about more than athletic improvement. They also focus on team bonding and fostering a love of the game. With everything going on at these camps, what stuck with players most?
Rachael (Spring Hill, FL)
After my best friend told me about it, I signed up for volleyball camp. I had never played volleyball before, but I played soccer and wanted to try another sport. One of my biggest takeaways was that I served well only when no one was watching. When they were, I caved under pressure. That was a valuable lesson for future endeavors, academic and athletic. I began to work on focusing and relying on instincts at the same time. I’m still working on performing under pressure; it’s one of my personal weaknesses, but I’m getting there. Overall, I loved the comradery of the group, how we did obnoxious group cheers, intense drills, and even more intense core workouts. My cheeks hurt and my abs had grown twice their size by the end of the week!
Delando (Riverdale, GA)
I first took on football because of my size and to get in shape. I’ve done camp with my team since I was 14, first with high school, then with Vandy. It taught me to never give up and to push myself and my teammates through hard times. I remember one time when I was the team captain, but I didn’t speak a lot. We were all starting to separate but when I did speak everyone was shocked and really listened. We came together, won the game, and got closer as a team. By doing camp together, we formed a bond as teammates.
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