There’s nothing quite as liberating as the first time you’re left alone.
Growing up, my siblings participated in an absurd number of sports, which meant they’d be out most of the day. As my parents drove them around, there would be times I, as the oldest, would have the house to myself for a few precious hours each week. I loved these moments, where I could do anything I wanted (within reason) and not have someone watching over my shoulder. In the same way, this sense of limitless freedom is a large part of why many enjoy camp so much.
From the moment a camper is dropped off at registration, the atmosphere changes. They are immersed in a new schedule, with new people, in a new environment. Figuring out this foreign world is exciting, and lets campers make their own decisions on what to explore first. It’s empowering to start with a clean slate and build a unique experience from the ground up. At the end of the session, when it’s time to say goodbye to friends and counselors, it’s especially apparent how far they have come from that distant first day.
Going back in future years only compounds this effect. Campers can build on their foundation, looking forward to seeing old bunkmates and counselors, while still preserving an element of the unknown. If they attend long enough, they’ll see themselves become a guide of sorts, helping younger attendees find their own sense of independence. They serve as a role model for the kind of person camp can produce, and what it can produce in others.
To keep this growth genuine, it’s important as a director to support, not dictate, this delicate process. Counselors should be taught to ease the transition from a school-based, structured schedule to a more casual camp routine. Certain events and classes are of course required, but they should be structured in such a way that the campers want to attend, and voluntarily arrive on time. When they are encouraged to act as opposed to being forced, there’s more motivation for them to embrace the individual, and make the most of their time away from home.
Camp Network provides online registration, website design, and marketing for camps, clinics, tournaments, and more. We work with some of the biggest universities and organizations in the country because we offer a quick, simple, and an extremely affordable solution. We automate the whole registration process so you and your staff can focus on running the event.