Camp for Kids: Not the Way it Used to Be…and That Is a Good Thing!

No electronics. No food from home. No parents. YIPPEE, the kids squealed. The parents smiled in the back row of the informational session about the Nature Camp where our children are heading for a week in May. Hmmm. No kids for a week. Hmmm.

This morning after a great presentation to the kids with slides and all, Heather, camp counselor extraordinaire, answered the children’s questions.

“Can I bring my video camera?” No, nothing expensive or fancy — it might get ruined.

A different child pipes up, “What if I have more than one video camera and one is old, can I bring that?” No.

“What about allergies?” says the daughter of the woman sitting next to me. A long explanation followed that basically meant, you will be accommodated. No worries.

“Can we bring a fishing pole?” I’m not going to say no, but there probably won’t be a lot of time for fishing.

“Can we choose our own bunkmates?” No. Smile. She must get this one a lot.

“What time to we have to go to sleep?” We wind down with evening time together and you’ll be back in your bunkhouses by about 9:15 to start getting ready for bed, but it’s common not to get to sleep until about ten. (Oh, my son will be thrilled, I thought. Lately he is lobbying hard for a later bedtime!)

“Can we write home to our parents?” Yes, you can bring pre-stamped envelopes and everything, but if you forget, I have supplies, too.

And then my son pipes up: “Can we bring a book and a reading light?” Book yes, light no. When it’s light’s out, it’s light’s out. But you can read in your bunk in the morning if you wake up before the others. My son throws me a look — he wakes up between 6 and 6:30 a.m. most days, so a book in the bunk will be helpful.

After the kids went back to class, the parents got to ask all the scary questions about medical emergencies and bullying and oh, my goodness, whatever you can think of that nervous parents ask. Then Heather left and the parents all stood around chatting. We all agreed that we are REALLY looking forward to the kids getting the chance to enjoy this educational opportunity. 🙂

I, for one, am particularly pleased about this camp’s approach. Some camps, I’ve heard, so over-schedule the kids that there’s no time for exploration. This camp has transition time throughout the day. Some camps leave the kids to their own devices at night or other times when they can get into mischief, the kind that’s NOT harmless. This camp builds conflict resolution practice into activities throughout the week and constantly supervises the kids. Some camps let parents visit or call the kids. This camp bans parents in the flesh or on the phone, though letters pre-sent are okay, and I’m thrilled, really. The teachers are going to be there. What do WE need to go interfering for? It’s good for kids to gain confidence and become more independent. Parents can be a real drag on developing these traits, in my opinion.

I think the only thing likely to bother my son at Nature Camp is that he might run out of books. Then again with that later bedtime, maybe he’ll start sleeping in and they’ll have to drag him to breakfast!

Nah. Never happen!


3 Responses

  1. I sense that when my son is old enough (he’s two right now!) he will like something like this. I would be an absolute basketcase, but I need to work on that! The allergy thing freaks me out, but I suppose loads of places nowadays are nut-allergen-etc-free zones so I need to stop projecting ahead and worrying. It is great your little boy is so into reading. I was the same when I was a kid – when I ran out of books on holiday I started on my grandparents tabloids, which were soooooooooooooo boring but I still remember some of the daft stories.

    It’s a funny old world nowadays, so much is artificial, I think it’s great for kids just to get out in the fresh air and race around. The other day my friend and I were in the park and her baby was as happy as Larry crawling round in the dirt (and eating some of it too!) and of course my son was filthy as usual. But these women next to us were talking about us: “I know it’s good for the kids to play outside but look at that woman’s baby, look how dirty he is, she’s gone too far.” Heh heh! We both laughed about that.

    Eeh, and what a sign of the times that the kids wanted to take video cameras with them! At that age I wouldn’t have known what a video camera was!

  2. LOL, Helen! I can’t believe how uptight people can get about good ole dirt. My goodness, this fear of such natural things like soil is leading to all kinds of ecological problems. You know, people using anti-bacterial handsoap — which goes down the drain and then gets into the water supply and then breeds antibiotic resistance organisms? Those people should visit a third-world country and get a little perspective on the plentiful supply of DIRT on this planet.

    Good for you that you let your child play in the dirt! And thanks for stopping by. 🙂

  3. I went to a camp like this when I was in the 6th grade, except they called it “Science Camp” vs. Nature camp. It was probably one of the greatest experiences I ever had as a kid, and I’m no big nature lover. I think it’s wonderful he gets to go. I did take a fat coloring book and crayons with me for down times. The other kids thought it was childish, but at that age I didn’t really care what others thought, and by the end of camp quite a few had colored their share of pages. lol

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