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Back to summer camp

Serendipity

July 1, 2013
Billie Shelton (shelton@netins.net) , The Daily Freeman Journal

For some reason, I always find it satisfying when it's a case of the more things change, the more they stay the same. I just like knowing that some things are constant. It's known as tradition.

Take summer camp. That's been around for about a century now. Camps first got underway when life for our ancestors was starting to get easier in terms of making a living. So the movers and shakers were able to look around at the wider view to adopt a more philanthropic approach and to consider how to improve the lives of their children through recreation and programs.

That's when the movement to build organizations for youth first got their start - Campfire Girls, 4-H, Boy Scouts and Girls Scouts -t hat are all still around today. If you are familiar with any of them, you know they were all started at about the same time.

And often these youth programs eventually included summer camp as part of the program, as a way to challenge youth and to encourage their well-rounded development into future leaders. Summer camp is an American tradition that dates back more than 150 years.

Now there are nearly 10,000 camps in our country, and many of the original summer camps are still in business today. The Web site I checked said that over 10 million children attend camp in the U.S. each year.

Which is all by way of saying that I'm back in camp this summer. Like I said, some things just don't change. For most of the summers during my 20s I was on camp staffs in a couple of states, a time in my life that impacted me positively in more ways than I probably realize even today. I was privileged to be part of a unique community those summers as all of the staff worked together to make the summer camp experience all it could be for everyone involved.

Now here I am back at a resident camp spending two days each week in a camp kitchen where meals are prepared for 300 hungry campers three times each day. I never worked daily in the camp kitchen before, so this is something new, but in a way it doesn't feel strange at all.

I remember when there was often a token older volunteer or staff person when I was on camp staffs before, and it is strange to realize that now I am that person. But I also remember when that person was seen as having lots to contribute as someone older and wiser.

I don't know if I'm quite there yet, but I do know that it's good to be back.

 
 

 

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