I’ve been thinking about my first years as a camper.

I first went to camp when I was seven. I was a handful. My energy was boundless. My attention span was fleeting. At home, my parents always found me by the trail of chaos I left behind me. No one really ever knew exactly what I was up to, and most of the time I wasn’t telling!

Camp was my rabbit hole. When I went to camp the world changed. I found a place where I could be myself. I was part of a group. No one teased me.

Every summer my counselor was the greatest man alive!

I learned to ride a horse and swim in a pool. We made a fort together in the vast wilderness that we called the Desert. One summer I got to make the flag we hid in our fort.

I came home at night and couldn’t stop talking about camp. I fell asleep during dinner. Camp was a magic elixir for my parents.

Today, as a camp owner and director, I want parents and kids to have magical camp experiences.

Unplug, Connect and Discover.

In 1968, I didn’t need to unplug. We only had 13 channels on the TV and there was an annoying cord on the phone. An app was what you filled out for a job. We played through our imagination. We made our own rules and when we disagreed, we figured out the solutions ourselves.

At camp I connected with boys my age. I looked up to counselors and wanted to grow up just like them. There were so many powerful connections at camp for me. Nature. Horses. Dirt. Songs. Games. Stories.

Today’s campers need the world I grew up in 40 years ago. They need time away from computer screens video games and smartphones.

They need a break from tutors and enrichment and schedules. They need to connect face to face and discover their world “IRL” from the ground up.

Camp still creates the same connections today. Those connections build interpersonal skills that kids need to grow up as effective students, productive employees and happy, healthy adults. Camp built connections give kids resilience.

A camp parent told me this week that the whole reason his daughter was successful in college was because of her experiences at CIC. Her experiences at camp gave him the confidence to send her to another state to follow her dreams.

Businesses call the skills camps develop 21st century skills and wish more young employees came out of college prepared for the workplace.

A child’s world is full of discovery.

At camp I discovered a safe place. I discovered a place I could explore. A place we created together as a group of kids. I discovered a world beyond school and home that I could call my own.

Today campers need experiences like camp to complement their academic education and prepare to enter the workforce. Skills like collaboration, critical thinking communication and creativity are central to the camp experience.

Today we Discover life on an island full of sunshine, wind, sand and the outdoors.

While camp is a special place, what happens at camp is what is important.  At camp we discover amazing things about ourselves. We discover we can be good at difficult things we didn’t know we could do. Things we wouldn’t try in a less supportive environment. At camp, we discover we can be responsible, independent and a good friend.

Camp is more than fun and games. Camp builds the skills children need to grow up, navigate college and contribute to their community.

Come to camp. Unplug, Connect and Discover.

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