What I Learned From Camp: One Mom’s Take

 
I went to science camp. It was called “Wings” and it was an all-girls camp.  I went to an all-girls science camp called “Wings.” Could it get any cornier?
Just based on those facts alone, you might call me a dork.
You might.  I did the friendship bracelet thing, the talent shows, and the fieldtrips – all of it. If summer was on its way, I knew I was on my way to camp.
At first, it was annoying as I would have much preferred to stay home and watch television all day.
But as a girl who grew up in a not so great neighborhood, being raised in a single parent household and walking around with the utterly embarrassing label of being an “at-risk” youth…. I needed camp. But maybe not in the way that you might think.
You see, my mother did most of the rearing as it relates to values and morals. She was what kept me off the streets. In fact, I didn’t get in any trouble and I think most of that came from her. But camp did something different for me and my mother knew it. That’s why as often as she could, she enrolled me in something year after year.
Camp, for me, wasn’t just about meeting new people, learning new concepts and becoming well-rounded; though I’m sure I benefitted from those things. Camp brought me contrast. Camp brought me challenges. And most importantly, camp made me a self-aware leader.
One of the brilliant things about camp is that when you’re placed in a new setting with new situations and new people, there’s very little chance that you won’t grow. Spending a select amount of time in an environment that causes you to fend for yourself and live the experience on your own is the perfect way to not only understand yourself, but to also be sure of that understanding.
Think about that. You become so used to the varying contrast that you are clear on who you are, your likes and dislikes…that’s an incredible thing to be granted as a child.
With every instance of attending a new camp, I found a new way to introduce myself and decide how I wanted to communicate myself to people. It was like I got to start all over again with a new set of people without the labels. I wasn’t “at-risk” at camp. Any embarrassing moments or defeat from a failed test from the previous school year was erased and I was granted another chance to prove myself…to myself. I could see that I was getting better and from that betterment I was gaining confidence in myself and how I spoke. Lessons learned with the curriculum of that camp and with the people I came to know provided me with the opportunity in being able to see myself authentically and then share that in my time there. It gave me permission to get it right. It gave me permission to know that I was okay and as perfectly imperfect as I could be regardless of my circumstances. The more I went to camp, the more I got a clearer view of the person that was evolving.
Camp helped me grow.
And as corny as it sounds, it gave me wings to fly
Ashely J
Ashley is an early childhood enthusiast and play advocate based in the metro Atlanta area. Born and raised in Boston, she is a seasoned early childhood caregiver and having worked as a nanny, teacher, children’s museum interpreter and family helper for the last fifteen years....
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