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Camp: The Highlight of Summer

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Camp: The Highlight of Summer

Guest Author: Madeleine Schlenz, Camp nurse (and camp mom!)

I know that most people are over COVID, kids especially. They’re exhausted from all the difficulty, changes, and uncertainty that we all lived through. The fact that camp is going to happen this year has brought a renewed sense of hope into our home. The kids have already spent hours talking about camp and what it will be like, dreaming of adventure and rehearsing old memories. All of their excitement has me thinking too.

As a young girl, camp was the highlight of my summer. Well, more like the highlight of my life.  In fact, the first summer I attended, I spent the whole time sad that my experience would end and I missed out on enjoying myself because I was already sad about leaving. The next summer I determined that I would not make myself miserable and chose to live in the moment and enjoy everything to the fullest, which made for a much more enjoyable time. How I loved the friendships and letters that continued for years afterwards.

So now, as a parent and camp nurse with seven summers under her belt, why do I still value the camp experience? I’ll share just a few of my many reasons.

First, the level playing field. This is definitely my number one—especially for the teenage kids.  We have been blessed by friendships with kids from the big cities, kids from the country, kids from other countries, kids who have come from a pretty rough home life. Each of them have enriched our lives in profound ways. I love that a child from a single-parent home can become BFF’s with a kid whose parents own multiple homes. (I say that as a child from a single-parent home, barely squeaking out an existence).

Second, the benefit of no devices. Without devices, kids learn to interact with one another. In fact, after my eldest had gotten a phone, and then attended camp, he remarked on how odd it was when the conversation would lag and no one had a phone to turn to. They all had to re-learn the art of conversation. He remarked that it was so refreshing to learn to talk about life!

Another related benefit is that at camp, every child starts with a brand new, unmarred, clean slate. That is a gift. It seems that kids these days can’t escape their past mistakes, especially if they’re on social media. But without devices, no one has the ability to check and see how ‘cool they are or aren’t’ they can just ‘be,’ or perhaps find the freedom to ‘become’—to be reset by grace, a fresh slate, and a couple weeks of summer.

Finally, this past year has been very hard on certain teens. I have had more parents ask me to pray for them and their kids during this pandemic than at any other time in my life. It has really been hard, and it has strained relationships. With no ability to interact outside a screen, they have felt the loneliness acutely. Camp offers personal interaction and friendships that heal the pain of loneliness and often last longer than one summer.

What a refreshing time a session at camp can be for these kids who really are still trying to figure out life and the values they have. How precious are the counselors who disciple and patiently pour time, attention, and prayer into them. What a glorious gift camp can be. I know my kids are looking forward to it. And even though I’m no longer the little girl I once was, it’s still the highlight of my summer too.

Editor’s Note: Camp can be the highlight of your summer! We still have room for campers at Brookwoods, Deer Run, and Moose River Outpost! Check out the availability here. Register online today! Please call our Main Office (603-875-3600) if you have questions, we’re more than happy to help

Madeline and her husband Jeff live in Annadale, VA and they had three campers at Brookwoods and Deer Run this summer, Benjamin, Christopher and Karisa. Before coming to Brookwoods and Deer Run she served on the medical team at Camp Sandy Cove in WV. Her favorite thing to do at camp is fellowshipping with the larger body of Christ and being reminded of God’s involvement in different parts of the world, as well as enjoying the super amazing slushies in the Camp Store. Visit her blog at TurnAside.org (it’s a work in progress :-).

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