Think about the most important thing you’ve ever learned. Seriously, stop for a moment, and think about something you’ve learned that has truly affected your life.
Maybe it was an understanding of how the world works, or an insight into the thoughts and feelings of other people, or maybe it was a discovery about yourself - the first time you did something you never thought you could do. Whatever your particular lesson might be, I can almost guarantee one thing - you didn’t learn it in school. You learned it in a social setting, or out in nature, maybe on a road trip or some fun adventure, because the most important lessons are the ones we learn while simply living our lives. Life lessons, as they are often called, are the lessons that most deeply help us grow.
“Growing is more than just getting bigger”
If we agree that we don’t learn our biggest lessons in school, how can we ensure that our kids get the chance to learn those same lessons? We must challenge them. We must get them to try things they’ve never done before, make a friend of someone they’ve never met, get outside their comfort zone and see how amazing and cool the world around them can really be! We must give them the chance to fail, to fall down and scrape their knees, and must be willing to let them discover things for themselves. The greatest lessons in life are learned, but they are not often taught, they are thrown at us and how much we grow from it is up to us.
One of the great things about summer camp is that it so often gives kids these exact opportunities. Ever thrown a tomahawk? Try it at camp! Nervous about being in a boat? Hit the water with a cool instructor, in a completely safe environment where you still get to really experience something new! Camp has always been a place to grow, but the importance of that place has never been greater.
"We make growing the purpose of camp instead of a side benefit”
For over a hundred years kids have been going to camp and they’ve been learning and growing with each and every summer. However, kids are a little different now than they were a hundred, fifty, or even twenty years ago. Our modern internet driven society makes it easier than ever before to avoid things that are challenging or new. Don’t know the answer to a question - google it? None of your friends can hang out - don’t play with the new neighbor kid, just find your friends online and chat with them. We, as adults who want awesome kids around, need to help show them what you can discover when you do something you didn’t think you wanted to try.
At Camp Ocean Pines we take this challenge seriously! We don’t want kids to come to our camp and only do the fun stuff, we want them to spend their whole drive home endlessly talking up the finer points of glass melting, or how much fun it was to go to the top of the giant swing. We train our counselors to be more than activity leaders, we teach them child psychology and development, and we show them how to help encourage, support and accept every kid who comes to camp. We believe that camp is so much more than just a vacation. Camp is a place to grow - camp is a place for every child to take some first steps towards who they want to be.
Camp Ocean Pines