Why Send Your Kids to Camp?


So it’s my turn to post something. It’s time for a little insight from a MOM’s point of view.

When our firstborn turned 5 I walked him down to a cabin for Splash camp. I dropped him off, I drilled the cabin leader with questions and I tried to walk away. The thing was I trusted the staff member completely. I knew my son was sooooo excited. I knew it was only 2 nights but it was still hard. He was my precious son and I liked to be there to walk him through things. But I forced myself. I wiped some tears from my face as I walked back up our hill and I prayed he would experience lots of new, exciting and stretching things.

So why did we do it? Why did we send our kids to summer camp?  There are some great articles on this topic (CCI-Canada; CCA).  These are informative, but I’m going to give you my own top 4 reasons. These are based on my experience as a camper, as a staff member and now as a mom.

#1. Summer Camp is a Fairly Controlled Way to Help your Child Develop Independence.
Summer camp has allowed my kids to develop new friendships and make their own decisions. My ultimate goal is to set my kids up so they navigate things on their own in a God honoring way. Their week at camp is supervised under the guidance of a positive role model, within the constraints of a “structured” environment and all without me looking over their shoulder. I love that they get this! And you know what?  Nate came home and he hadn’t showered but he did share his tuck with children who had none. These made for good conversations when we got home!


#2. Summer Camp is Fun.
Truthfully, this isn’t my greatest motivator because we can find other fun things to do BUT it is a great reason. I have the best memories as a child at camp. There were times of late nights, songs around the camp fire and life changing stories. The new skills (where else could I do ceramics, kayaking and archery all in the same week?), new friends, new games and great food made SABC a highlight of every summer.


#3. Summer Camp is a Real Job.
I served on summer staff for 6 summers in a row. My summers as a cabin leader and on leadership staff prepared me for the workforce better than any other job I’ve ever had. I learned how to work with others. I learned how to compromise and discuss honestly. I learned how to work hard (those were long, hard days) and I learned to rely on God. I learned how to pace myself and meet the standard of excellence that was set. These jobs required sacrifice, diligence and an extra dose of energy.
Parents, don’t ever say it’s not a real job. I’m in the “real job” now but my time at camp was definitely more stretching, rewarding and real than any other job.


#4. Finally, Summer Camp is Life Changing
We hear stories over and over again about how summer camp has changed lives. It’s what has kept Jon focused on the ministry for 25 years. Seeing God’s hand in the lives of our campers and staff is inspiring and allows us to see God up close. As I was sitting at a campfire in junior high camp I recognized God’s call on my life. I recognized His love for ME. And you know what the same thing happened with my son. He’s attended camp every summer since that weekend camp. A couple of years ago he came home exhausted but his heart had been touched in an immeasurable way. He talked about his chats with his cabin leader, the challenging new skills he learned and how he had recognized anew his need for Christ. Now THAT is why we send our kids to summer camp.

(Melissa Gartly, BA/BEd has been involved in summer camps for over 30 years.  She has three children ages 14, 12, and 8.)Melissa

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