Times are tough and in challenging economic times we as Overnight Summer Camp Owners and Directors reflect upon our good fortune in being able to do our part in giving your children a healthy positive summer camp experience. We thank you for making an investment in your children as we know there are many conflicting and wonderful opportunities out there for your child.
But now is also as good a time as ever to think about why you are sending your child to camp? Aside from all the incredible lifetime friends your child will make, the fun times, the memories, the skills learned at activities, the truth is that summer camp is a training ground for the positive values that you want your kids to adopt as they mature into secure confident and caring adults. These values come out of the power of connections where children of all ages want to be part of something bigger and more important than themselves; it comes out of the power of we instead of I.
The power of summer camp is the “social capital” that is lacking in today’s technologically driven society. Dinner parties, clubs, family picnics, are all down 40%. Happiness begins with a feeling of connection and having so many positive role models and new friends waiting to be made creates that all-important sense of connection. If there ever was a time for our next generation to learn about the power of direct (not computer driven) social connections, it is now. If you ask any Manitou camper when we say they are part of the” Manitou family” they know we mean it, it’s not a corny cliché- it’s real and meaningful!
Overnight Summer camp works because children are able to unlock and enrich their passions for group living; with 195 mentors who believe in similar values and act as role models at every turn. And guess what, kids are actually spending at least half of their day outside! The average child has less than thirty minutes of outdoor play a week. Children today have NDD, nature deficit disorder.
At summer camp kids are exposed to the outdoors and are also appreciating the environment around them. In fact this summer we have a new head staff position; lets call it “the environmental ombudsman”. He will be leading activities and specific cabin groups in activities that focus on the beauty of our environment around us. At summer camp kids will be making solar panels to operate lights, cultivating an organic garden, learning about camp conservation, exploring nature with an actual butterfly farm, and participating in green challenges throughout the summer. Combine that with good old fashioned cooking on an open fire, guitar and smores (or smorkles!) around the campfire, campouts and canoe trips, and other outdoor activities (even in the rain!) and you have an instant cure for NDD.
Overnight camp serves as the balancing point and source of stability in comparison to the school year. At Manitou we reinforce respect for being different, and teach children the value of friendship with people that are not exactly the same as them. We teach the value of taking positive risks and the value of reaching out to the camp community as well as to the local community, to make the world a better place.
Connections at overnight summer camp happen by campers and staff coming together to form a community through collective play, a tapestry of mutual respect, with trust and fulfillment along the way. Growing up at camp means teaching children to live in the moment, to communicate honestly and respectfully face to face and to appreciate their environment. The beauty of camp is that your kids don’t know that camp is a training ground for promoting their leadership, improving their confidence and most importantly inculcating their core values of respect , empathy, compassion and integrity.
Mark Diamond & Jeff Wilson, Camp Directors/Owners