One of the FUNdamental goals for parents who choose to send their camper to camp is the idea of instilling a sense of confidence, independence, and individualism in their growing child, all under the guise of fun and adventure. Some kids come by it honestly but for some the natural barriers of childhood inhibit their ability to really grow into who they are meant to be in a natural, confident way. And while all kids truly thrive from their camp experience, these kids are the ones that touch the very soul of camp.
At Camp Blue Ridge, we pride ourselves on our ability to include everyone by paying attention to detail, keeping our numbers intimate and ensuring that every camper and staff that comes through our gates is seen, heard, and valued. Frankly, it’s what makes “us”, us. The process of introducing our new campers to camp starts early and intentionally, our leadership team works with inquiring families to personalize the process and meet each family where they are in their camp selection journey. Our perspective families have a direct line to the owner’s/directors of camp, and we don’t take that lightly, making ourselves available to inquiries, questions and concerns no matter how big or small. Beyond that, we work tirelessly to personalize the process for each family via zoom calls, open houses and camp get togethers throughout the year.
So how do we put the “person” in personal? We make every effort to engage our campers and their families throughout the process. We “show up” for them via zoom calls, answering their questions and doing our very best to ensure that each camper we meet becomes familiar with the leadership team that will be there to greet them, support them and ensure they feel comfortable from the moment they arrive at camp. In addition, we work hard to connect our campers prior to the summer camp season with other campers in their area so that they can ask questions, learn about camp through the eyes of an experienced camper or chat with someone in a similar situation. And finally, one of the most meaningful programs we have at camp is our Big/Little program. Here, we match new campers with our most experienced older campers who mentor the kids throughout their first summer. This allows our older campers to demonstrate leadership and compassion while helping our new campers get acclimated to camp via tours, special activities, and intentional time together. By doing this, we strengthen the fabric of our community at all levels and create meaningful experiences for our campers throughout their camp journey.
Many parents battle with the question of when attending camp is right, at what age is my child ready to take the leap? There really is no perfect answer, every child is different and that’s what we love. As mentioned, kids grow and mature in their own special way, and we work hard to meet them where they are and continue to foster that growth in a way that makes them comfortable. Camp is more than just fun and games, it’s an opportunity for our kids to redefine who they are, on their terms, away from the pressure and boxes that they sometimes get placed in at home. During their time at camp, our kids learn to interact with campers and staff from around the globe, troubleshoot problems and differences with their bunkmates in a positive and cooperative manner, challenge themselves to try something new, show empathy and respect to fellow campers and manage their daily schedule independently. These kids become a part of a community larger than themselves and in just a few short weeks, become a part of a camp family that will forever change them for the better, no matter the age in which they begin their camp journey.
But don’t just take our word for it, the American Camp Association article entitled “Benefits of Camp, The Camp Experience Enriches Lives and Changes the World” states “Camp provides children with a community of caring adults who nurture experiential education that results in self-respect and appreciation for human value. All of the outcomes — self-identity, self-worth, self-esteem, leadership, and self-respect — build personal competencies. These personal competencies are reflected in the four "C's" of the camp community: compassion, contribution, commitment, and character! For years, campers' parents have reported that when their children return home from camp they are more caring, understand the importance of giving, are more equipped to stand up for what they know is right, and are willing to be more responsible. These are the qualities that will help build a successful nation and a civil society.”
To further support our families new to the camp experience or navigating the experience as a parent with their own child for the first time, we developed a “First Time Camper Guide” to help prepare our campers and their families. This guide outlines tips, tricks, and ways to help prepare your camper, (and yourself) for the adventure ahead. To learn more about how you can receive your guide today, please check out our website at www.blueridgecamp.com.
As you navigate your camp journey as a family and work to give your child a gift that will last a lifetime, rest assured that no matter where your child lands, they will come home feeling stronger and more confident all thanks to you. “I would trade any day in the real world for a minute at camp”, author unknown.