Overnight Camp From a Camper's Perspective
A Triangle youth shares his experiences
Overnight camp provides life-changing experiences for youth. In my work with camps over the past twenty-three years as a Camp Counselor, Camp Director, and now Camping Specialist, I have witnessed first-hand the positive impacts camp has on campers. I could cite research and studies through the American Camp Association on the impacts of overnight camp, but I believe hearing about the camp experience from a camper’s perspective tells a more compelling story.
This past summer, I was able to experience camp from a new perspective: as a camper parent. My wife and I sent our 8-year-old son, Jacob, off to overnight camp two and a half hours away from home for five days. Jacob had such a life-changing experience at camp that he even wrote a paper about it for his third grade class at school this year. He titled it, “All By Myself at Camp,” and the focus of his paper was about his experience at overnight camp away from home. The following is a snippet of Jacob’s school paper about his experience at overnight camp.
When I was walking to go to another subject, at the corner of my eye I see something, I exploded! It was archery, my favorite subject in camp! “Yay,” I said very quietly so I did not let the people lose their focus. WHACK! As the pointy, blue arrow hits the target that has holes in it.
Soon we were all going to go kayaking! It took us about half a mile to get there because the gym is far away from kayaking. Soon we were at the ocean! Then we had to listen to instructions. Then we had to pick a partner. Soon we were in the miniature boat. The kayak was rocky and smooth, but not as smooth as the ocean.
To add to his perspective, the following are some questions I asked Jacob about his experience.
Me: What did you like best about overnight camp?
Jacob: I liked best Gaga ball. Because you’re dodging balls and you’re hitting them really hard. It is very challenging when you have a ton of kids in the game. But is really fun when you have a ton of kids. I also liked archery. Because it keeps you focused and calm. It kinda made me forget about my parents. Also, I haven’t shot an arrow in a long time.
Me: What was your biggest challenge at overnight camp?
Jacob: I think my biggest challenge was to be more responsible. I am responsible but things I had to do is make sure I have everything. And I had to get my own food. I was kinda alone but I knew I would have a great time. So I acted more responsible and soon, I’m not alone. And I got more responsible because I was being more responsible. Now I am a little more responsible. Sometimes my parents do things for me. Other times I do it myself. So when I am alone or I have to do things myself, I reflect on what I did to be responsible at camp and I do what I did.
Me: What was your most memorable experience at overnight camp?
Jacob: Well, I think my most memorable experience was how fun it was. It was like 2 fun trips combined together. I did things like crabbing, archery, kayaking, S’mores, swimming, talent shows, rock climbing, hiking, learning about animals and where they live, gym and, you might not know this one, Gaga ball.
Well, there you have it, overnight camp from a camper’s perspective. I strongly encourage every parent to allow their child the opportunity to experience overnight camp at least once. If you do, I believe it it will be life changing for your child.
Dave Herpy is a father of four, a camp and youth development professional, and freelance writer here in the Triangle. His son Jacob is a third-grade student who enjoys art, golf and now, camp.