Returning to the idea that camp is “educational” because it provides a life filled with new experiences, I’m again left wondering how it’s educational. I’ve already considered how Rockbrook’s emphasis on community and the quality of our relationships with each other, namely them being guided by strong values of kindness, caring and generosity, creates a context for fostering creativity, compassion, and courage. Camp uniquely empowers children to engage new experiences, to explore and marvel at the wonders of nature, and to build connections with the people around them. We know that camp is a place to grow in all of these important ways.
There seems to be more we might say about this. What about the campers? You might not guess it, but they too understand camp as place where they learn things. To understand this, Naomi, one of our assistant Directors, and I wandered around after dinner and asked a few campers what they thought. We asked, “What is something you learned while at camp?” And, “Is there something you learned at camp that you’ll use back at home or later in life?” We asked girls from all the age groups and were pleased to hear what they said about what they “take away” from camp. It’s memories of the fun and a huge set of friends, but also even more.
Here are some of their answers. I think you’ll be impressed.
1. “New skills.” Certainly there are many skill-based activities campers try at camp and then find themselves keeping as an interest or hobby. It might be sewing, horseback riding, painting, archery, tying knots, etc. “I learned how to paddle a canoe!” one camper said proudly.
2. “The importance of kindness.” Rockbrook girls know this instinctively. They expect kindess from others just as they aim to be nice themselves. One girl put it like this— “Being unkind just isn’t worth it.”
3. “How to share my space.” This makes great sense when the girls are living so closely in 100-year old cabins. “You have to respect other people’s space.”
4. “Teamwork.” Working together as a cabin group each day for cabin chores, clearing the dining hall table, and evening program skits are good examples of teamwork at camp.
5. “It’s OK to be myself.” This is a testament to the supportive and accepting character of the Rockbrook community, a place where girls can escape the kind of social criticism and judgment they often endure at school, freeing them to be more genuine. The girls feel the difference.
6. “To try new things.” This can take some courage, but here too the support of the camp community, and the enthusiasm for everything we do at camp, makes this a common experience.
7. “To live without my phone.” I love this response! I believe learning to moderate one’s phone use is a critical modern skill, and these campers already understand the importance of that. Good work!
8. “Flexibility.” At camp the girls learn to see the bright side when things don’t always go perfectly, to be open to compromise for the needs of others, and to adapt to the environment of camp despite it being so different from life at home.
9. “How to get along with others who are different than me.” Here too, joining the camp community means meeting diverse people, supporting and encouraging them, and receiving that same friendship in return.
10. “To be more grateful.” There is so much at Rockbrook to be thankful for. From what we get to do, to who we are doing it with, to the beautiful setting where we live— the whole experience inspires us to say “Thank you.” You hear it said out loud all the time.
Aren’t these amazing answers!? It impressed me to hear how these Rockbrook girls, amidst the fun of camp life, also appreciate the good it is doing. They seemed to understand that they were learning and growing in ways they would continue to value later in life. Yay! That’s exactly what we hope happens at Rockbrook. Camp should be meaningful like this.
Perhaps when you pick up your camper you’ll have a chance to ask her what she learned at camp. On the drive home, I think you’ll be impressed by how much she’s grown and understood while here.