I remember the first time I went to camp. In San Diego, where I lived with my dad for a year, all sixth-graders went to 6th Grade Camp. To be honest, I don’t really remember any talk about it leading up to the date, but I remember standing among a bunch of other kids next to the bus with my sleeping bag in hand.
The bunkhouse was big – bigger than my house – and it was full of giddy girls. We entered through the main doors into a large foyer, where teams of twelve-year-olds pealed into one of the corner sleeper rooms at each corner. Being led by the elbow by my friend Cherri, we tore across the well-worn wooden floor, past the towering stone fireplace to what would be our home for the next four nights. The bunk beds were made of 2×4’s, and the mattress looked like what we used in gym class for tumbling. Cherri took the top bunk, which was fine with me because there was no ladder and I was sure climbing on the end of the unit would end in at least one sliver in the fleshy part of my sweaty palms. Until that week, I’d only spent the night at one friend’s house, and it kinda freaked me out. How would I ever make it? My step-mom recommended I leave Ted (my stuffed bear) at home, which standing in the room with a half dozen bunk beds, I decided was a good idea.
We did all sorts of stuff that week, including hiking. Our leader taught us about spit-bugs and how to find them, then we identified animal tracks and scat. In the days following, I found an arrowhead. He let us use an increment borer to tell the age of a tree and taught us that dead trees, fallen leaves, and branches serve an important purpose. At lunch, we shouted silly chants across the dining hall, and at night I sang even more around a campfire with my friends.
And I laughed.
And I fell in love with nature.
Three years ago Adam and our family moved here to the Alamo Area Council from the Seattle area when he became the Ranger at the Mays Family Scout Ranch. For me, I can tell you it was my camp experience that inspired my want to move. Since then, Scouting has become a way of life for us. My son is a proud Bear Scout now, and my adventurous daughter will be ready to crossover this year. We attend Day Camp together each year, and I’m pretty sure I love camp just as much as they do. It’s not about the chants, crafts, shooting sports, and swimming for me, though. As an adult, I experience what my sixth-grade camp counselors must have all those years ago.
For the kids, it’s a blast…but it’s also life-changing. Campers grow in their confidence when they try something for the first time and nail it. They support each other when they struggle. They find their place – and their joy. Over the next few days, I’ll be sharing some of their stories – the triumph and success of the kids I walked with last week, the bonding, and the freedom for them to explore who they are when the limitations of walls and screens were removed.
I hope you’ll join me because these are great stories.
Do you have a story to share about your Scout’s experience at Camp? Tell Jenn, the Council Publicist at Jennifer.Arntson@AlamoAreaBSA.org.