My childhood memories include long summer days playing outside, laying on my back to watch the clouds float by, and making wishes on shooting stars. A child of the eighties, my brothers and I were often sent outside in the morning and told to come home for lunch. I was the last generation to spend my younger years without the presence of cell phones, tablets, and the internet.
When I was twelve my family sent me to an overnight camp, it wasn’t the first camp I had been to, but it was the first that felt like home. I remember the long drive, the curiosity, and the nerves. I had a hard time standing still while my parents checked me in, and a counselor asked me if I had any questions. I stood a little taller when the staff shook my hand, and introduced themselves to me.
I can no longer pull out the details of that week at camp, but I remember the confidence I felt as I waved goodbye to my parents. I remember the feeling of belonging throughout that week. I remember making new friends, and connecting with staff members that inspired me. And, of course, the overwhelming sadness when I first experienced missing camp at the end of the summer.
I had no idea at the time how much that summer was going to change my life. I spent my school year missing camp, counting down the days, and planning for when I would finally get to head back to camp. It was the place where I felt most comfortable, the place where I felt the most me. When I was a senior in high school I knew I could apply to be on staff for the first time, my Dad drove me four hours one-way for my 20 minute interview, and I spent the next weeks replaying those twenty minutes in my head, anxiously awaiting any news of my future employment. I accepted the job the moment it was offered.
Since then I’ve worked at numerous summer camps and environmental education camps in New York and California, and even started my own Forest School in Wisconsin. I met my husband at a camp, and we got married at a different camp. We’re raising our children at camp. My heart is at camp, it has been since I was twelve.
I believe in the magic of camp, that it’s a safe place for kids to try new things, challenge themselves, and make new friends. I believe that it’s one of the only safe places left where kids are free to be their truest selves, without the distraction of technology, or the pressure of school. We invite kids to be kids, and as a parent of (current and future) campers, that is something that I have dedicated my life to preserving.
I now get to watch my own three children grow up at camp. They thrive in an environment where they are surrounded by positive role models, where they are pushed to try new things, and where their imagination, creativity, and problem solving skills are constantly engaged. As my oldest prepares for his first official summer as a camper, I now get to take on a role I’ve always looked forward to, that of a camper’s mom.
Thanks Mom & Dad, for sending me to camp and starting my lifetime of adventure. That week at camp so long ago, has brought me to Triple C Camp today, where I can continue to share my love of camp, child development, and the outdoors.