What Makes Camp So Special?
By Green River Preserve
Camp is an excellent place for social learning. It allows kids to run around and enjoy an environment that is mostly made up of other kids. Of course there are adults acting as supervisors, but the opportunity for social interaction within age groups is much greater at camp than it is almost anywhere else, and that might be what makes camp so special.
The Green River Preserve is no exception, and despite its 3:1 camper to staff ratio, the children enjoy more than ample time to interact with each other. The evening programs and activities that camp life is centered around are the gears that set that machine into motion. By now, those of you who keep up the blog probably know the basic structure of each day, beginning with mentor hikes, going through afternoon activities, and ending with Evening Programs. During Mentor hikes, kids hike in groups of about ten, with two staff members. These kids are more or less stuck in these groups for the duration of camp, and, almost always, Mentor hike groups are where kids find their best friends for the camp session.
Activities are also an excellent arena in which campers may further exercise their social prowess. Many of the activities, such as Field Games, Theatre, Music, and Outdoor Living Skills require teamwork and communication. Even those activities one might not expect to be cooperation intensive, such as Creative Writing and Fencing, can end up requiring campers to work together with one another (although this is more contingent on the staff running the activity).
The greatest time a camper has to really exercise his or her social skills is during Free Time, a time for what we call “unstructured play”. During Free Time, campers are required to stay in the Front Field, but so long as they stay there, they may do almost anything they want. The swim area is open during this time, as well as Fly Fishing and Music. Oftentimes, kids take this time to chill and hang out in small groups, talking about their day with their friends.
Evening Programs are usually the climax of the day, allowing campers to release any remaining energy and perhaps showcase various talents for their peers. Tonight’s Evening Program, the Variety Show, presents the entire camp population with an opportunity to perform in front of their friends and peers. While counselors do, on occasion, chime in and do one or two performances, the bulk of the program is done by campers, and watching them support their friends is truly a joy.
In short, camp is opportunity, and the longer the session the greater the potential yield. Watching the growth that happens, even during the one week session, is a magical experience. It’s probably why I keep coming back.