Memories of Summer Camp


Our newest Outdoor Afro contributor, Justice Fergie, recalls fondly her years at camp, and what it means for her own children today.



My Girl Guide troop at sleepaway camp.
That’s me in the bottom left-hand corner.

Don’t laugh!

Ok, go ahead.

Remember sleep-away camp? Some of my best childhood memories are from spending summers making friends, singing campfire songs, and making friendship bracelets at sleep-away camp.  My Girl Guide troop (the Canadian version of Girl Scouts), was very active and one summer we had the opportunity to camp at a site owned by a Hungarian couple out in the wilderness.  My mom dropped me at the bus we were taking to the campsite and I trotted off, bedroll, homemade poncho and sit-upon in hand.  I had an amazing, enriching experience that I will never forget.  Yes, we had to use lats and got bitten to the hilt by mosquitoes, but I wouldn’t trade that experience for the world.  To this day – and I’m not exaggerating – I haven’t tasted a better Hungarian Goulash than the one that our campsite hosts made for us over an open fire at camp.  Or maybe it just seems that way because I was having a blast.

Another summer, I accompanied my sister to a sleep-away camp for the Deaf.  It was easily one of the best times of my life.  We went whale-watching, dissected a nurse shark, made popcorn and berry
necklaces with Native Americans, and – of course – had the requisite boy-girl end-of-summer dance.  I remain in contact with many of those fellow campers and cherish the memories we made.

Fast forward to 2011.  I’m a mom of 3 children and I’m just itching for them to be able to go away to camp like I did. But here’s the thing – it’s a different time now than when my sister and I went away to camp.  The world is almost indisputably a scarier place.  I don’t know if I would feel comfortable sending my kids off for an extended period of time nowadays. And another thing – my husband never went to an overnight camp.  In fact, he was barely allowed to go to sleepovers with kids that weren’t family.  So naturally he is 100% against the idea of a sleep-away camp for our brood.

I’m saddened at the thought that my kiddos won’t be able to experience camp the way I did.  Sure, they can do to day camps, and maybe a heavily chaperoned 1-night overnight camp here and there.  But will they be able to run into a cabin and compete with friends to choose a bunk that will be theirs for the next 3 weeks?  Will they be able to lie under the stars in a sleeping bag wearing matching friendship bracelets with a newfound friend?  Will they write me postcards telling me how much kayaking sucks? Or will their knowledge of the freedom and free-spiritedness of sleep-away camp have to rest with me?

Justice Fergie is a wife, lawyer and supermom to 3 beautiful children.  She’s also a foodie, social media junkie and co-founder of Be Blogalicious.  Visit her at JusticeFergie.com or follow @JusticeFergie on Twitter.


2 Thoughts on “Memories of Summer Camp”

  • I think it’s awesome that you had a great camp experience and hope that you and your husband consider how the benefits of a good overnight camp might possibly outweigh your fears.
    As a travel camp owner, I speak to LOTS of parents that have issues with fear and mis-trust as it relates to sending their children to camp. I even have an open letter to parents on my site that addresses these challenges(see http://obgadventurecamps.com/aboutobgac/aspecialnotetoparents.html).
    My job, as I see it, isn’t to talk them in to something that they are afraid to do, but to continue to effectively and safely lead by example and (hopefully) ultimately earn trust. At the end of the day, I think that’s the best that I can do. =)

    Camp rocks.

    “I have the conviction that a few weeks in a well-organized summer camp may be of more value educationally than a whole year of formal school work.” -Charles Eliot, former president of Harvard University, in his 1922 treatise on education

  • I camped, therefore my kids camp. In fact they are nagging me now about registering for this summer (I had better get on it!)

    I definitely agree with OBG. I think that kids need the opportunity to explore, learn independence, and take some risks, as a way to prepare them for the journey ahead into adulthood.

    That said, I also agree that you have to be very discerning in your selection as one camp won’t fit all folks. Particularly if you are a family of color, it is important to sure there is not only diversity of campers and staff, but also cultural competency.

    I sure hope your kids get to go camping!

    Rue

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