Camp is so good for the soul!

1992 tent photo
Me (far left) and my tent mates in our circa 1992 tent photo when I was 12. Photo: Camp Alleghany Archives.

As I count down these final days until I leave for camp, and even as I know I’ve got TONS of work yet to do before the barge crosses with the first batch of counselors and more work to do before it crosses with the first batch of Mini Campers, still, I am so excited to go to my home away from home.

One thing that got me to thinking about camp from a perspective beyond my role there as a director was a blog piece a friend sent to me last week titled, How Summer Camp Made Me a Better Person. 

Nailed it!

Reading this piece I was struck with how spot-on author Zoe Hammonds was in her recollections and observations. She certainly is correct that anyone who has ever gone to a sleepaway camp will resonate with her take on the experience.

Hammonds recounts camp both bittersweetly and with unstinting fondness. Her homesick summers felt inconsolable at the time yet she also recognizes that they built in her resilience, self-reliance, and  the willingness to try new things.

Camp, she says, gave her a chance to be more than who she was during the school year, another version of herself, always growing and becoming truer to who she could be:

I attended my summer camp for over a decade, and during each summer I would become mentally, physically, and spiritually stronger. Whether it was hiking up those incredibly large hills, learning skills for the first time, or reflecting on my personal values, camp gave me time to develop and mature into the person I am today.

When the going gets tough

Though recognizing that camp does present some challenges — new place, new people, tight quarters, new ways of doing things, being on your own — she also touches on that thing all campers usually end up feeling: that we treasure camp not in spite of those challenges, but because of them!

Like many of us, Hammonds found in camp a home, a special place all her own and yet one she shared with so many new friends who became lifelong friends. As she puts it,

This is a place we could call our own, where we knew we would always be able to find our friends, family, and even ourselves.

I know you join me in feeling that pull and that unrivaled joy that, to a camper, alum or current, only camp can bring. I’m sure our newest campers will be feeling that soon!

I can’t wait to see you all at camp in 12 days!

— Elizabeth Dawson Shreckhise, Assistant Director, Camp Alleghany for Girls