Chloë started at camp when she was in seventh grade and was bit by the ‘Ghany bug instantly. Even that first year she begged in a letter home to stay for the second term. And she’s asked to do so every year since but for a variety of reasons it hasn’t worked out.
But beginning next fall, we’re going to homeschool her and we felt this year she could finally do it.
We made the decision to homeschool not out of dissatisfaction with her current school — she loves it and so have we — but really because we wanted to explore other ways of learning to augment the traditional form that she’s done since 5th grade.
Prior to that she went to a Waldorf school, a style of education with more emphasis on experiential learning, art, music, and theater, and a significant amount of writing, particularly in the higher grades. I really loved this method, and the school my girls went to in particular.
I plan to use a variety of methods during Chloë’s homeschooling year, pulling from traditional and non-traditional options. I’m really looking forward to spending more time with her (they grow up so fast, you know), to doing a bit more travel together, and to having flexible days where we can be open to unexpected educational opportunities.
From what I understand in talking to other homeschooling families, the idea that kids are socially isolated in homeschooling situations is simply a myth. If anything, they say, there are so many options that, if you’re not careful, you can spend all your time with other homeschoolers running hither and yon for all kinds of great options.
Well I want to keep that in balance, too. I want to spend more time with Chloë, but I want her to learn from others, too — local dance, art, and music classes, some tutors in areas where my husband and I are weak, and group “block” classes for a few weeks at a time.
Camp is essential
But one thing’s for sure and that’s that I see her camp experience as an extension of her learning from others. And that means that — cheers erupting here — Chloë finally gets to go to full term camp! In all honesty, it was one of the things that made her more amenable to homeschooling in the fall. After all, she’ll be 16 then, is very happy at her current school, has many friends and is a core member of their group, making homeschooling not the easiest “sell.” If something’s not broken, why fix it?
I explained why I want to homeschool, and that, instead of being fearful that this could disrupt or hamper her progress toward college, we believe it will enhance her options. And I also explained that we learn all our lives, emphasizing that if we limit our understanding of “learning” to what happens at a desk with a teacher lecturing from the front the room, we’ll miss so many opportunities to learn in life, and to actively see those other things as learning.
Camp was a good example, and one that speaks to her very dearly. She knows she’s learned to canoe and shoot rifle at camp, as well as improved her tennis game, to say nothing of crab soccer! She knows she’s learned to live comfortably with others in a tent, to pack with many contingencies in mind, to adjust to a world that not focused on electronics or conveniences, and that all of that has made her a more varied, adaptable, open minded person.
She also knows that Camp Alleghany is a culture of its own, and that there are unique elements of relationships, values, and cooperation that are consciously brought into the experience and deeply implanted into the hearts of the campers. This aspect of camp helps make it a richer place than just fun in the sun away from home. But speaking of that fun in the sun, we live in a small city, making her time at camp crucial for deep contact with nature and the elements.
So to my way of thinking if a little bit of this each year was already wonderful for her, more of it would be even better. And she couldn’t be more thrilled.
While she’s away I’ll be in a retreat mode of my own, pulling together her requirements, adopting some clear curriculum, signing her up for other classes, and readying the house to also serve as a flexible space for being together to learn all kinds of things.
I appreciate all that Camp Alleghany gives my daughter and by extension, our whole family. And now I see it as a partner in her education even more than before. That’s something that gives me confidence in choosing this new path.
–Lindsay Curren, Parent, Camp Alleghany for Girls