Editor’s Note: First of two posts all about reading at camp and reading at home. This one is on our new Lending Library, and Friday’s post will be on parent reading resources.
One of the great joys of camp is that, while there is an intense amount of learning going on for the campers, it happens in a way that is both more all-encompassing and, ironically, more diffuse. It’s a seamless, hands-on experience that can bypass some of the barriers to learning that children sometimes face.
Whether it’s learning to master a canoe stroke, hit a high note in the Alleghany Singers, or reliably hit a target in Archery, immersion in the activity makes learning easy.
And more and more, from the American Camp Association to partnerships with local schools and even federal recognition of the value of camps, people are seeing that camp is a vital, even essential part of a well-rounded, year-round education.
Which also means there’s an important place for reading.
You may be surprised to learn that a lot of reading happens at camp. But fortunately it’s not tied to the demands of SOLs or testing, and all the stress that goes along with them.
In fact, reading “at” camp ideally begins before camp has even started. Campers are expected to read and be familiar with the Camper Code of Conduct and Camp No Gossip Policy, which hopefully becomes fodder for discussion when mom and dad have also read the Parent Handbook. All of these will have been sent to you upon registration (or during the camp pre-season).
We also send new campers the camp Songbook, giving them an opportunity to become familiar with — or review — our camp song lyrics. You can have even more fun by listening to songs on our Song Player and beginning to sing along!
The writing is on the wall
Once at camp, opportunities for reading abound. First, campers sometimes bring a few of their own books or journals to read and/or write in during Rest Hour and other free times.
But there are other ways reading works its way into the program. Campers in Wild World learn to read maps, and treasure-seekers in a scavenger hunt activity might be reading clues and marking their findings.
Campers also read Drama scripts (and sometimes write skits or news items), read instructions in Arts & Crafts, observe musical notes and read lyrics for songs, rules posted at activities, item names and prices at the camp store, evening activity calendars, even the awards boards in the Play Hall!
Even at meal times there’s an opportunity to read while filing in to the Dining Hall. There’s a white board in both the Junior and Senior Dining Hall that lists foods containing allergens, and the alternatives for the day. It lists gluten, dairy, nuts, etc. and the food(s) for that meal that contain those, and then the alternatives, including vegetarian alternatives. Campers and staff with food allergies always read that board.
So seamless reading is all around at camp!
Turning the page
And now we’re adding to this our own Lending Library to give campers more leisure-time reading opportunities, including for campers who may not have brought a book or books to camp!
We’re so excited about this simple little addition for so many reasons. First, obviously, for just more of the joys of reading! Sharing stories and using her imagination to picture characters and places is always such a rich way to nurture creativity and understanding in a child.
We also know that reading during the summer keeps a child’s literacy and mastery nimble for when she returns to school. And since reading and writing are connected, we also encourage campers to write letters home (remember to pack that stationery and make out some self-addressed and stamped envelopes), which also helps for back-to-school.
Rest Hour can be such a wonderful time for a camper to retreat from the hum and buzz of camp go within, making it the perfect time for a book! Overall, we just think more reading when appropriate or as a child likes is a nice addition to camp.
Our Lending Library will be simple. It will be located in a corner of the Play Hall and campers can go in and “check out” a book simply on the honor system observed at camp. She will return it when she’s finished. In the meantime, she’ll enjoy it!
On the shelf
A close family friend Carol Rasco, the CEO of Reading is Fundamental, helped to launch this program for us through inspirational phone calls that got me excited for the idea. She told about her own experience at Girl Scout Camp growing up, and how much reading they did, just like what I mentioned above. We also discussed that connection to writing mentioned above, and how it’s important to encourage writing as well as reading.
Carol also generously sent us a large box of books to get our lending library started — thank you Carol!
We want to encourage all campers, all ages, to bring books to share in our Lending Library, so if you have some books around that you’re willing to donate, we’d love to give them a home.
If you’re like me, you also probably love to learn of new and different books and parent resources to help with parenting. That’s why in part two of this series later this week, I’ll be sharing some great ideas for parents to help you in your journey and to encourage a family-wide love of reading of all kinds. So tune in this Friday for part two!
In the meantime, happy reading!
— Elizabeth Dawson Shreckhise, Assistant Director, Camp Alleghany for Girls