I love Scout Camp. I’ve been a “camp guy” for the better part of 30 years, in just about every capacity. I’ve been a camper. A Scout leader. A scout camp commissioner, an administrator, instructor, inspector, and a lifeguard… and it’s been an absolute blast. But probably the best thing about going to camp is watching people grow over time. You get to watch the shy 8-year-old Cub Scout develop into the 18-year-old staffer who has no qualms about leading a song and making a fool of himself for the delight of 300 people. Here are my top 10 reasons you should send your kid to Scout Camp this summer.
Read the Top 10 Reasons to send your kid to Scout Camp by Mike Cooney.
Mike Cooney spent ten years as an executive with the Boy Scouts of America, serving first in northern Maine at the Katahdin Area Council, and later with the Connecticut Rivers Council. In those capacities, he recruited thousands of new youth into the program. He has raised millions of dollars and set multiple fundraising records. He’s most proud of assisting thousands of volunteers in providing a great program for kids. With the help of some great volunteers, he worked to found a new Cub Scout day camp in Dover-Foxcroft, Maine.
10. So they’ll be homesick and get over it.
At some point in our lives, we all experience homesickness. Kids who go to camp tend to experience it earlier, and tend to have it happen around supportive people that they know. They also tend to do so much closer to home.
The alternative for a lot of kids is being homesick when the get to college. My first year at Scout Camp, at June Norcross Webster Scout Reservation in Ashford, Conn. I got extremely homesick on Tuesday. There were definitely more tears than I’d care to admit. But my leaders convinced me to stick it out. They distracted me.
By Friday, I didn’t want to go home, because I was having so much fun. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve seen this exact same process at other camps.
9. They’ll Gain Confidence
Going to camp can be a daunting thing for kids. They’ll get nervous, and build it up to be a big thing in their heads. They’ll convince themselves that they’re going to die in their tents because the Daddy Long Legs spider is going to eat them. You laugh, I’ve had this conversation. They’ll tell themselves they can’t pass their swimming test.
And you know what, an adult Scouter or older scout they trust will tell them that they can. And they will.
This confidence won’t evaporate once they come home from camp – but they’ll have these little victories to look back on when they go back to school. They’ll have it with them for the rest of their lives.
8. It’s Gets Them Moving
Summer camps tend to be big, and you have to do a lot of walking. This is more of a feature than a bug. Walking the trails at camp gives kids some time to think. They might also get to go swimming, rock climbing, canoeing, running, or play sports.
All of which are healthier for them than simulating any of those activities on a PlayStation.
7. They’ll Try New Things
Camp is the Super Bowl of Scouting. It’s where the kids get to do all the things that they thought they were going to do when they signed up.
Maybe it’ll be archery, canoeing or basketry. But they’ll be exposed to all sorts of things that they’d likely never experience at home or in school. They could go rock climbing. They’ll sing songs, and may even wind up doing a skit in front of hundreds of people.
6. Gain Self-Reliance
As it turns out, the best way to learn how to do things for yourself is… to do things for yourself. They’ll have to take care of their own stuff. Mom won’t be there to clean their room for them.
They’ll learn that staying up until midnight talking to your friends is fun on Sunday night, but that you’ll pay for it on Monday morning. They’ll also have the experience of truly managing their own money for the first time. When they get to camp with a certain amount of money, they’ll have to figure out how to spend it best over the course of a week.
And this rolls into the next point, scout camp is a…
5. It’s A Safe Place to Fail
Accidents happen at camp. They might not complete a merit badge. A towel could go missing. They might get a blister. They might spend all of their money on candy on the first day, and have nothing left for the rest of the week – and they won’t actually starve.
In life, things go wrong.
And you’ll still be okay. There will be people there to help and to support you.
You’ll learn that the little setbacks in life aren’t the end of the world.
4. They Learn Skills
They’ll learn to look out for others. Delegating important tasks to others is a difficult concept for adults. But it’s vital to accomplishing any big, worthwhile goal. This is a skill that the Scouts will learn at camp. They’ll learn how to manage others – how to take a list of things to do and to match them up with the right people for the job.
But they’ll learn any number of things – from construction skills to life-saving, to basketry, to canoeing, or archery. Above all, for many of them, it will be the first time they’ll actually get to pick what they want to learn about. They’ll actually set their own schedules. They may be exposed to a hobby or career they’ll enjoy for the rest of their lives
3. Scout Camp Is the Friendliest Place on Earth
Sorry Disney, but Scout camp is the friendliest place you can send your kid this summer. Everybody tends to be in a great mood. The kids are doing what they’ve been looking forward to all year long. The staff has the best job of their lives. And the volunteers are on vacation. It’s the perfect storm for a good time. Sure, it may rain sometimes, but still, a bad day at camp is better than a good day at the office, or school, or pretty much anywhere.
2. See the World Differently
In my time at camp, I’ve gotten to meet people from all over the world. From every continent. It’s one thing to read about people from the other side of the planet in a book or see them on television, but you get a different perspective when you actually get to spend time with them as friends.
But they’ll also get to see their own area in a different way. When there are no walls, you tend to be open to new ideas. You can sit quietly, and listen to the birds, the trees, and the wind… and you have some time to think. Time to figure things out.
1. Make Friends That Last a Lifetime
They’ll run into people from all over, and learn to find similarities. They’ll find themselves singing songs, doing skits, and telling jokes with people they might not otherwise ever come into contact with. When you camp with people, you find out your similarities and differences in a hurry. Camp is one of the great places to have the shared experiences that build strong friendships.
And oh yeah, camp is fun.