I don’t know about you, but a good number of my current communities are one step away from reality — they only exist online. I have a Facebook community, which includes a good number of friends-of-friends that I’ve never met in person. I visit a set list of blogs every day and have a great time interacting with the authors and the other readers. While our definition of community might be expanding, I don’t think any of us have lost sight of the importance of a good, old-fashioned in-person community though.
According to the American Camp Association, parents have identified the development of social skills/living in community (such as making new friends, getting along with others, becoming more responsible, and learning group-living skills) as one of the main reasons they send their children to camp. The owners, directors and staff at summer camp all understand the power of community and structure these skills into their programs in several areas.
1. Communal Living
I am an only child, and as such, I always had my own room when I was a child, so living in a camp cabin for the first time was a huge learning experience. For the first time, I had to be part of a community of people who were sharing space, delegating work and working, communally, to make things work. It didn’t take long for me to get into the routine of doing my part and see how even the most menial job — mine was taking out the trash – contributed to the health of the community.
Cabinmates must also learn how to navigate the waters of communal decisionmaking. They must work through the inevitable issues and conflicts that come up in cabin living — and they must learn to adapt and get along when things don’t go their way. They learn to live by the will of the majority, while at the same time respecting the needs of others who represent the minority. Again, according to the ACA, “small group living also provides the necessary intimacy for individuals to achieve a sense of belonging, explore a variety of group roles, cooperate and form relationships with others, and have input into the group’s activities.”
2. Eating and Singing Together
In the past few years there has been a large ad campaign promoting family dinners. Sitting around the dinner table sharing stories, concerns and the high and low points of your day with family members — or fellow campers — creates intimate bonds between all of the participants. Most camps have family-style meals and singing traditional camp songs together is often a ritual. Songs are always a founding piece of any culture and at camp, at the end of session when everyone knows the camp songs, they too become community bonds that live through the years.
3. Connections that Last
Although sometimes I am annoyed with how much of my life occurs online, there’s no arguing that modern social networking has helped nurture the lifelong friendships developed at camp. Now, instead of waiting days or week from a letter from a camp pen pal, you can send a text message, IM, or just nudge them on Facebook. Many camps have Facebook groups, some devoted exclusively to alumni from certain years, so the 50-somethings reminiscing about camp in the 70s can be a subgroup of a larger online camp community.
No matter how much time passes, the camp community lives on and on and on, especially through our Facebook page.
How did you experience community at camp? How have you sustained it since? We’d love to hear your stories in the comments below.
The clock is winding down. We had an UNBELIEVABLE week of College Days….last night was the Lobster and Steak Banquet, Reprise and Highlights Video…today is Packing Day and Rec Activities followed by the Closing Ceremony by the Lake…and then we get up early tomorrow as the buses pull out for the airports and we head home to Manhattan, Westchester and Long Island, New York…Fairfield County, Connecticut…New Jersey…Miami, Ft Lauderdale, Boca Raton and Palm Beach, Florida… Los Angeles and San Francisco, California… Chicago, Boston, Montreal, Philadelphia, Washington and Baltimore… It’s been an incredible summer. We miss you already and can’t wait to see everybody next year!!
College Days broke Saturday to an amazing concert of Julius C…no wait…that was the fake! Then we went to sleep…had some morning activities…and spent lunch wondering when it as going to come. Finally, we headed back to campus for mail and we all found Rally Towels in personalized envelopes , giant Lollipops and notes leading us to the Upper Fields where we found the guys from Julius C…Ice Cream Trucks…Dove Bars…Giant Beach Balls…and College Days 2010 begins!! What a time it’s been so far. Perfect weather…Climbing and Ping Pong…Hockey and Bucket Brigade…Chaos and Track…Swim and Balloon Stomp…Apache Relay and Chaos! Last night’s Tug was amazing. Tonight is Rope Burn and Fight Song. Lots to come and it’s anybody’s game. Lets go Alaska, Maine, Hawaii and FIU!!
College Days is just around the corner! You can feel the excitement in the air!! Any moment now, the College Days break will finally happen and we can’t wait to find out the teams and start to play!! Campers are chanting in the Dining Hall: “Ketchup, Mustard, Mayonnaise….We Want College Days!” There are tons of rumors and speculation around camp about the teams and the break. Last year’s University of Oregon Ducks took home the grand prize. Our Super Seniors are chomping at the bit for a chance to take the reins and lead a team for the first time. What will the teams be? Who will be the captains and spirit leaders? It’s still anyone’s guess!
Friday night started off another fantastic weekend here at Camp Laurel with the annual Jr/Sr Bec and Bago dinner party. Jem and Debbie dressed up as butlers and served hors d’oeuvres at Alliquippa to the campers followed by an authentic Italian meal in the Dining Hall. Saturday was a busy day with eight tournament and intercamp teams out during the day and Sports Night and socials in the evening. On Sunday, campers had a chance to display the projects they’ve been creating all summer in Ceramics, Crafts, Studio Art, Rocketry and Metalsmithing at our annual Art Show. It was amazing!! Sunday also saw the return of our Super Seniors who were gone for the past week rafting and traveling all around Maine and New Hampshire. They loved every minute of it. Monday was an incredible S-Day with lots of bumpertubing, Baxter Olympics, trips to the movies, and ice cream and mini golf. There’s still lots more to look forward to this summer and College Days is just around the corner. We can’t wait!
What an amazing week!! Our oldest campers are having a blast on the seven-day extended trip. Senior Bec and Bago returned last night from their Montreal journey – always a summer highlight. Last night was our annual bowling night for Senior Baxter and Sequoia who left for the evening to hit the lanes at Lucky Strike. Today was another busy day filled with Crack of Dawn Fishing, lots of intercamps and tournaments, and awesome evening programs. Today is an exciting S-Day with lots going on — Sequoia kicks it off with our annual Sequoia Olympics where our 5th and 6th grade boys compete in various Olympic-style events for gold, silver, and bronze medals. Acadia and Apache have a Gymnastics Show in the morning and hit the town to catch a movie in the afternoon. Should be a great one!
What an incredible weekend! Saturday was Visiting Day and families came from all over the country to visit. We were thrilled to show our parents, siblings, cousins and grandparents Camp Laurel as they had a chance to play tennis, swim in the lake, jump on our Aqua Glide Water Trampoline, make s’mores over a campfire and much, much more. Campers had a blast showing their parents all the incredible things they’ve accomplished over the summer and introducing their families to their counselors and friends. On Sunday, we jumped right back into regular programming from Crack of Dawn Fishing in the morning through Sports Night at night. Yesterday, we sent out extended trips for all of our oldest campers. Junior Bec and Bago are in Boston; Senior Bec and Bago left for a four day trip to Montreal, and Super Seniors are gone for seven days traveling all over the great state of Maine. Everyone arrived safely and we hear they’re already having a great time.
A perfect weather day in Maine. All trips and intercamps have returned as we begin the arrival of Parents Day tomorrow. It was an amazing week filled with fun and friends….trips and activities….shows and tournaments…laughter and fun. Tomorrow we eagerly anticipate greeting our parents and siblings from all over the country. Last night was our annual Group Sing in the Hockey Arena. It was incredible. Tonight we gather around the Council Fire and get an early nights sleep to welcome our visitors tomorrow. We can’t wait!
Time sure flies when you’re having fun! This weekend was awesome! Traditions Day kicked it off…we woke up to watch the beginning of Bec Swim, where the ladies of Bec broke the long-standing record for most laps swam in a day. They broke the record!! The guys of Bago completed their Bago Sprint around Echo Lake! Congratulations Bec and Bago. Then we saw Jem and Debbie and ten of the campers’ favorite staff members get wet and dirty during our annual Chaos. Each of the age groups then participated in their traditions, including the Baxter Car Wash for charity. We finished the day with our first Dance Show where the girls who have been working hard all summer long got to show off their moves and boy, did that work pay off. We then headed to the Council Fire for an all-camp campfire led by the Super Seniors. Saturday was a busy program day with intercamps and camping trips and Sunday was the Luau for Acadia and Apache where our youngest campers danced the hula and limbo-ed the evening away on the waterfront to some breezy Hawaiian tunes. Monday was Western Day and we brought in a professional square dance caller to teach some moves. We also had our annual Gold rush – definitely a camp favorite. Visiting Day is just around the corner but we have plenty to do before then including our first musical production of the summer…Once On This Island.