My parents drove up to our home here in Kerrville, Texas, from Houston, a mere three hours or so away via Interstate 10. During the weekend visit the talk turned to camp, because I'm Camp Business magazine's editor, have children who will be of camp age in a few years and attended camp myself for five years many years ago.
My mom likes to embarrass me with the tale of my first year at camp, complete with Yours Truly bolting from the bus right before it pulled out for its long journey.
That first time away from home, especially for a four-week term, was fairly traumatic. I'll continue to work this line of defense until she forgets it happened or forgets that I was the only kid who made a break for it that day…
Turns out I had one of the best and most rewarding times of my life at camp, especially those first two years. After that, two of my cousins went to camp with me. Don't get me wrong… I like my cousins, and it was very much like going to camp with your best friends.
On the surface, this friends-from-home camp scenario looks like a winner. However, you tend not to make new friends, try new things or really immerse yourself in the camp experience.
This is one of many lessons I hope to put into practice when I send my kids to camp. In fact, it was this issue's camp profile subjects -- "H" and Libby Rothenberg, owners of Triple C Camp -- who opened the door to this personal epiphany. For years I've puzzled over why, exactly, my final three years at camp weren't quite as special as the first two. Now I believe I've found the primary culprits.
The Rothenbergs said that the number one reason kids pick a camp is because their friends go there, and they would rather see that reason toward the bottom of the list. After all, parents really should be choosing camp based on their children's needs rather than the needs of the Joneses. And, camp should foster independence and self-confidence, two things not readily available in a regular peer group setting.
Perhaps camp directors should recognize and act on this situation by trying their best to separate and segregate friends while they're at camp.
I'd appreciate your feedback on this issue and others that affect your camp business so that we can better serve you and keep the camp-to-camp dialogue alive and fresh.
Regan D. Dickinson
Phone: (830) 257-1012
Fax: (830) 257-1020
PO Box 291773, Kerrville, TX 78028