The Real Value of Camp

In creating an inaugural post for the Week-Ender blog, I struggled to come up with something relevant and interesting. I started a number of blog posts and came up with nothing that really resonated with the essence of camp I want to capture for everyone to read. Not until a Facebook request from a former camper and current counselor popped up today did I have an idea of where to go.

Anyone who has spent time with a camp can attest to the fact that after a bit of time, you feel your life become somewhat intertwined with camp. Although I never attended Camp Hamwi as a camper (due to my lack of diabetes) and have never served as camp director, I have worked in literally every counseling, staff and director position in my 18 years there. Each year I leave after a week wondering how I’ll manage to make it an entire year away, and I struggle to explain to others just what a gem of an experience this camp gives to campers and staff. I know I’m far from alone in this passion, and the Facebook request from Anne, a former camper-turned-counselor made me realize just why I love camp so much. Anne is working on her high school Capstone project--a project counseling other high school students with diabetes on the finer points of nutrition and exercise--and as a complement, sharing with them the importance of coming to camp by sharing past camp photos with them, which is where I (as camp slide-show creator) came in. Could I help by sharing photos for her to show her group?

Anne is a wonderful young woman I’ve known for years, and her interest in working with young people didn’t surprise me nearly as much as her integration of camp into her Capstone project. That she feels passionately enough to include a reference to her camp life in her real-world, academic life speaks volumes to the value of the camp in a way that no amount of explanation could. Her request for photos reminded me that public relations and marketing budgets can post fliers and email camp registration reminders, but the true indicator of success to any camp program is how many hearts and minds it captures through the memories it creates.

Like any business, camps have been hit hard by the economy, but it’s important to keep in mind that there are so many intangible experiences and moments that come from camp that to attempt quantification in terms of dollars and cents is a moot point. The success of a camp cannot be adequately measured monetarily; instead we need to use the passions of our current camp family to extend and deepen our reach for generations to come.

Beth Morrow is a freelance author, educator and member of the Central Ohio Diabetes Association’s Youth Committee and Camp Leadership teams. She has served for 16 years as Senior Week program director for Camp Hamwi, a residential, age-based, week-long residential camp for diabetic youth. Reach her via e-mail at:

Bryan BuchkoComment