"I can usually tell which kids have gone to summer camp.”
My older daughter’s 6th grade Humanities teacher said these words to me about 10 years ago, while I was helping chaperone a trip to a New York City museum. I knew the teacher looked back on her own camp experience as being one of the most formative events in her life and that she knew I owned and directed a camp.
"They seem to know how to work on group projects, when to speak up and when to listen…."
She continued on from there and the words have resonated with me through the years. She was a wonderful teacher who always tried to “run her classroom like camp.” Kids blossomed under her care.
At Scatico, we have spoken for many years about providing “the skills, values, friendships and memories that make traditional camping a life‐enriching experience.” Recent trends in education that are re‐examining the significance of non‐classroom settings in child development have reaffirmed for me the power of camp.
My wife Diana and I recently attended a camp/educational conference at which a keynote speaker spoke about “21st Century Skills.” Of four broad categories highlighted in a study conducted by ATC21S (“Assessment and Teaching of 21st Century Skills”) three seemed to have been identified with summer camp specifically in mind:
Ways of Thinking. Creativity, critical thinking, problem‐solving, decision‐making and learning.
Ways of working. Communication and collaboration.
Skills for living in the world. Citizenship, life and career, and personal and social responsibility.
Think of the myriad interpersonal relationships, team-building projects, community bonding, and wonderment for nature that a child will experience at camp:
Cheering up a homesick bunkmate or welcoming someone new to the community; Planning a divisional skit for a talent show or practicing for a sports competition; Sitting around a campfire to listen to a story or simply pausing with a group of friends at the end of the day to watch the sun set….And that’s just the first two days!
Wherever that 6th grade Humanities teacher is today, she should know that by bringing a little camp into the classroom she enriched the lives of her students and made learning and growing fun and memorable.