Anyone who has witnessed the magical influence of the camp environment knows that we have to advocate in every way possible for camp. I have to join the conversation, “Education Nation,” to add my voice to what every camp parent knows anecdotally – camp is a classroom without walls, a learning environment close to nature, with authentic human connections and unlimited opportunities to practice growing up.
Children succeed because of their role models, not because of the length of their school day. They thrive thanks to their teachers or their counselors, who motivate them to become learners.
With all due respect to educators and legislators who are trying to find the answers, we don’t need more time to teach to the test. Rather, our conversation about education reform needs to consider the whole child — the art of camp, with its social education, is a vital complementary component to the science of school’s lessons.
Children need to be productive, to feel connected, and to learn to navigate on their own. The answers will follow.
Thousands of our colleagues across the nation will attest to the power of camp. No grades. No permanent records. Just authentic connections to the real world. Play is the work of childhood; it’s how children invent and re-invent themselves, find their place in the universe, and learn what they are good at and where they need to practice. Life is the quintessential test tomorrow’s leaders need to pass.
“Waiting for Superman,” the newly released documentary dedicated to fixing education in America, calls to mind one of the most compelling quotes we ever received from a camp parent: “For Alex, putting on his camp tee shirt was like changing into a Superman cape.” Our children may all be ranked 24th in the world in math skills, but I can tell you that those who go to camp are Number 1 in self-confidence, resilience, and critical thinking skills.
School and camp are the yin and yang of education, interconnected parts that together advance bona fide academic achievement. We get it. We need to make sure that those who haven’t had the benefit of a camp experience come to understand its unique value in educating American children.