Although it’s been over 50 years since I went to sleep away camp, probably a day doesn’t go by when something I’m doing doesn’t trigger memories of those wonderful years at camp. I can remember as a small child coming home from camp, I hadn’t even gotten to the house or unpacked my trunk when I was already begging to go back.
As I read over old letters I wrote to my parents from camp, tears flow down my cheeks. I remember it all as though it was yesterday – the campfires and sing-alongs and s’mores; color war and the healthy competitive spirit; the rainy day bunk activities, the overnight camping trips; and most importantly, the friendships and relationships I made with campers and counselors. One letter says it all, “Camp is the same as always – GREAT.”
To have the opportunity to go to sleep away camp is an experience of a lifetime. It is something that stays with you forever, and forever changes who you are. Camp provides so much more than just activities. It provides a place where a child can go and just be them-self, where they can make new and lasting friendships, where they are loved and cherished, and where they are accepted unconditionally. I saw this through my own eyes and through the camp experiences of my daughters.
For many of our SCOPE campers, it their first time at sleep away camp or away from home; for some it is a return to a magical summer they had been waiting for since the day they left last summer. Our campers come from different places and different backgrounds, different schools and different experiences. Most have had a hard and difficult childhood. Yet, they all have a common thread; they have been given the gift of a lifetime, to go to sleep away camp. For most, this will probably be one of the most remarkable and formidable experiences of their life. Summer camp offers these children new experiences that can change their lives forever.
When talking to SCOPE campers, you realize how valuable their camping experience has been. As one child says, “Attending camp has been one of the most beautiful and beneficial things that I have ever done. It has truly been a life changing experience. I think every child should have the opportunity to experience going to camp.” Another says, “I loved the feeling of being in camp. The hardest part was leaving. The whole school year I was remembering how much fun I had at camp. I was so happy when I was told I could come back.” These sentiments reflect my very own.
Sending a child to camp is truly giving them a chance to change their lives. It’s the benefits of summer camp that will provide these children the life skills to stay in school and progress towards a positive tomorrow. Camp lets them know that they can be anything they want to be if they make good choices.
Won’t you join me by supporting SCOPE on #GivingTuesday (December 1st) or by making a donation to our 25 for 25 campaign? We are hoping to raise $32,500 this holiday season, the amount needed to give the gift of camp to 25 SCOPE campers in honor of our 25th anniversary year! Please help us make the dream of summer camp a reality.
Camp impacted my life and I feel fortunate to have provided the gift of camp to my children. May we join together this holiday season to help others’ children to experience the gift of summer camp.