I’ve spent a considerable part of my life at camp. As the child of camp owners/directors, I’ve kind of got to live a little bit of camp every day. Throughout the past 24 summers, at a variety of day camp and resident camps, I’ve been a camper, a counselor, a bus counselor, a group leader, an admin assistant, an admin director, a special events director…I have lived and breathed camp.
While each of my camp experiences was extremely unique, each one also had the same bottom line: Every one of my camp experiences was hugely influential in making me who I am today.
Camp taught me …
• the little things, like how to make my bed, fold laundry, keep track of my belongings, and how to plunge a toilet
• concrete skills in athletics and how to swim
• how to make and keep friends
• how to set a goal and work to achieve it
• life skills, like independence, resiliency, teamwork, leadership, self-advocacy, tolerance, acceptance, appreciation and self-esteem
But above all, camp taught me about life. Camp made me who I am and what I aspire to be. I learned how to take risks and conquer my fears at camp. I learned how to step out of my comfort zone and challenge myself at camp. I learned how to fail, and how to pick myself back up and rise again at camp.
I am fortunate that I grew up with parents who understood the value of camp and were able to give me the gift of camp. I am also fortunate that I had positive role models in my life outside of camp too – in my family, at school, on my sports teams, and in my community.
There are so many children who aren’t as fortunate as me. There are so many children who need camp far more than I did, and so many children who will never have the opportunity to reap the profound benefits of camp.
I believe in the power and the magic of camp. I believe that there are life lessons and social skills that aren’t learned anywhere else but camp. I believe that every child needs and deserves a hero, a role model, and someone who will truly never give up on them, and I believe that there are many children who only find this at camp.
This is why I believe in SCOPE. I believe that every single child, regardless of gender, religion, race, or socioeconomic status needs camp, deserves camp, and can benefit profoundly from camp.
My involvement with SCOPE started when I graduated college and started working in camping professionally. I always attended the young professional events and the annual SCOPE Dinner in the city, and I always spread awareness and created activities at my camps to support SCOPE.
Last year when I left my career in camping, I created and hosted my first annual SWERVE for SCOPE event, a spin ride and birthday party dedicated to supporting SCOPE. SWERVE for SCOPE was originally just a fun idea as a way to stay involved in the camp industry and celebrate my birthday at my favorite spin studio, but it has become so much more than that. My event is so meaningful to me because it allows me to give back in a way that I feel truly matters. I feel like I am making a difference in the lives of children who wouldn’t otherwise be able to attend camp, and I am doing so through fitness and wellness, which I am so passionate about personally.
Camp will always be a special part of me, and my involvement with SCOPE will allow me to continue to make a difference for children through the camp experience.
Mel Buck, SCOPE Associate Board Member