Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Camp: The Final Analysis

A quarter of a century has passed since I went to camp and returned this year as a counselor. I found the camp itself to be the same, a sort of timeless place that continues on as the outside world passes by.

But while the camp itself, as well as the activities, are the same, what has changed is the society that uses it. Parents, kids, and the administration of the camp itself have all evolved (de-evolved?) to deal with the present society.

And through the prism of camp, I have to say the view of society is not pretty. In light of the parents and kids that now populate the nation, is there any wonder that many are looking for the government to coddle them from cradle to grave, disavowing any personal responsibility from having to take care of themself? After all, if a child growing up never has to take responsibility for themself, why would we expect them to do it when they are grown up?

And while camp can be a place for kids to find independence and push themselves, the term I attended was too short to do that. The camp does have longer terms, and the short session I went to is billed as "a taste of sleep-away camp". I would like to think that in the short time I had with the kids they gained something from the experience personally - not just having fun - but I think that probably only half the kids got some sort of personal growth in that short a time period.

On a happier note, the trip down memory lane was fun. Finding your name scrawled in a cabin beam from 25 years ago is a interesting experience. And if you think I should write a book about these past couple of weeks, it has been done . When I got to camp the owner loaned me a book about an adult going back to camp and documenting his experiences. The byline of Cabin Pressure is "One Man's Desperate Attempt to Recapture His Youth as a Camp Counselor". It hit way close to home, but is a great summer read and I highly recommend it for anyone who has camping in their background.

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