For many children across the United States, summer time means camp time. That is all the child knows- each summer when school vacation rolls around, they begin to get excited about going off to camp and spending many weeks with their friends doing their favorite activities.
But, as we all know, nothing lasts forever. Not childhood…not camp. There comes a time when one becomes “too old for childish things”.
However, we do not ask our children to STOP all of a sudden and instantly become an adult. It is a gradual transition that happens naturally, given a little time and the right circumstances.
Can’t we do the same for the wonderful, extremely impactful camp experience? We all know the right turn has to be made, but how about instead of a 90 degree or a complete 180 degree turn, we take a year or two to bear to the right instead?
How do you do that? You either go to camp or you don’t? Maybe not. At the end of the summer of 2015 we met with a group of our senior campers at Kutsher’s Sports Academy and asked who planned to come back the next summer. It did not surprise us to hear that many had already begun discussing “something different”, as they thought they might be too old (and too cool) for camp. But while they were actually uttering the words “I’m not a kid anymore” their faces started to show signs of worry, then shock, and some even began to cry. Camp was their life, and life was going to change.
We made a proposal that day that excited many of them, and it made a tough life decision not quite as dramatic and permanent. What we proposed was the best of both worlds. We knew that these campers loved camp and didn’t want to give up that experience of being with their friends and doing all the familiar activities, but we also understood their need for something different and exciting at that age. They wanted to experience a different culture, satisfy some of those school Community Service requirements, and travel! Things they could not do while at camp. But they also wanted their beloved camp!
So why not both? How could we do that? We asked how many would be interested in a program with a few weeks at camp and then a few weeks on a “Senior” trip together? All hands went up.
The next summer we did exactly that and the reviews were tremendous! They came to camp and had another fantastic couple of weeks to add to their memory books, then drove off to the airport together, took a group flight and landed at a beautiful destination that offered many new and exciting opportunities for two more weeks of fun, learning and most important for that age, new life experience.
We now are in that business full time, with a fantastic new facility in Latin American that offers all of the activities on the coast of the Pacific Ocean, with 12 miles of beach front and cultural opportunities everywhere. We offer to camps and campers all over the United States and all over the world. The campers have the time of their lives, love camp, and get the sense of accomplishment and credits from the community service, educational and language aspects of the program. It is truly the best of both worlds.
So when campers come to that fork in the road, as Yogi Berra famously said, “take it”. But it doesn’t have to be a drastic turn. Simply bear to the right. You can have your camp and leave it too!