Camp is an experience that cannot be duplicated in any other environment, offering the opportunity for your child to achieve the poise and confidence that comes with the mastery of skills and the sociability developed as a vital participant in a structured and democratic society of his/her peers. Camps invest countless hours throughout the year to prepare and evaluate their upcoming season.
An individually programmed sessional camp allows children to chose the activities that they would like to participate in. It allows the parents to be able to afford a portion of the camp experience at a reasonably priced tuition. It gives the family more flexibility for their own time together. Parents have asked me about the importance of the bunk in terms of the Ã¢â‚¬Å“total camp experience.Ã¢â‚¬Â Some believe that the traditional camp offers a more valuable camp experience.
In my almost 30 years of camping, I have always viewed the individually programmed creative arts camp as a camp that offers all the activities and experiences that any camp in the world could provide and then much, much more. I tried various camps for my children, traditional and sports camps where what everybody recommended. It will make a man out of your son, I was often told. My own children were very much sports oriented kids. My son became a three letter man in high school and college. A captain of two teams. My daughter was the captain of her high school softball team. I wanted my children exposed to the boys and girls that attended a camp with an abundance of creative and artistic activities. My kids loved sports, the out doors, and the like. I realized that at the individualized creative arts camp they could partake in swimming and sailing, and tennis, and baseball and basketball, and fencing, and wrestling, and biking, and hockey, and skating and football and soccer, yes and even horseback riding. but they could also learn to play an instrument, be in a Broadway show with a full pit, be in a band or orchestra, learn to dance, build a set, learn about video, sound, and lighting, throw a pot, make a puppet, screen a shirt, create an animation, produce a movie, record their own music, fly on the trapeze, jam with a rock band, the list is endless. To run an individualized program, a camp must have a copious array of activities to direct the children toward. Without this vast assortment of activity the children would have little to choose from and it would defeat the whole individually programmed concept.
Through all of these activities, one thing that stands out in my mind is the tremendous support that the campers give to one another. The creative arts camper is more precocious and more introspective that the average child; they are brighter, more inquisitive, creative, motivated and supportive. This is just the environment in which I would want my children to be exposed.
At my sonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s wedding, there were four tables of former campers. One table was full with boys from his very first bunk (age 6), the young men he started camp with, and almost twenty years later still counted them as his most important friends. All camps build this kind of camaraderie. Parents just seem to be surprised by the strong bonds created at the individualized creative arts camp. Remember, it is still CAMP.
My little ones, who are still at camp, were on the computer last night speaking to their camp friends from around the country and making plans to visit with them whenever the chance presented itself. It is these precisely these relationships which will last a lifetime. The sharing and the camaraderie are incomparable.
I see the bonds at camp being very strong ones. I see the bonds at the individualized creative arts camp going a step beyond. Parents ask about the importance of the bunk. The kids are not always together. Do they develop a relationship with the other children in their cabin? I point out that the bunk is very important. Remember, the campers leave the bunk every morning and go out and work hard to learn and achieve at various activities. They must learn their songs, lines, and dances for a show. They must learn and rehearse the music for their concert. They must practice and rehearse their circus acts. They have baseball and basketball practice. Many times, they are with various members of their bunk and sometimes their interests separate them from some of their bunkmates. But at the end of the day, and at every meal they reunite with their Ã¢â‚¬Å“bunkÃ¢â‚¬Â; itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s their safe haven, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s their support, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s their best friends, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s like coming home after a tough day and knowing that your Ã¢â‚¬Å“familyÃ¢â‚¬Â is there to comfort you and share in your successes and, yes, your hardships as well.
Individualized creative arts CAMPS are more sophisticated in many ways. Children attend for various lengths of time. Some children stay longer, while others leave and new kids arrive. Parents worry that their child will not get the support from their peers that a traditional camp might offer. Just ask the children. The boys and girls await the new campers with open arms. They cannot wait to help them, orient them, and take them under their wings. At one time, they were the new campers too, and they were welcomed with open arms and made to feel that CAMP was their home away from home.
My wife and I can honestly say that camp changed our childrenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s lives for the better. It opened them up to a magnificent learning experience in the company of the most amazing and extraordinary people one could ever meet.
Again, the importance of the bunk at an individualized creative arts camp cannot be denied. The team building and the camaraderie far exceed any oneÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s expectations. Although the camper meets and develops relationships with peers outside of the bunk, the bunk remains one of the most important aspects of camp life. Counselors are trained, with the knowledge that the bunk is the most important aspect of camping. The individualized creative arts camp is so successful because it starts with this premise and move on from there to create one of the most incredible environments in all of camping.
A French Woods Parent First
And a Camp Director at
French Woods Festival of the Performing Arts
Hancock, NY 13783