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We could have created a list a kilometre long on all the things children learn at camp. But we narrowed it down to seven because we know, as a parent, you may not have the time to read 1,001 things. Here are just seven things children will learn at camp:

1. How long they can go without being sanitized/a little dirt never hurt nobody. Yes, it is true – since the beginning of the history of camp, parents have been mystified by the lack of interest in children over the idea of cleanliness. It is a thing. And despite labeling everything with the days of the week and providing a bag clearly marked for dirty laundry – that bag stays empty. At day camp, that special bag for their wet swimsuit and towel is ignored and that sopping wet swimsuit AND towel, with most of the sand from the beach, can be reliably found in midst of the crackers that they didn’t finish at the bottom of the backpack. Surprisingly, their spirits are never dampened by the lack of cleanliness and they get up the next day ready and willing to do it all over again.

2. How to listen deeply. Camp provides an environment and opportunity for an expanse of time uncluttered by the use of technology and screens. With this gift of time comes the opportunity for deep listening: to what the natural world and its beauty are saying to each one of us in the rustling of trees and the song of birds; to each other and conversations that go uninterrupted as dreams and ideas are shared; to the call of the Sacred and mystery in all of us.

3. How to carve… or bake bread, or paint, or play the drums, or learn a new game, or knit, or how to administer first aid, or any number of amazing things! Skills children learn at camp can become lifelong passions that engage their minds and encourage them to be creative. Warning: during or after camp, your child may express an interest in going to your closest craft store to pick up supplies to continue a quest for mastery of making friendship bracelets or another skill that catches your child’s interest!

4. How to be a friend. There are never enough opportunities to learn how to be friendly and supportive to those around us. Camps open up opportunities for children to share time together – to make new friends and connect with old ones. Sharing meals together in community can foster great relationships. Camp Spirit thrives on the generosity of multi-generational volunteers, creating a safe environment that encourages interaction and friendship across all ages – elders and children, toddlers and youth – sharing wisdom and stories with one another.

5. How to lead. Camps offer opportunities for youth and young adults to develop their leadership skills, skills that affirm each child for who they are, and skills in providing an environment of inclusion and authentic welcome. Leaders express care, respect, delight and joy in their jobs. Children learn how to lead by watching these leaders in action.

6. How to sing. To all those parents and guardians out there, we are sorry – sorry that we taught songs that caught your child’s imagination and interest – so much so, that they sing them… all the time! In the car, in the bath, at dinnertime, hiking, biking, when they are supposed to be going to sleep, to annoy an older sibling (in the car, in the bath or when they are supposed to be sleeping). You get the idea. And we are a little bit sorry but, they are really fun songs and some of them even have amazing messages of love and hope!

7. How they matter. Each child is affirmed for the beauty and gift of their spirit and life! It is a blessing to spend time with each one of them.

Pamela Jeffery
Minister of Children, Youth and Families
Shaguessy United