When I was a kid, all 5th graders in our school district got to attend a weeklong sleep-away camp. I still have fond memories of that experience we fished, canoed, hiked, rode horses, and made life-long friendships.
Unfortunately, our local school districts don’t offer this trip anymore. However, I still wanted my 12-year-old daughter to experience camp. Last year I signed her up for a weeklong Girl Scout camp and she had a great time.
This year, she attended our church’s summer camp. Although she didn’t enjoy it as much as she enjoyed the Girl Scout camp, she did learn 10 valuable lessons during her week away from home.
10 Valuable Lessons My Daughter Learned at Summer Camp 1 of 11
Click through to discover the valuable lessons from summer camp.
Lesson #1 – Sometimes you need a little nudge to overcome your fears 2 of 11
In the mad frenzy to sign up for daily activities, my daughter placed her name on the zip-lining list. After she was strapped into the harness, she started to reconsider her decision. When my daughter reached the top of the platform, she was paralyzed by fear. As she pondered her predicament, one of her friends gave her a slight push that sent Nee flying down the zip-line. When she reached the bottom, she was happy that her friend gave her the little nudge she needed to overcome her fears and experience something new.
Lesson #2 – Teamwork is the key to success 3 of 11
The highlight of the week was a mud run obstacle course where the kids had to slosh through mud puddles, climb an 8' wall, and maneuver through a tall, wooden A-structure. To complete the race, the entire team had to cross the finish line together. The kids who were better athletes grew frustrated with the kids who were not, but they eventually realized that they had to put aside their quest for personal glory and help their teammates to succeed.
Lesson #3 – Manage your money wisely 4 of 11
Although most expenses were covered, the kids had to pay for additional snacks and drinks. I gave my daughter $25 and told her to spend it wisely. Some of her friends who had four times as much money as she did failed to heed this advice. Many of them were broke before the end of the week because they splurged on candy and energy drinks. My daughter told me that a few of the kids complained about being hungry because they didn't have any money to buy food to eat on the 4-hour ride home. I was proud to see that my daughter budgeted her money well and managed to return with $5.
Lesson #4 – Exercising tolerance can lead to new friendships 5 of 11
Kids from all over the state of Texas converged to spend a week together at this summer camp. My daughter told me that some of the girls talked all night long, others were messy, and a few of them were overbearing and unfriendly. Instead of complaining about the girls to the camp counselor, my daughter decided to remain friendly and try to understand the other girls' perspectives. As a result, she made a few new friends.
Lesson #5 – Make the most of your time 6 of 11
Although the camp had several planned activities, the kids spent a good portion of the day with unstructured time. My daughter learned how to manage her time so she wouldn't be bored. She hung out with her friends, played in the pool, wrote in her journal, and explored the woods. She realized that school would be starting soon and she wanted to have as much fun at camp as she possibly could.
Lesson #6 – Get out of your comfort zone and try new things 7 of 11
The summer camp offered archery, rifling, BMX, hiking, crafts, and horseback riding. Since my daughter is a skilled crafter and has ridden horses several times, she decided to try archery. It took awhile for her to get used to the bow and arrow, but she persevered and finally hit the target. She was happy that she pushed herself to try something new and is now ready to challenge Princess Merida to an archery match.
Lesson #7 – You can live without technology 8 of 11
As soon as the kids arrived at camp, they had to relinquish all electronic devices. In other words, they had to endure a whole week without cell phones, video games, or television. At first, my daughter thought that this rule was cruel and usual punishment, but she soon realized that interacting with other kids in real life was just as fun as texting.
Lesson #8 – Things aren’t always as bad as they may seem 9 of 11
In addition to not having technology, the kids also had to do without modern conveniences such as air-conditioning and private bathrooms. She also had to sleep on an uncomfortable bed in a musty cabin while avoid mosquitos. Although my daughter thought she would die after the first day, she managed to endure her perceived hardships and grew stronger in the process.
Lesson #9 – Homecooking isn’t so bad afterall 10 of 11
My daughter's main complaint about her camping experience was the quality of the food. She said that it made the school cafeteria look like a five star restaurant. Before camp, she was a picky eater. Now she is happy to eat the meals that I cook for her. When she starts complaining about dinner, all I have to say is, "Would you rather have camp food?" She immediately stops complaining and finishes her meal.
Lesson #10 – Family is important 11 of 11
Before my daughter left for camp, my sons, my wife and I wrote her a note. Each day at camp, she received one of the notes to read. She told us that the notes encouraged her and made her feel loved. By the end of the week, she even started to miss her annoying little brothers.