Swimming in the lake, goofy songs learned around a campfire, the chatter of birds as you walk through dew-damp grass on the way to breakfast. If you were lucky enough to attend summer camp as a child, you probably have cherished memories of it. And why not? Camp is one of the few places where kids can be kids while satisfying their need for physical activity, creative expression, and true participation in an accepting and nurturing environment.
Immersed in nature, campers live, work, and play together—creating a supportive microcosm where they can “practice” growing up. Because they feel safe at camp, children are comfortable taking healthy risks and trying things they might not at home. Conquering challenges like a day-long hike, or holding a salamander for the first time, rewards perseverance with self-esteem.
"At camp I think that I can do more and be proud of myself."
Research from the American Camp Association shows that children who go to camp have experiences that help them as adults. When asked, ninety-three percent of campers said that they got to know kids who were different from them, ninety-two percent said going to camp increased their self-esteem, and seventy-four percent said they gained the courage to try things they were at first afraid to do. The skills and experiences gained at camp give students a leg-up in future endeavors.
But what about students who, due to financial or cultural barriers, don’t get to go to camp? How does a student who has never seen Lake Michigan pursue a career in environmental science? Or conservation? How can a child who has never spent a night away from home, or met a person from another country, dream of leaving their neighborhood to go to college?
"One main thing I learned last year was to be more open to others. That especially helped me into my first year of high school. It helped me get to know more people and to not judge them by their physical appearance, but rather the person they really are."
One of the greatest gifts a community can give their young students is the confidence to succeed. Camp expands a child’s horizons and provides experiences that they can draw upon throughout their lives.
We believe strongly in the power of camp to change young lives. This year, donations from individuals, foundations and local businesses will help provide 140 partial camperships and 20 full camperships to deserving students. Each will have the summer adventure of a lifetime.
Donations are still needed to help send students from low-income urban communities to camp. To contribute, visit www.duneslearningcenter.org/give.