School summer camp is a time where you are supposed to ignore school and all of the difficult academic things in your life so that you can focus on having fun, making friends, and enjoying your break. That said there are a lot of people that want to make it into a foundational experience on the path toward college. It does not have to be that serious, but there are definitely ways that you can use your camp experience later in life.
These are just a few of the benefits of school summer camp that you might look back on as you are in college counting your blessings.
- The Relationships That You Make
This is something that you might also do in college, but building relationships here is something that will change the way that you have friendships growing up. One of my biggest struggles as an adult is maintaining relationships with people that do not live in the same city as me. As much as it could be easy to stay in touch with a phone call, it becomes a massive hassle. When you plan for summer school programs, this is one of the first times where you will spend extended time with people that you do not go to school with.
A lot of times, you meet people from all around the country. Some of those friendships live and die at camp, but keeping them going gives you your first experience at networking. I met a professional screenwriter once that made a movie about his acting camp growing up. It turned out that my cousin, another writer, happened to also go to that camp. Even more, the creator of one of my favorite shows went there and was writing partners with the creator of another of my favorite shows.
According to Wikipedia, even Kanye West went there. That network of camp alums is able to utilize that network today to find work, which is something they never could have had otherwise.
- Learning to Co-Exist
Again, this is not exclusive to camp, but the setting actually does provide some things that you will not find in your normal life. Although counselors are always there to provide structure, camp can be one of the first times where you are interacting just as fellow humans. There is not much of an agenda at camp, so you are not going to run into people that are competitive in school in this scenario. Instead, you get to just be with each other, for better or for worse. This is where the most annoying qualities can come out, just as it can be where some of the most attractive social qualities show.
- You Can’t Always Get What You Want
These are all life lessons that are not exclusive to camp, but camp just provides an interesting structure to change things up. At most camps, the campers outman the counselors by at least four or five to one. That means that there are a lot of personalities to serve and not a lot of people to help serve them. In that way, someone is always going to have to suffer. But the thing about camp is that nobody is better than the person next to them. When you can’t get the thing that you want, neither can the person sitting next to you. It can create some nice commiseration when you are able to share that experience.
- Sacrifice For the Greater Good
Similar to the idea that there are a lot of people to serve and not a lot of people doing the serving, some people are forced to sacrifice. You are also going to sacrifice when it comes to amenities. For example, you do not always get a chance to use the phone. At my first camp, I was never allowed to call my parents or use any sort of phone. At another, there were three phones made available for three hours a day, but you had to wait in a long line to use them and did not get much privacy. It sounds a bit like a prison, but I guess the difference is that this is voluntary.
- Kids Rule the Castle
As mentioned, this is a place where kids are largely left to interact with each other on their own. As much as counselors are there as authority figures, they too are just young people, some of them not even out of high school themselves. That means that the prisoners rule the yard, which can have good and bad results. There is still someone to go to when the equilibrium breaks, but mostly, there are very few rules. You have to negotiate with your fellow campers if you want to get something for yourself.
As you are still figuring out your place in the world, school summer camp can offer the first or longest experience of interacting with a large group of peers without the structure of school above you. You also learn how to sacrifice and let go of your personal needs to reach a greater good, something you might not have done before.