The old African proverb "It takes a village to raise a child" rings truer as time continues its march forward. In 2013, children are raised by their parents and/or guardians in conjunction with carefully chosen groups, ideas, institutions and social experiences. Out-of-school-time organizations, community members, peers, religious organizations, and even the culture of the Internet are all doing their part in growing the next generation.
In this partnership of many, summer camp communities play a key role. Since camps partner with both parents and schools, they are uniquely positioned to complement and reinforce what children are learning at home and in the classroom. At camp, children who were previously strangers come together in a unique educational and social setting to learn new skills, gain independence, and create lasting bonds of friendship. There, much of the responsibility falls on the shoulders of those who are in their late teens and early 20’s. Camp counselors in this demographic overwhelmingly rise to the occasion and wow parents with their acceptance and handling of such awesome responsibility.
In fact, many young campers aspire to become counselors someday. It’s a rewarding leadership challenge that’s helped young people learn the “people skills” and life skills that are critical to success in every field imaginable.
A comment in Harvard professor Erika Christakis’ article Summer Camp: Can It Make Kids More Responsible? from Executive Director of YMCA Camp Fuller (ACA Accredited) Peter Swain highlights this point perfectly: “Seeing young, anxious campers grow into confident, capable leaders is why I have continued to do this job,” Swain says. “It’s great to see camp staff carry their camp values into their college and working life — it really means that the work of camp has meaning to society.”