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Send a Kid to Camp and Reap Wonders
Summer kids' camp is a magical, other-world experience. Everyone should have the chance to go at least once in his or her life.

Leaping bunnies, falling stars, soaring eagles and curious chipmunks. I can't promise your kids will see all these wonders if they go to camp this summer, but they're more likely to see them at camp than anywhere else. So take a chance.

Photo courtesy Kenda Capon

I saw all of the above in a short five days of camp this spring. The leaping bunnies were cavorting across a field early one morning before any of the campers were up. The falling stars sprinkled our nights with unexpected wonder. The eagle flew overhead as I walked the beach one afternoon with several of our campers. The chipmunks showed up all week, regardless of how many rambunctious campers were around.

Having just directed a camp for university students, I can attest that camp in April — when there are still patches of snow in the woods and the Northumberland Strait is still frigid — is not quite like camp in July. But it's still camp, still a magical, other-world experience. Everyone should have the chance to go at least once in his or her life.

I say that knowing, however, that camp is not for everyone. Some kids hate it. They hate sleeping in a draughty cabin with a bunch of kids they've never met before. They hate getting up early and having to dash across a field to a bathroom that may be home to spiders and flies. They hate having to participate in sports, line up for meals and go to bed, once again, with a bunch of kids they hardly know.

But in all my experience with kids and camp, I've met far more who love camp than hate it. So I'm firmly convinced that everyone should give camp a try at least once in their lives — and now is the time to start thinking about that. There are lots of great camps within driving distance of whatever community you happen to call home.

If you don't have a kid to send to camp, send money to a camp for scholarships instead. That way you can still enjoy the thought that some kid is having the time of his or her life, at least for one week this summer. And if you don't like kids, well, perhaps your scholarship will go to a kid who ends up hating camp. You win either way.

But back to the leaping bunnies, falling stars, soaring eagles and curious chipmunks. These are realities, not necessarily in the literal sense, for any kid that goes to camp.

Have you ever seen a leaping, cavorting bunny? I saw my first ones last week at camp. Their wild abandon made me laugh. Their joie de vivre made my day begin on a bright note, even though I hadn't had much sleep the night before.

Falling stars inspire more subdued reactions. They are the moments of wonder, of sudden discovery, of realizing you've seen something no one else has seen. They are the discoveries you make when you aren't even searching for anything.

Soaring eagles, on the other hand, are exactly what you need to see when you are searching for something. The grace of an eagle flapping its wings, then riding the wind currents, reminds us that life, even when it's work, has its moments of energized respite. Eagles are pure energy and strength. Ever seen a kid run the bases after hitting a home run? He's riding the wind currents, too.

And then there are the chipmunks, those curious little creatures who, if you're not careful, will wreak havoc everywhere they're not supposed to be. Every camp I've ever been associated with has had its share of kids who get into things, get in trouble and generally stir things up. For the most part, like the chipmunks, no great harm is meant or done. They just can't help themselves. And there's something endearing about that, even if it drives you crazy in the moment.

Leaping bunnies, falling stars, soaring eagles and curious chipmunks. If you're going to find them anywhere in the coming summer months, you'll find them at camp. If you're too old to get there yourself, send a kid.

Lynda MacGibbon is a writer based in Riverview New Brunswick and the NB/PEI Director for Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship. She can be reached at lmacgibbon@ivcf.ca.

Originally published in Moncton Times & Transcipt, Moncton, NB, May 14, 2005, and simultaneously on www.canadaeast.com; Reprinted in Word & Deed, Summer 2007.

 

 
 
 
 

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