Summer camps (specifically sleep-away camps) are where many children and teenagers go for that uncomfortable stage when we don’t know really if we should call ourselves by the grade we just left or the one we’re going into. But, really, summer camps offer much more than the chance to have fun for four or eight weeks with hundreds of other kids. They teach us many important lessons that truly impact our lives.
Moshava, which was and is my summer camp of choice, taught me how to interact with other people. Aside from making friends or meeting new people, Moshava actually taught me social skills I couldn’t have learned during the year, such as how to talk to girls without getting extremely awkward and feeling the need to pee my pants. It gave me the confidence to approach people by whom I would have otherwise been extremely intimidated, and to willingly speak to people in positions of authority because they aren’t all mean and scary. Without summer camp I would still be a shy, timid, and scared kid who couldn’t work up the courage to talk to anyone but his family and a small group of friends.
Camp teaches us to become self-sufficient. In school we are guided everywhere by teachers and have everything spoon-fed to us. We don’t even know how to dress ourselves in the morning (yes, I exaggerate). Then we are thrown into a situation in which we have nobody hounding us all day and telling us what we have to do for a month. Mostly we learn to fend for ourselves. We learn to know where to go, at what point and how to get there. We learn to get things done on our own and make the right decisions.
In short, from camp we learn how to be ourselves and develop a personality. Couldn’t camp be an all-year-round affair?
By Isaac Altman