From Generation to Generation
In the summer of 1984 I waved goodbye to my mom and hopped on the bus, ready for the drive up to Camp Walt Whitman. I was eight years old and tickled about going to sleep away camp for the first time. I couldn’t wait! My mother and her two siblings had both gone to CWW years earlier, and while it isn’t why I chose to go to sleep away camp, it is why I chose CWW. Fortunately, I loved everything about camp. As an only child, I loved having other kids around all the time. As a city kid, I was completely enamored of all the fresh air, green grass, mountains, and of course, beautiful Lake Armington. When I went home at the end of the summer, I knew I wanted to return.
Return I did, every summer through 2001, with the exception of the two I took off after my CIT summer. As a kid, all I really cared about was having fun and being with my friends. Years later I recognized what important lessons came from camp. I learned about the precious camaraderie that only comes from sharing a living space with people. I learned the beauty of trying new things, even when I wasn’t good at them, and I learned how friends can become family. Crucially, I learned about sharing and compromise. As a staff member, I learned both how to accept immense personal responsibility, and also how to be part of a team. I learned about setting good examples, and also that sometimes, as a leader, it’s okay to be the bad guy. Unsurprisingly, all these lessons helped me to become a better Social Worker and a better parent.
And now I’m a camp parent! My oldest son fell in love with CWW the moment we arrived at Family Camp. I watched with pride as he immersed himself in the particular kind of fun and independence that exist at camp. He then went to Pioneer Camp and I was blown away by his courage and enthusiasm. He tried foods and activities that I never thought he’d try! It’s amazing how our kids can thrive when we remove ourselves and let them explore and challenge themselves in a safe and nurturing environment. Now he’s ready to be a full fledged camper, and though I will miss him terribly, I know that the gifts he will receive are immeasurable and will last him a lifetime, just as mine have.