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Camper or Camp Counselor? Not An Easy Choice To Make

As the school year ends, children are preparing to embark on summer fun. Some children go to summer day camps while some go to sleep away camps.

Most children, like my daughter, have loved going to camp, but this year, the choice posed a difficult decision for her and an interesting point of view for me. Shaina has been going to camp since she was four, from nursery school to Suffolk Y JCC for two years, then one summer at USDAN, as well as three years of violin camp. While she has loved going to all these camps and has created so many memories from each one, she was unwilling to go to camp this year.

Part of the unwillingness this year is the opportunity of being a volunteer camp counselor at a Nursery School for the second year. It was something she wanted to do since she loved playing with younger kids. I didn’t know if she would last for eight weeks when she “worked” last year, let alone being a volunteer. But every day, she loved talking about “her kids” and how much she loved being with them.

This year, while her friends have been planning what camps they were going to, Shaina only had one plan, to go back and be a volunteer camp counselor. When we mentioned going to camp, she had no desire to go to any camp. Shaina really wanted to take care of little kids and she wanted to work for the full eight weeks of camp. To her, that IS fun and feels that she doesn’t need to go to camp.

While I love the fact that my child wants to be responsible and be of service to others, my husband and I feel that she is still like any other child who should go to camp and have camp experiences. The three of us discussed the idea of doing both and was able to reach a compromise. Shaina will be able to go to camp for the first two weeks, then work as a camp counselor for the last six weeks of nursery school camp.

I, myself, never went to any camp when I was growing up. Coming from an urban neighborhood, I was not exposed to any camp and my summers were spent being with my friends. My parents had no exposure to camps and even if they did, it was too expensive to send me or my siblings to one. I never knew the value of camp until I moved to the suburbs and saw what camp experiences brought to each child. I’ve seen from other young people how the friendships they develop from camp can last for years. My own husband has sustained friendships from camp and recently had a reunion with them.

With Shaina’s first day of camp today as a camper, she still has reservations about whether she made the right choice to do both. I guess I’ll see how she feels when she gets home from camp. That’s my take on this, what’s yours?

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