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Ready, Set, Let Your Kid Go!: My Memories of Summer Camp Define Me

Summer Camps often seem to be frowned upon by many parents and guardians. As a kid, and now as an Uncle, I hear it all from my family, “You’re just too young” or “I just don’t think I can live with you that far away from me”. I think my favorite growing-up was “I just want to protect you.” Well it’s no secret that the summer camp experience helps build some core qualities in children’s lives: Self esteem, learning respect for others and themselves, and self discovery. But here is one thing that you may not know: Summer camps have the potential to put a smile on your child’s face, through memories built and shared at such a young age.

From the time I was nine years old until the time I was 18, I was in the Boy Scouts of America. During my freshman year in High School, I achieved the ranking of Life Scout, and was working on becoming an Eagle Scout (the highest rank in Boy Scouts. I was even trying for my Eagle Wings (think highest rank plus honors and dean’s list). We had our annual summer camp planned out in Virginia, and once again I was not allowed to go because it was deemed too far by my parents. But, little did I know that my troop wouldn’t be able to afford it as a whole, so they changed it last minute to Northern California, near the Mt. Shasta Reservoir. For the first time in my life, my parents allowed me to attend after three summers of trying. The week near Shasta was unbelievable. I remember as if it were yesterday the first thing I did, I jumped in river water that was nine degrees Celsius (48 degrees Fahrenheit) to prove my swimming skills were top notch, fully clothed. I was the only one out of the seven in my troop that decided to go for it. If I passed the test, I would get not only my Swimming Merit Badge, but be ranked Swim-1, which means Id have no water restrictions. I could even check out a boat. And, yes, of course, I passed.

Little did I know that this would come in handy just 24 hours later. The very next day, My friend and I, while messing with a bee, made it very angry. I got away from the bee by outrunning and jumping in the river, however my friend wasn’t so lucky, as he ended up feeling the sting. Believe it or not we both laughed over this the entire rest of the week. However, this is the type of memories you can only build from the experience of summer camp, with friends.

If I learned that much, and have great memories all from the one summer camp, can you imagine how many could have been, had I been able to go every year? Your child could build these same memories if you allow them to participate during the summer camp season. It is my belief that parents who do not let kids attend summer camps, are doing their kids a huge disfavor. If your child wants to go to summer camp, and you can afford to do so (check with camps as some even offer scholarships and grants), the benefits and memories will last a lifetime, and impact who they become in the future.

There are a wide variety of camps readily available here in the Santa Monica area. There are those who specialize in a certain activity or interest, such as surfing, art, drama, or even church camp. Then there are those camps that provide general interests that have several activities throughout the camp (a little something for everyone). Before choosing a camp, check with your child to see what interests them, after all it is their memories. Ready, Set, Let your kid go!

Kenne Guillory

Mirror Contributing Writerkenne@smmirror.com

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