New Year’s is one of the best times of year. In the middle of winter, amid cold and snow, we look ahead to the summer and camp. In just a few months (it always sneaks up on us!) the days get longer, the weather gets warmer, and we in the camp world do something special: give children the gift of growth.
We’ll do it again this year. But this time we’re writing a New Year’s message in the very difficult days following the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut.
When we heard the news, we reacted like everyone: with a combination of horror, dread, anger, and unspeakable sadness. The more we learned, the more intensely we felt those emotions. We think about Newtown every day, and will continue to do so for a long time to come. Our feelings mirrored those of every parent. When you hear news like that, you feel an instinctive urge to circle the wagons. You feel a primal need to protect children, watch over them even more vigilantly than before, shield them from every potential harm that lurks in our world. But as a camp director (and as a parent), we know we shouldn’t do that.
We feel it would be the wrong choice to never let our children out of our sight. We can’t hover constantly, and control their every move. We can’t smother them with a love so strong that they never grow up.
Camp is a place where children can and do grow. It’s a place where they feel comfortable, secure, and loved. It’s a place kids need.
Every year in the United States, more than 11 million boys and girls attend more than 12,000 summer camps. In woods and cabins, on lakes and rivers, these children develop strong friendships. Mentored by young (and older) adults, they take safe risks. They learn about camaraderie. They learn about traditions. They learn about sports, arts and the outdoors. They learn about themselves. They learn about life. They learn how to live.
In the difficult days after Newtown, it is those things the promise of every summer, but especially this one that provides such bright light.
Jem and Debbie Roger and Dagni
Camp Laurel Laurel South