Campfire, zip line, capture the flag, basketball, hide-and-seek, swimming, boating, water slides, singing, rock wall climbing, sleeping, eating, mini-golf, new friends, faith, independence, Pixie Stix, Dr. Pepper, the lake.
Did you go as a kid? I did. Here’s a nice little throwback picture of me and some of my favorite people when we were kids at camp.
That’s me in the middle. Look at that scrunchie. And I’d like to say that my oldest has also perfected that sad looking pout face.
Above, you’ll see me and my friend Amy at camp looking ridiculously young. Because we were. Back when pictures were taken with film. Back before she had twins and before I had three kids, a dog, and a mortgage.
Camp was a huge part of my growing-up world and a big player in strengthening and defining my faith in God. I made many lifelong friends there. I also wish I still had that green T-shirt.
Although we are grown now, I’m still besties with those camp girls and many of them stood by me in my wedding. In addition to making lifelong friends, growing big in my faith, and having a ton of fun, I had a little first kiss at camp behind a pine tree in the 8th grade. Rebel. Luckily, my own girls still think boys are disgusting, although perhaps slightly interesting. I’m good for at least a year, I think.
This summer, my girls got the opportunity to go to the same camp that I went to as a kid: Twin Lakes Bible Camp.
“Wait. You had your first kiss at a Bible camp?!”
Is there a better place? Probably. But I love that memory. It was simple and adorable and he had braces soooo… so, because my mom and sister wanted my girls to experience the same awesomeness that we did (minus the first kiss thing: shenanigans are not allowed and neither of them are close to the 8th grade yet, thankfully), they sponsored the week there as a gift to my girls, and by giving to them, also to me. By the way, giving an experience to someone as a gift is an unbelievable, unforgettable gift. Hopefully, I can return the favor to someone someday.
There is something about camp, no matter where you go, that gives kids joy on a level so deep that it is hard to explain. It is a place where kids can truly be themselves, learn who they are and who they aren’t, separate from Mom, Dad, or standard adult supervision for a short time, and experience independence on a level that maybe they haven’t before. They are free of their normal responsibilities and stress.
The camp my girls went to is amazing, offering them a safe place to learn about the God that we, as parents, have tried to teach them about as they’ve grown into bigger kids. Up until now, it has been their parents’ faith, something they are witness to. At camp this year, both of my girls decided it was their faith too, their God too. On their own. Without me there. Their choice. Their decision. No coercion. Just a week of pure fun, friendship, and faith.
I worked on staff at camp after I graduated high school and before my first year of college. I came back the following summer and worked for a faith-based sports camp. Having been both a camper and a staffer, I’m probably over-nostalgic listening to my girls jabber on about how much fun they had, how they can’t wait to go back, the lyrics to the songs they made up, the skits they did, the campfire, the lake, their cabin, how they ate spaghetti without hands. The list might go on forever.
There are hundreds of camps to choose from in Iowa: YMCA, sports affiliated, church camps like the girls went to, and many more. I think there are so many benefits to all or any of these magical summer havens, and there are plenty of lifelong memories to be made there. If only I could go back….
So if you are thinking of ways to make your kids’ summer count, do some research on the best place for your baby chicks, and send them on their way for a short stint of summer joy and freedom. Give it a shot!
Do you have any awesome camp recommendations? Do tell!