Camp. Just the word elicits such warm, feel-good memories from spending eight summers of my childhood there.
Summers of tentalows and lip syncs and tandem canoeing and Me-Me Bird stories. I anticipated these golden summers so much that I packed my trunk months in advance, despite the barrage of questions from my skeptical school friends. “Aren’t you a little old for summer camp?” “How will you have time to do anything else?” Or my personal favorite, “Do your parents not like you?”
Back then, it was hard for me to explain my love for Greystone, knowing most of my friends would not understand. Now, as a parent with a 10-year-old daughter who is just as excited to spend her third summer there, I’ve been reflecting on what it is that makes Greystone so life-giving for our daughters.
I recently became an adoptive parent coach and one of the most important things I teach to our families is the idea that our children, above all else, need connection.
Connection with parents or caregivers, connection with friends, connection with teachers and coaches, connection with God. A child can have all the basic necessities of life…food, water, shelter…but without vulnerable, authentic connection, a child is at risk for a shaky, perhaps even crumbly, foundation of trust, self-worth, and empowerment. We were designed to be in and crave healthy, nurturing relationships.
Camp, at its very core, gives our daughters this vital sense of connection and belonging that is critical for their long-term social and emotional well-being. Camp encourages them to go out of their comfort zones, safety nets fully engaged, make new friends, contribute to a cabin community, and deepen their relationship with God. They get to try new things without fear of failure in an encouraging, low stakes environment, and above all, they have fun and play as every kid should.
In our fast paced world where every bored minute can be replaced by staring at an electronic device, Greystone gives our girls the opportunity to consistently stay in connection, trusting in relationships, and feeling a sense of belonging simply by being themselves.
Checking out, or checking Instagram, is not an option. Self-esteem is not bolstered by “likes” or number of followers. Instead, our girls explore hidden talents, set goals, contribute to a healthy community, and grow self-acceptance to say with confidence: “I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”
Like most of you parents each summer, I check the Photos section of the website multiple times per day, just to see if I can get a glimpse of my daughter in her full Greystone glory. I absolutely love seeing her truest, most beautiful self shine through. The smiles communicate connection and belonging better than any social media app ever could. #nofilterneeded