Last week we talked about how summer camp is needed more than ever in these crazy times, but any alumna could tell you that camp has always been about more than just fun! Of course our days are full of activities and Evening Progams and all the spontaneous dance parties a girl could want, but there’s a purpose behind it all.
Growth happens naturally at camp. You’re out of your comfort zone, with new people, trying new things. You take a deep breath and introduce yourself to a cabinmate on Opening Day. You sign up for the class you’ve never tried before, even though you’re worried you won’t be very good. You start paging through your Bible at Rest Hour, or stay behind at Morning Assembly to ask the minister a question.
Libby used to tell the campers that their parents will inevitably say “My how much you’ve grown!” on Closing Day, and not because they’ve shot up in inches! That kind of Spiritual, Social, Mental, and Physical growth goes with you when you leave camp. It gives you the courage to sit with the lonely girl in the caffeteria, or to ask your family to find a church home. You have the confidence to try out for a sports team, and focus on what your body can do instead of what it looks like. Camp skills are life skills!
Of course one of the biggest hurdles a teenager has in front of her is the transition to college, so we asked some of our recent grads how their time at camp prepared them for the big move. Read on to hear about a few specific things they learned at camp that set them up for success in the next stage, and let us know: how did camp prepare YOU for the real world?
For many girls, camp is the first time they are away from their families for more than a night. It’s a whole new world where they get to decide which activities to take, how to sort laundry, what dance moves they love, and how to have a faith that’s all their own. Camp is a safe place for girls to explore and figure out who they are. With every success comes confidence in their new skills!
As former camper Emma says, “After 10 summers of going away to Greystone I became independent by learning how to go away from home for an extended amount of time from my family and friends, by creating friendships on my own, taking care of myself, keeping my bunk neat, and following a schedule on my own.”
Margaret summed it up well: “Camp prepared me to be away from home. I was lucky enough to not struggle with homesickness when I got to college and camp played a huge part in that. I also think the “great day” attitude was so important. It was a great idea to hold on to when days were hard! Camp is such an empowering place so I think it gave me a lot of self-confidence that led me to be more comfortable and confident in the new college environment.”
Not only does camp teach you how to make friends (and really great ones at that!), it also gives you an entire community of connections to draw from when you move to a new place.
At Greystone we learn that making friends is way simpler than you think. Anna Ruth points out that, “Camp taught me how to make friends! All it takes is a smile and a “My name is…” and then you have a new connection on campus, which is critical especially during COVID.”
And Annabel shares what she told herself going in to Freshman year: “At camp, kindness is a currency so making friends there was never difficult. Coming to college I told myself, if at 9 years old I can make lifelong friendships, college should be a breeze.”
Mary Eliza points out that “camp helped me really learn how to embrace these new relationships. I now think it’s more fun rather than awkward talking to new people. Camp has taught me to wear my heart on my sleeve and to love on people. Small talk doesn’t have to be weird and you can make new friends anywhere!”
Chase says, “I went to an out of state university with 4 other people from my school. However, camp made the transition so much easier. Greystone has a community that reaches far wide outside of just Tuxedo. Moving to a new state, I didnt know many people, however everywhere I looked, camp was there…. Camp helped me learn how to make a lot of friends when thrown into a new living situation in a new place and that skill helps everyone in college. When you get to college and you ever feel alone, scared, or anxious, the camp community comes through and will help you shine! It’s crazy how helpful camp can be to make strong, reliable, faith-filled friendships in the craziness that is college.”
Away from home, campers have the chance to examine their faith for the first time, and make it their own. With counselors and ministers here to help, they can learn how to read the Bible on their own, or what it looks like to talk to God, or how much they actually enjoy going to church. This foundation lasts for a lifetime, and sets a girl up to continue to grow her faith in college.
Margaret notes that, “camp taught me how important Christian community is and made me crave that in college!”
And Emma states, “Greystone also helped me grow my faith on my own which has been very important being away from home. I have the tools to continue to grow my faith at college on my own and connect with Christian ministries on my campus like RUF.”
The takeaway? We know that the Lord uses our experiences and circumstances to grow us and change us, and camp can be a part of that! The lessons you learn at camp follow you for a lifetime - to college, and into the rest of your life.