Journal

Do You Miss Summer Camp?

As an adult do you miss being a kid? Do your kids miss being kids? Is it hard to laugh, play and have fun outside? This year a challenge is that there will be no regular summer camp. But don’t worry you can do some camp things at home!

Let me tell you something important! Ladies and gentlemen, children and youth of all ages, cultures and orientations! Also, kids that are a little diverse, a little hyper, a little funny or learn in different ways and for kids with different gender identities! Kids in wheelchairs, living with cerebral palsy, or crutches or with illnesses. Genius kids and artistic kids. All kids are special so listen, learn and lip-sync!

My name is Melanie Knapp. While I was at University of Waterloo I directed a summer camp called Presqu’ile YMCA Rotary Youth Camp on the shores of the beautiful Georgian Bay waters.

Watching pretty green frogs, skipping smooth stones, sitting in the quiet woods are delightful experiences. Whether you’ve been to camp or not you may enjoy this piece of writing. What do you do when you miss summer camp?

At camp there sometimes are canoe games, swim relays and soccer-baseball. When I was at camp there were places to laugh, learn and listen. There was time to be quiet or loud in nature too.

During the day there were fun activities and at night a camp-fire that helped us wind down. We sang songs like Fire’s Burning:

“Fire’s Burning, Fire’s Burning, Draw Nearer, Draw Nearer, In the Gloaming, In the Gloaming, Come Sing and Be Merry. “ (gloaming means in the dusk or early evening)

As the day ended stories of our favourite activities and friendship connections rang through the nice evening air. The counselors especially felt like they were part of something tremendous.

Now what do we do without regular summer camp this year? Is camp unique in its excellence? Whether you’ve been to camp or not, here are some ideas to fill the long days of summer. Maybe you can bring the spirit of camp to your daily life!

SINGING CAN CHEER YOU UP: Number one and most important is to sing. Singing helps to cheer up any cloudy day. Here’s a camp favourite which we sang before meals:

“Oh the Lord is good to me and so I thank the Lord for giving me the things I need, the sun and the rain and the apple tree, the Lord is good to me – Johnny Apple Seed – Amen.”

You can sing this song at home too. Some people that sing it say, Oh the Earth is good to me, and other people say, Oh the Lord is good to me. It depends on what you are comfortable singing.

Another grace I have loved through the years when I missed summer camp is:

“The eagles thank the earth for the mountains, the fish thank the earth for the sea and we thank the earth for our blessings and for what we’re about to receive.”

Once again, you could say thank the Lord, or thank the earth, it depends on what you are comfortable singing. Both the earth and the Lord can give great comfort to people. I know I have felt the comfort of the earth and the Lord. When you miss summer camp I know there can be tears, or sadness or feelings like crying. There can be hum drum hours. There can be rainy days. Maybe this grace can help you feel better.

It’s nice to sing grace at camp with a mixture of ages altogether. Maybe this year is different. Maybe brothers and sisters of all ages can sing or even say it together at home this year. When I feel sad because I miss camp singing these graces makes me smile, laugh and enjoy my life again.

USING THE GOOD IMAGINATION: Over the years I’ve missed the imagination we had in our camp activities. At camp we did things together and that was so much fun to be together!

We had special days like Dr. Seuss Day and Scientist Day. These themes took us through the day with stories, songs, costumes and special dinners like eating green eggs and ham.

At home this summer try using some colours: in pictures, with cards and in food. Yes you got it…. Even in food! A little food colouring makes pretty designs. A little drop of colour in cake, cookies, and macaroni… can be fun. But remember one little drop goes a long way!

CHRISTMAS IN JULY: You know how you can make coloured Easter Eggs for Easter well how about making homemade presents for Christmas in July? You could put little homemade gifts in a sock. You could have enough socks for all the kids in your family and maybe even for the parent(s), grandparent(s), foster parent(s) or step parent(s). For Christmas on July 25th look in your socks for Christmas presents and have a little snack of a cookie and juice.

At summer camp when we had Christmas in July there were 70 people including the counselors and the kids. We made homemade gifts to exchange and all 70 kids received a Christmas present. There were wood signs, pictures, bracelets and more. That was a great summer Christmas celebration!

“You better watch out
You better not cry
You better not pout
I’m telling you why
Santa Claus is coming to town

He’s making a list
He’s checking it twice
He’s gonna find out who’s naughty or nice
Santa Claus is coming to town”

CRAFTS AT HOME: The dollar store is still open. They have colouring books, blank cards, wooden beads, paints, popsicle sticks, plastic flowers, games and fun little balls. Get a few supplies. They go a long way!

Now that is something I miss! The craft cabin! We made painted pet rocks, popsicle stick houses and beaded bracelets and had fun with gimp! Gimp is a plastic lace used to make nice bracelets.

I want to tell you… take it step by step and make some things at home this summer. Camp is so special but being at home can be nice too. It might not be that great at first. Try and be patient! After you get used to it you may find that making things at home makes you happy too.

Work on a clear table. Wash your hands before and after. And make something cool or pretty to enjoy. Don’t worry about making something perfect. When you make something it’s special just because you are making it. Make something for a sibling, a friend, a neighbour or a parent. It’s nice to give a gift to someone and hear them say thank you smile or enjoy your creative crafts.

Some simple supplies to start with are crayons, markers, scotch tape, a ruler and paper. Later you can add stickers, sparkles and wool. You may need a big person to help with the scissors.

SCAVENGER HUNT: If you need something else to do here is a great idea. Try a scavenger hunt. A scavenger hunt is great fun! You get a piece of paper and make a list. Then you look for the things on the list and check them off when you have found them. On your list you may have a pine cone, a piece of cedar, a stone shaped like a heart, a stick that looks like a Y or a coloured rock. Use this list or make your own and find the things on the list. A scavenger hunt is special to do in your own backyard. It’s really a learning experience to see what you can find there! Nature is plentiful!

So you see there are things you can do when you miss summer camp. Even if you’ve never been there you can have fun singing or making crafts. Having fun is nice but sometimes doing things quietly is a good change!

If you still miss the joy and friendship of camp. I understand. I’ve missed it too for many years. I looked up some friends from camp and wrote letters and e-mails. This helped me feel better and they wrote back and that was nice.

CAMPSICK INSTEAD OF HOMESICK: Just like when you are homesick at camp and you write your family, now you are camp sick at home so you can write letters to your camp friends, counselors, lifeguards, cooks, directors. Even if you don’t mail the letters to them you can send a positive thought as you write the letter and it may cheer them up in some way. And that could make you smile to remember your camp friends! I found the address of a camp friend and wrote him a letter. I felt a lot better. He wrote me back and now we are pen-pals.

At the end of the day we sometimes sang:

“Day is done, gone the sun

From the lakes, from the hills, from the sky

All is well, safely rest;

God is nigh!”

“THANKS FOR THE DAY CAMPERS!”

By Melanie Knapp – Camp Director Presqu’ile 92,93

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