Day Hikes

Great Parents

It was my first time at a sleep away camp, and I’m sure it will change my life forever.
-Zakai, 2012 Camper

 “You’re sending Sophia to camp for TWO WEEKS?”

Shock is a common response camp parents get when discussing summer camp plans with other parents. Some people even infer that we are “bad parents” to allow our children out from under our direct supervision.  In this “helicopter” parenting age, the thought of allowing an eight year old to go away to camp for two weeks is incomprehensible to people who don’t understand the value of camp.  What these “non-camp” parents don’t know is that allowing your child a camp experience is a gift that has positive, life-long benefits beyond learning how to sail or rock climb. Camp parents aren’t bad parents who “send their children away.” Instead, we are great parents who let our children spread their wings!

While disconnecting from technology, campers learn to relate better to other people, face to face, without headphones on or a cell phone in hand. Campers experience a break from the pressures of academics, competitive sports, and overscheduled lives. One camper said about her time at camp, “I don’t go through the pressures that are in the ‘real world’.”

Gaining a love and respect for nature, experiencing fun, bonding time with others, and improved independence and responsibility skills are just a few of the many benefits of a camp experience. Further, camp experiences at younger ages may help children adjust to later experiences, such as going away to college.

Here are some of our 2012 campers’ responses to the question, “What did you learn at camp?”

I learned…

…that being really, really scared is all right as long as you try.

…to thank people who help you out.  Isaac

…to be more social, and I tested my strength a lot and tried more things.  Aubree

…to be thankful for the great opportunities of trying new thins and exploring new places.  In addition, I learned to be thankful for my parents for giving me these opportunities.  Jake

…to be a better person at camp and learned to do so many new things.  Emma

…about trust, gratitude, friendship, boats, capsizing, and horses.  Mia

…to be more clean and organized.  Javier

…to be more outgoing.  Contessa

…to be more independent.  Patrick

…how to make friends with anyone.  Brooklyn

…how to ride a bike, make friends easily, and to be myself.  Megan

…to not use electronics, to make new friends, and to have fun.  Irene

…I got better at sharing.  Adlai

…to accept others for who they are.  Cassandra

…that even if something is hard, keep tryingMason

…to try everythingChase

…manners.  Cole

…how to let go of my insecuritiesPaige

…the skill of perseverance.  Like on the Big Swing – I was nervous but I persevered and pulled the string.  Elizabeth

…that if you are very high, don’t look down.  Keaton

…how to take on my fearsMax

…to always accept people and let other people share their opinions and ideas.  Charlotte

…there is always something to be grateful for. Patrick

Categories: Being Positive, Benefits of Camp, Campfire, Community, Councelors, Day Hikes, Fishing, Friendship, Fun, GAC, Kids, Kindness, Last Child in the Woods, Parents, Raising Happiness, Self-Esteem, Social Skills, Team Building, Tradition, Whadda Whadda Whadda | 1 Comment

Backpacking Trips at GAC

“The future will belong to the nature-smart—those individuals, families, businesses, and political leaders who develop a deeper understanding of the transformative power of the natural world and who balance the virtual with the real.  The more high-tech we become, the more nature we need.” —Richard Louv

GAC is unique among camps in offering our young campers the chance to hike, explore, and camp out in the wilderness.  We are surrounded by beautiful trails and lakes in the John Muir and Kaiser wilderness areas.  Depending on their age and ability, campers enjoy non-strenuous trips ranging from two to four miles one-way.  Games are played along the way, and the pace is slow.  Campers have fun trail mix (with chocolate!) and water bottles for snacking and drinking as they hike.

Once at their camp sites, campers play, help cook dinner over the campfire, and get to experience living in nature.  They also have a lot of free play and exploring time.  Many forts and structures are built out of sticks and pine cones!  Many kids are hesitant about backpacking, because they don’t think carrying a pack sound like fun.  But, over and over, we have heard campers recall their backpacking trip as one of their favorite camp memories.

Back in the 1960s and 1970s, when all GAC campers attended camp for a month, backpacking trips were longer.  We are still committed to getting kids out in nature even when they’re only with us for two weeks.   We will continue to teach campers about how fun it is to be in nature, because we know the positive life-long impact a love of nature can have.  We hear from many past campers asking for advice about where to backpack in this area, because they have fond memories of their GAC backpacking trips.

Categories: Backpacking, Benefits of Camp, Campfire, Communication, Councelors, Day Hikes, Friendship, Fun, GAC, Self-Esteem, Social Skills | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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