- Overnight CampSANTA CRUZ MOUNTAINS
- Overnight CampHUNTINGTON LAKE
- Day CampSANTA CRUZ MOUNTAINS
- Family CampSANTA CRUZ MOUNTAINS
I still remember my first night at summer camp. I was petrified. What if nobody in my cabin liked me? What if I had to talk in front of everyone? What if—heaven forbid—I was a terrible hiker? They seem like such small fears now, but when I was a ten-year-old girl, they were everything. I had been too shy to say much more than “hi” to my new bunkmates, so at the dining hall that night, I had no idea where to sit. I felt lost. Just as I was starting to panic, I heard someone call my name. “Hey! Hannah!” It was Jeanine, a girl in my group. She made some space for me at the table. “That’s my brother,” she said, pointing to a kid gesticulating wildly a couple tables down. “Just ignore him. He acts like he’s Batman or something. Do you want some of my potatoes?”
That’s how our friendship started: with Batman (and potatoes). It continued with late-night ghost stories (Jeanine took the bunk next to mine), early morning circle-ups (we were always, always late), and, eventually, a short backpacking trip into the redwoods (where we found out that I was not, in fact, a terrible hiker). But I’ll never forget that first day because it was the first time that someone I saw as a peer had made me feel important. Later, when I told her how nervous I’d been, she told me that she’d wanted to be kind to me because another camper had been kind to her, and once I knew that, it became a circle of kindness that I was eager to pay forward.
Summer Camp Values: Cooperation, Perseverance, and Community
At its core, that’s what a good summer camp does: it invites us to be kind, it asks us to step out of our comfort zones, and it puts us in constant positions of growth. Challenges such as kayaking in the Elkhorn Slough or horseback riding in Soquel offer a number of opportunities for campers to grow.
The backpacking trip that Jeanine and I went on was formative in that sense: we spent several days trundling around the redwood forest with the rest of our group and our trip leader, totally removed from life as we knew it. It was a huge challenge for a kid who’d never camped in her life, but I’m glad that I met it, and here are a few of the reasons why.
What Summer Camp Is Really About
When I started out on my camp journey many years ago, I knew very little about what it meant to go to summer camp. But now that I’m sending my own children on their camp journeys, I know that it’s about friendship, integrity, leadership, and a horde of other character-building qualities, qualities that camp staff modelled for my group and me from the get-go. That’s what summer camp’s about—not sports or crafts or campfires. As I get ready to send my own campers off for their first year, I’m excited for the things they’ll learn, friends they’ll make, and all of the ways in which they’ll grow.
Kennolyn Camps offers residential and day programs for kids in grades K–9, and a wide range of creative and outdoor activities give kids chances to grow. Reach out to us today to explore how our camps can guide your child on a fun summer in community.