Home Community Middle School: an ideal time to attend an overnight camp

Middle School: an ideal time to attend an overnight camp

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By Lisa Handelman, Camp Director, Capital Camps

Is it an exciting time for overnight camps as the number of 2nd through 5th grade enrollments is skyrocketing.

At the same time, we, at Capital Camps, are hearing from our current 6th, 7th and 8th grade campers that some of their peers have never gone to camp, are reluctant to leave home, and perhaps they missed their camp calling due to the pandemic.

From our perspective, it’s not too late AND it is especially important for this group of young adolescents who need our guidance to find their way to an overnight camp.  Dr. Deborah Gilboa, Family Physician and Resilience Expert, talks frequently about the power of a Jewish overnight camp experience to help children grow and develop. She has shared how camp makes it fun to learn independence and how living with cool counselors or “near-peer mentors” provides the ideal environment to develop resilience.

Current Middle School students were 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders when the pandemic closed most camps. This experience interfered with the opportunity to develop academic, social-emotional, and age-appropriate life skills.

Middle Schoolers need to put down their phones and spend time outdoors. They need to swim in the pool, jump in the lake, engage in sports for fun, dance, sing, and create art.

Middle School-age campers are also ready for more complex experiences including problem solving, trust building, and teamwork–like they do in our field games and at low and high ropes courses. In addition, a Jewish overnight camp like Capital Camps provides the foundation for each camper to take ownership of their own Jewish journey.

 

This is especially critical during the years right before, during, and after a camper’s Bar/Bat Mitzvah year, through peer relationship building and “near-peer” mentorship.

During a recent school visit, one young man pointed to his friend and commented, “He isn’t going to camp; he’s not ready to leave home.”

It is our job to find these kids and with a little help from parents, teachers, and camp professionals, help them explore how Middle School is an optimal entry point for overnight camp.