One of my favorite memories from my childhood is riding my bike with all the neighborhood kids. My little brother and I would meet up with the other kids and head off to explore the world around us. There weren’t any parent chaperones but everyone in the neighborhood looked out for us. We didn’t have cell phones but we always made it home by dinnertime. Our parents trusted us to make good choices and avoid doing anything dangerous or that would get us in trouble.
Riding my bike is a fun childhood memory but as an adult I realize that it was more than just an enjoyable pastime. Riding bikes was an important part of my growth and development. I gained a sense of independence and learned how to make choices. I developed problem solving skills conflict resolution and the ability to communicate. I matured and grew in confidence.
It hasn’t been that long since I was a kid but times have changed. Children do not have the independence that I experienced. Organized play dates carpools cell phones- children are closely supervised in a world that is no longer safe enough to set them free with the “be home by dark” rule of the past. So the question is: where are they learning the life skills that we used to learn riding bikes?
The answer- at camp! At Catholic Youth Camp everything we do is with the intention of teaching kids life skills. Campers live together in cabins building relationships communicate compromise manage conflict and work together as a team. Activities give kids the opportunity to learn new skills problem solve and think critically. Being away from home for the week allows kids to learn to make choices be independent and grow in confidence. A week at camp is more than just entertainment it is life changing.
“Life changing” is a significant claim. But each summer we get feedback from kids and parents telling us stories of how a week at CYC made a difference. 2011 camper Jenny said “I’ve never been away from home by myself for that long. I was nervous about leaving my family. But when I got to camp I made lots of friends learned how to dance and slept in a tent for the first time. I left camp feeling really proud of myself and I realized I was a lot stronger than I had thought.”
With so many summer programs and activities to choose from I often hear from parents who are unsure if they can also afford a week of camp. But camp is an investment in the future. If a child isn’t able to ride his bike in the neighborhood where is he going to develop the life skills he will use for the rest of his life?
Catholic Youth Camp is waiting for your child! We hope to see you this summer!!