July 1, 2016

Life Skills Learned at Camp

Life Skills Learned at Camp, By James Hilliard, Gilmont’s Executive Director

What are kids learning and experiencing at Gilmont this summer?  Let’s take a look!

“I think the single most important thing camp teaches children is to be independent,” longtime camper parent shares. While a majority of children who attend camp experience homesickness in some form or another, camp provides a safety net that allows them to navigate decision-making processes, discover likes and dislikes and gain the ability to become a confident, self-aware community member.

With that newfound sense of independence, your kids may even (gasp!) gain a sense of appreciation for you and all of the things you do that may have otherwise gone unnoticed. Now that your child has to make his bed, tidy his room and take turns doing different chores around camp with the other kids, it may dawn on him that you’re the one taking care of this stuff, and help him appreciate these things more deeply upon returning home.

Each week campers come from all walks of life and enter into an East Texas Ecosystem.  What does that mean? It means that for 7 days and 6 nights in the out of doors, campers are learning what is safe and what to watch out for in the woods.  They also learn about God’s creation and how each piece has a purpose and works together in the greater system.  As good stewards, our kids learn “the only thing we leave in the forest is our footprints.”

New Skills
Camp is a safe place for campers to stretch comfort zones, and sometimes fail!  For some campers, this is a big step. An activity might be fun for one camper, while frustrating for the next. Interpersonal skills are nurtured as campers get over their frustrations.  They learn what it takes to build relationships, problem solve as individuals, as well as in a group, and practice effective communication.

At the heart of camp is building courage.  How hard is it for us, no matter our age, to spend time away for a week? The absence of the familiar can be a bit overwhelming. Not only do campers go away for a week, they are thrown into a family group of mostly strangers and learn to start working in community to build one another up.  They learn how to try new things and take risks in a safe and nurturing environment.

Being an active participant in a community is a genuine life lesson learned at camp. Camp teaches children that they can build a supportive family of friends on their own, without relying on their parents.