Today’s New York Times includes a funny and poignant article about a former, not-so-happy camper, Pamela Paul, Editor of The New York Times Book Review. In Not a Happy Camper, Pamela wonderfully contrasts her unhappy experiences in the late 1970s at four different summer camps with how she expects her daughter to love her forthcoming four weeks away at camp. In spite of loathing each of her summers spent away at camp, Paul understand the power of camp, and that her daughter will probably thrive when she goes away this summer. Citing a study sponsored by the American Camp Association, Paul writes, “Parents and campers alike report that children show significant growth in self-esteem, independence, leadership and friendship. They learned to explore, to be adventurous, to become environmentally aware.”
Although Paul claims to have been miserable during her summers, recounting episodes of Capture The Flag and alleged burglars in her cabin, she is able to grasp how her daughter’s summer will likely be joyful and transformative, “I have the distinct feeling my daughter will like sleep-away camp very much, just as she liked day camp.”
At each of our six camps and programs, directors and their staff work hard to ensure that each camper and participant is happy. Some campers take longer to get there than others, and we have a handful of plaintive letters home during the first week of the summer, begging for an early exit. But with a healthy dose of Success Counseling, each camper can find their summer rhythm and joy. We pride ourselves on helping each camper happily achieve their “best summer ever.”
Pamela Paul wraps up her article saying, “If I did it all over again, I might get it right. Maybe I’ll spend my summer writing plangent letters to my daughter begging for details. Perhaps we should plan an extended visit mid-July to absorb the experience in full. Anyone up for family camp next summer?” Parents like Paula are exactly who we had in mind when we created Ohana Family Camp, giving former unhappy campers a second chance at a happy summer camp experience.