Camp ended a few weeks ago and it always takes a little time to get used to Camp without campers. They’re why we all come to this place – to be a part of the Mishawaka experience and contribute to the joy and growth of each camper.
A few weeks before Camp ended, I hurt my leg and found myself getting around with the aid of a golf cart and crutches. It’s not ideal to be at Camp with limited mobility and it took a few days to adjust to the unusualness. I have always loved the open space of main campus and the accessibility of our cabins and program activities, especially their proximity to Mishawaka’s essential areas. You can learn a lot about Mishawaka and its campers by spending time on the waterfront on a sunny afternoon, watching campers transition from first to second period, or sitting and talking with campers after they’ve dipped in the lake and await their next meal. There’s always a certain sense of joy and contentment for what they have done that day=along with an anticipation for what’s next. It’s seeing summer camp in action.
I was struck by an article I recently read that argued we, as a nation, have eliminated many of the core features of childhood. The author talks about the importance of play in helping children learn (what will later be called) executive function. She also argued that children learn as a collective, with younger kids following the models of older kids, and that we have underestimated the importance of children’s culture. If you were to stop by Camp and sit for a day, you’d see a culture where independence and play are everywhere. With the support of their peers and staff, campers choose which skills to develop and what their Mishawaka experience will be.
Being slowed down at Camp while the campers are in action helped remind me about why I love Mishawaka. The laughter and joy of campers playing outdoors is always invigorating. Campers love to learn and teach each other, all the time. And given opportunities, campers will take appropriate risks and look forward to the challenges. Compared to its first campers 110 years ago, kids do spend more time indoors and have find fewer opportunities for “free play.” Every day, we get to see how this free play supports children’s creative thinking and problem-solving skills. Joy, childhood, and growth are express core values of Camp Mishawaka- and we make sure they are central to every camper’s experience. The article argues that preserving childhood is like preserving an old growth forest- and we are committed to preserving this unique resource.
None of this would be possible without parents who recognize the value of a Camp Mishawaka experience. It’s a big investment they’ve made for their children and we all feel fortunate to be a part of their development. This summer was another testament to the value of summer camp and the importance of childhood – thank you for another wonderful summer at Camp Mishawaka.
See you next summer!
Boys Camp Director