Why Summer Camp?
Some questions and answers from
Steve Purdum, Mishawaka owner and director
As a former Mishawaka camper, I used to take for granted that the benefits of a traditional summer camp were obvious. My experience here helped me in so many ways, from exposing me to activities not available in the cornfields of Illinois, to giving me skills to thrive in a college environment. It may sound trite, but I don’t think a day goes by that I don’t draw on my experiences here as a camper. Many of my closest and dearest friends are ones I met here at Mishawaka.
Short of sending them off to college, sending children to camp is perhaps one of the largest ‘leaps of faith’ a parent can make. This point was driven home to me not so long ago when I held our newborn daughter for the first time. I turned to my wife, Julie, and said, “You mean people send these off to camp?” When the time comes, I know we will want to send our children to a place we feel confident they will be safe and supported, and whose administration and staff shares our values.
To that end, I thought it might be helpful to share a little more about the idea of summer camp, as well as Mishawaka’s goals and program. I am always happy to talk with you as you finalize your summer plans, or put you in touch with campers or parent in your area. I am also more than happy to refer you to another program that fits your needs if Camp Mishawaka is not a match.
There are a variety of reasons why parents send their children off to camp, but perhaps the American Camp Association says it best when they list these four:
• Skill Development
• Work towards a goal
• Experience Success
• Make friends
• Find a role
• Sense of Community
• Learning to make good choices
• See results of decisions
• Identifying strengths
• Receiving positive feedback
• Increased confidence
The ACA accreditation program has a 50 year history and is continually evaluated and updated to reflect the current best practices in camping. At least once every three years an outside team of trained camping professionals observe the camp in action to verify compliance with over 300 standards.
One difference is the broad range of our community, as we draw campers and staff from over 25 states and several different countries. Campers broaden their horizons as they live and play with others from across the country and around the world. Mishawaka offers an experience that many young people do not encounter until their college years or beyond, and one that a local program simply cannot offer.
Of all the ingredients that make up a summer camp– activities, cabins and counselors– we realize that the most important of these is the staff. Our capacity of 80 boys and 80 girls is an ideal size, and staff is able to know each camper on a first-name basis, not just those in their cabin group. Likewise, campers form friendships throughout the whole camp community. The opportunity to develop mentoring relationships is a very special feature of Camp Mishawaka. The quality and dedication of our staff has always been the “Mishawaka Difference.”
There is also a real benefit in the journey to Camp Mishawaka. The beautiful north woods setting offers a wonderful environment in which to learn and play. Mishawaka takes a balanced approached to programming that includes opportunities for fun and instruction. Campers choose from 30 land and water activities, and there is an adventure and challenge for every age and interest.
Physical and emotional safety is our first priority, and necessary for health and happiness. Our campers’ physical and emotional health comes from outdoor activity, good food and rest.
And finally, happiness comes from a sense of community and shared experience, the satisfaction of a job well done, and the joy of being together in the outdoors.