The Importance of Summer Camp
Summer camp provides a unique opportunity for kids to get away from their screens and couches, to leap from the sedentary to the active world, and to engage with the physical universe. They also provide some of our most beloved memories, another reason why we have collected these options of local summer camps for you to send your children to. At each one your child will learn and grow, just like we did back in the days when we fit into a kids’ size life vest.
The Go-Away Camp
By J.P. Faber
When I was a kid, my parents would send my brother and I to camp for two weeks each summer. We went to a place in Great Barrington, Massachusetts called Camp Half Moon. It was classic camp — on a lake amid rolling wooded hills, where the kids slept in bunkbed cabins and did all sorts of outdoor activities. Our camp had an underlying theme of the Native American, with archery and canoeing and handmade crafts. The entire camp “tribe” assembled for huge bonfires, ignited by a single flaming arrow shot from the woods (it was attached with eyehooks to a wire so it couldn’t miss). I wore a feather in my headband and wanted to be an “Indian” more than anything in the world.
As politically incorrect as my summer camp experience may appear from today’s vantage point, it did teach me two things. As a city child, it exposed me to the deep, green joy of the great out-of-doors. I felt closer to the earth and nature than I ever had — like seeing a full starry sky for the first time.
I also learned the lesson my parents wanted to impart: how to be okay on my own without them nearby, to develop a sense of myself. For us kids it was a little like going to boot camp: We were each issued a trunk for our t-shirts, sneakers, underwear, and comic books, and our identities were defined by our gear and how we adapted to the daily regimen.
It was an excellent experience in self growth. Only later did I learn that our parents really just wanted a place to park us while they took road trips through Europe.
The At-Home Camp
By Kylie Wang
What could be more Miami than spending summer camp at the beach? As a Gables kid, my parents signed me up for various local camps, but the one I kept coming back to year after year was the Summer by the Sea Art & Science Day Camp at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Biscayne Nature Center. Located at Crandon Park on Key Biscayne, the camp was a nonstop bonanza of beach and ocean-related activities like snorkeling, kayaking, dissecting squid, and exploring the environment and its creatures.
On sunny days, we’d slog down to the beach or ride out to the mangroves to collect mini shrimp and pea puffer fish from the seaweed, learning about each animal and plant we came across. We’d take trips to Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park to play on the beach or rent kayaks and learn how to work in tandem, collecting our first sunburns – not that we ever cared. On rainy days, we’d explore the Center’s exhibits, like the touch tank, where we held spiny sea urchins in our hands for the first time. We’d ooh and ah over the bones of animals from the Bear Cut Preserve and learn how to identify turtles by shell patterns. With the innocence that comes with the childhood inability to be disgusted, we’d do and touch anything our camp counselors let us.
Summer after summer, I returned to Key Biscayne with a full bottle of sunscreen and a change of clothes, excited to see what new activity each day would hold. Seven hours later, I’d be picked up by my mother, sweaty, tanned, and teeming with excitement as I related the day’s adventure to her.