Every summer teams of Tips on Trips and Camps advisors go camp visiting. It is an opportunity to see camps in action so that the advice on camps that we share with families is current and relevant to the overnight camp selection process.
By all accounts I am a relatively conservative type A kind of person, and how I found myself at the top of the flying trapeze at one of the camps in Pennsylvania is one of those moments of acting before thinking.
But there I was, 50 feet in the air, terrified and standing on a small plank clinging to the circus camp counselor who was both half my age and half my size, and telling him there must be some other way of getting down rather than swinging from the trapeze and then dropping into the net. My knees were shaking badly and the counselor was encouraging me to release the death grip I had on his arm and just hold the trapeze bar. After much coaxing and ultimately his pushing me off the plank, I was swinging through the air. I was too frightened to really enjoy myself, but felt exhilarated that I had conquered this incredible challenge.
Summer Camp presents kids with challenges at every turn. Be it climbing to the top of the wall at rock climbing camps, hitting a home run at baseball camps, mounting a horse for the first time at horseback riding camps, singing a solo at a performing arts camp, or simply sleeping away from home at traditional sleep away camps. All these experiences can feel as frightening as standing on top of that circus trapeze and all offering the satisfaction of doing something outside a child’s every day experience, and succeeding. Sleep away camps provide an environment where a child can feel secure and challenged at the same time. It is at camp with counselors who have the expertise and skill to create a safe environment that kids are willing to push boundaries and try new things.
I will never forget my trapeze ride. Given the chance I would have tried it a second time and been a little less afraid and a little more able. Camp creates these kinds of memories and opportunities to learn new skills, over and over again.