Maria Miller is a CYO Girls Camper with a passion for camp and a sweet personality.
I met up with Maria, her cabin-mates, and counselors on August 7th at CYO Girls Camp. It was a hot, sticky day (some would say uncharacteristically so this summer). It was hot, but Maria and her cabin mates were in good spirits as they tackled the task of cooking campfire chili for lunch on the beach.
Q: Maria, I’ve heard you’ve been to CYO camp a few times now. How long have you been coming to camp?
A: A couple of years, and this is my second time this summer. I love it.
Q: What are your favorite activities at Girls Camp?
A: I love to play gaga ball. Another game I really like is nucome. You play it over a volleyball net but it has different rules. I like that you can play with a little or a lot of people and no one is really left out.
My third favorite is Arts and Crafts. Lanyards are fun to do anywhere when you have free time.
Q: Where do you go to school and what grade are you in?
A: I go to Linden Middle School. I’m going into 8th grade.
Q: So what do you like most about coming to camp?
A: All the fun I have and the friends I make. I try and invite other friends to come to camp but they are too busy so I just come alone. I like making new friends.
Q: How does camp change you?
A: I know I am getting closer to God.
Q: So what’s something that you’ve learned at camp that you can take home with you?
A: That I’m getting closer to God and that it doesn’t matter what people think of you, it only matters what God thinks. I am more confident.
Q: Do you think you’ll come back next summer?
A: I really want to and I hope I can.
Q: What’s something that you will tell another girl about CYO Camp that’s never been to camp before?
A: That’s it’s a lot of fun and the counselors are really there for you. You get to do a lot of cool things and make friends.
Allowing kids to play in an unstructured, natural atmosphere is a valuable component in any camp program.
According to Tom Jacobs' article, The Value of Unstructured Playtime for Kids, "Free play allows children to develop the flexibility needed to adapt to changing circumstances and environments—an ability that comes in very handy when life becomes unpredictable as an adult."
Free unstructured play helps children build a wide range of skills necessary for success in school and out, from making friends and negotiating to problem solving, thinking creatively, and practicing self control. Parents that send their kids to camp are take a solid step to ensure that they have plenty of time to get out there and play, especially during the more leisurely summer months.
Here's How We Do it at Camps Connect
What Kids Can Learn
The advantages your child gains from play may seem a mystery when he's tearing through the yard with sticks in hand, but he's growing in mind, body, and spirit by leaps and bounds:
Character virtues. Children develop a unique sense of resiliency from being creative. While finishing a stick tower, for example, they may encounter a moment when the tower refuses to stand. It may even topple a few times. By trying again and again, kids learn about perseverance and gain courage and confidence in their own problem-solving abilities.
Social skills. Research shows that make-believe games provide kids with opportunities to learn about group dynamics. Give kids of almost any age a ball and a few miscellaneous objects for instance, and they'll create their own game, and in the process hone their ability to collaborate, cooperate, lead, empathize, and control impulses.
Physical development. Babies learn how to crawl, to stand, and eventually to walk. You watched your preschooler figure out how to hang from the first rung on the monkey bars (with perhaps a boost from you), and then work his way on his own to the second rung and the third, and so on, as he also builds up his physical development with strength, coordination, competence, and sense of body awareness in space. Given the space and time of free-play in a camp environment children hone those large and fine motor skills while sifting through sand for seashells, practice shooting hoops, or blowing bubbles.
Self-discovery. Kids need time to be kids — to write, think, dream, draw, build, dance, fantasize. That's how they discover their likes and dislikes. Be sure to allow your child this special kid time.
Creativity. Above all, creative play is a simple joy that is a cherished part childhood. Creativity in adults is highly valued in our society. Personal creativity contributes to inventiveness, innovation, social and cultural change. The creative child is an innovator, a problem solver, an entrepreneur, an artist. Allowing children the opportunity for creativity help them to achieve their life goals as adults and teach them to enjoy the journey. After all, where else can you be the mud queen?
To learn more about our summer camp, outdoor education programs, and rental opportunities visit us at www.campsconnect.org
ANNA BLACK MORIN, Camp Director of Pine Forest Camp in Greeley, PA recently received national attention when she wrote about the truths she's learned about being a fourth-generation camp director, new mom, and the incredible things that kids are learning at camp. Written with her wit and wisdom, by asking your camper a few leading questions you can discover how camp has given your child independence, resilience, and confidence.
Morin's article is a great resource for parents so much so that we want to share it with you. We also encourage you to ask your camper these leading questions, to discover just how powerfully they have changed with the light of Christ.
What's One thing you learned about God that you can apply at home?
When we meet Jesus, not only does He change our present, He changes our future.Sometimes life leaves us in confusion - head down, discouraged, and without hope. The pressures that kids face today can make the dreams of becoming something or someone great seem so distant. When you fan the flame of what your child has learned about God at camp you give them an encouraging reminder that they can shine!
What has God taught you about the truth of who you are?
Everyone loves a good story.
Gripping stories can launch us to the edge of our seat championing for the underdog to win the big game. Then, bring us to tears when injustice befalls the innocent. And then sigh with contentment when everything turns out alright in the end. God has a purpose for your child's story. In Mark 4:21-34, Jesus reminds us of the power He has given us in our personal story. It echoes the purpose for the light He has given us - to shine!
How can you let your light shine?
See the theme here? Asking your child how they can apply the theme of summer camp to their life at home reminds them of who they were at camp.... the courageous song leader, the supportive cabin-mate to a homesick friend, the star of the stage, the camper praised for helping others, or the camper who conquered their fears on the high ropes course. The identity that kids earn at camp gives them the opportunity to become the best, happiest, truest version of themselves as they rejoice in the reality of who God created them to be!
When we ask our kids about camp and how it has changed their life, we are sharing more than words - we’re sharing the most valuable gift, the Gospel!
The Journey -About Us
THE JOURNEY journals our Camps Connect story. Camps Connect is a summer camp for boys, girls, and co-ed programs, a family
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Together we can change a child's life.
On life's journey it's nice to connect: Camps Connect!