An In-Person, Real-Life Community
by Stacey Seeger, Director of Development
If you have made the iconic drive down the hill flanked by greenery into River Village, you have likely experienced the impact of Camp Tecumseh. Maybe you personally experienced the love and community that shines from a cabin group as they cheer you on as you climb the rock wall for the first time. Maybe you witnessed a change in your child after they spent a week in an environment intentionally built for community, authenticity, and growth. Maybe you gave your heart and soul to 10 campers each week for a summer as a counselor where you learned more about yourself and your abilities than you did during all of college. If you had one of these or a thousand other experiences, you know that Camp Tecumseh makes an impact.
We often talk about how camp is a lot more than fun. Yes, a camp experience is very fun, but to truly describe a Camp Tecumseh experience, you need to talk about the long-lasting feelings and experiences. Camp is about meeting new people, trying new skills, and feeling comfortable to let down your guard and open your heart.
My own memories of camp are full of the stories of how I met lifelong friends, like cabin mates playing chubby bunny with Twinkies while we waited out the rainstorm. We know better than that now. Sixteen years later, one of those cabin mates is a very close friend of mine. We saw each other just yesterday and though we have evolved from stuffing our faces with Twinkies to discussing life with young children, our friendship still has the fundamentals of honesty and trust that we learned at Camp.
In so many ways, 2020 feels like a year without. The list of withouts is different for everyone, but seems to have some length to it for most of us. And it truly broke all of our hearts to add to that list when we made the decision to cancel summer camp for 2020. As a former camper myself, I think about the pain and loss our campers must have felt with a summer missed at camp. Kids were experiencing canceled school, sports, performing arts, and vacations. No summer camp was the icing on the very inedible cake.
As people who likely shared in the camp experience, you – like me – know kids need camp now more than ever. They need community, outdoor adventure, a detox from technology, and above all else, to know they are lovable and capable.
“Kids were experiencing canceled school, sports, performing arts, and vacations. No summer camp was the icing on the very inedible cake.”
Kids need an in-person, real-life, not-through-a-screen community. A community of support and encouragement where authenticity comes easily because no one is quick to judge. So many campers and former campers talk about feeling safe and secure enough to put aside the idea they need to be anything other than their true self. Camp is a place where genuine connection is inspired by leaders who intentionally plan activities that are fun but leave room for conversation. Friendship bracelet time isn’t just about the bracelet but more so about the connection that was made between cabin mates over their shared interests and life experiences. This kind of true community cannot be had through screens. Social media and online school are not the breeding grounds for positive, uplifting friendships.
Kids need outdoor adventure and exploration. When you are out in nature, it can often feel like an escape from the realities of the world. Without quoting an exact study or scientist, I’m pretty confident there is plenty of research on the benefits of fresh air and exercise and, my, do we have an abundance of that at Camp. The ability to try something very different than your normal activities at home, like caring for an alpaca, or going on a mud hike, or climbing the giant’s ladder, brings on endorphins that send a message to the brain that I am happy and I am capable.
Kids need camp now more than ever. They need to learn through trial and error that their faults can also be what makes them strong. At Camp Tecumseh, kids are shown through the love and light of role models that they have a God that loves them no matter what.
And of course, kids are in need of fun. A dedicated time to be silly, to laugh, to play, and to put aside what feels like adult responsibilities.
Stacey’s first camp experience was Family Camp when she was 7. She then participated in our Outdoor Education program in 3rd grade, and attended summer camp for 6 years. She worked as a counselor for 4 years, and joined the full time staff in 2012.