Guest Post by Peter Kassen, Hidden Valley Camp
My wife and I mourned. After we had taken in the news from Newtown, once we had saturated ourselves with news reports, after we had talked with our children, cried a little bit more, after we attended a service to try to make sense out of all this with our neighbors, after all this, we asked ourselves, “What next? What can we do?”
We prepared to make donations to the folks in Connecticut. We posted encouraging messages to campers, parents and staff. And then, thinking as camp directors, we recalled what President Obama said as he memorialized these beautiful 1st graders, that as we raise our children,
“…we learn that our most important job is to give them what they need to become self-reliant and capable and resilient…
“…And we know…this job of keeping our children safe and teaching them well is something we can only do together, with the help of friends and neighbors, the help of a community….”
Good camps are dedicated to this mission. Summer camp supports a child’s most essential work, that of creating an independent identity. A good camp helps a child to build on the values and sense of self developed at home. Supported by wise resourceful adults, children forge friendships, acquire skills of which they can be proud, and ultimately learn what makes them tick, discovering strengths and overcoming challenges.
But time at camp does more than this. Camps provide a gift as they send children home to their families, schools, teams and neighborhoods. When they return to the “real world” it is our hope that children possess an even greater capacity to live and work and play in groups and a deeper commitment to the good that groups large and small can create. In this way, camps support true citizenship.
This is what we can do…Create a context in which each child knows he or she truly matters. Support a diverse environment in which children learn about the wider world. And remind young people that their success and well-being are intertwined with that of others. As our daughter said – angered after a day of sad news from Newtown – “I’m tired of all this ‘survival of the fittest.’ It used to be that we were all in this together.”
So, in the aftermath of this tragedy, let’s be in this together. Right off, let’s all contribute to the changes that we know must occur to protect our children, agreeing to de-stigmatize mental illness and to limit access to weapons designed solely to kill human beings.
And we must continue to nurture essential values of community. In this season of light, let’s remember our summer lights, the fireflies of course and the constellations, and especially the campfires, around which we all sit, singing sometimes, talking about our time as a group and acknowledging what we have come to know as the truth of our summer time together: that we could not have succeeded without the others reflected in the fire’s glow.
Talk to Laurie, our Maine Campcierge™, about choosing the right camp for your child and what to do in Maine.