The experiential classroom: Camp
Generations of America's children have attended camp. The iconic imagery of campfires, s'mores and tents has been part of the collective psyche for nearly 150 years.
But there is much more to a camp experience than songs, marshmallows and mosquito repellant. Camp is a classroom - teaching life lessons through art, music, sports and a host of other activities.
Camp as an extension of a traditional education is not a new or novel concept. Early pioneers in camp consisted largely of educators who recognized a need to continue learning throughout the summer in an environment that also allowed children to be children. In a 1928 Redbook Magazine editorial, camp advocate Frederick Guggenheimer stated that, "The school and the camp are complementary to each other - the one begins where the other leaves off."
Today's camp experience is no less educational than the camp experiences of old. In fact, camp is comprised almost entirely of "teachable moments" - moments when children are actively engaged and using creativity and cognitive skills. Because of the "hands on" nature of camp, often even children who struggle in traditional educational settings will excel.
Through a camp experience, generations of America's children have been receiving a life education - developing the skills needed to become secure, contributing, successful adults. Although the desks may be absent, nature becomes the classroom. Camp remains one of the most powerful learning environments and is a critical part of educating the whole child.
The American Camp Association (ACA) works to preserve, promote and enhance the camp experience for children and adults. ACA-accredited camp programs ensure that children are provided with a diversity of educational and developmentally challenging learning opportunities. There are over 2,400 ACA-accredited camps that meet up to 300 health and safety standards. For more information, visit www.ACAcamps.org.