by Missy Schenck
As a single parent in the 80s sending my four children to summer camp was not a line item in my budget. Working at a summer camp and trading my salary for their camp tuition was! I knew that summer camp was critically important to youth development and I was going to find a way to make it happen for my children. It was time to be creative.
For ten years I went away to summer camp with my children. I began as an arts and crafts coordinator and after one year filled the role of Summer Camp Director. My children lived in camper cabins for ten weeks and I bunked with the other senior staff members. I had one electrical socket in the single light bulb in the ceiling of the room, showered in a community shower house and slept on an iron army bunk. All my meals were cooked for me and my laundry went out once a week with the camp service.
The camp community embraced us and life was beyond perfect. I was totally unplugged and I loved every minute of this sanctuary away from the real world. Most of all I loved seeing what a difference camp made in the lives of young people. It was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.
Did you know as GRP camper parents this may be an option for you? Some of our summer staff positions are ones that you as camper parents may be able to fill. Most of our summer camp nurses or doctors are camp parents who come by the camp session and trade their salary for their camper’s tuition. Our “office mom” fills the many gaps in the camp office including sorting camper mail, answering the phone, and hugging homesick campers. Activity coordinators are art teachers, swimming instructors, music teachers, and various other talented people or parents. Mentors, our trained naturalists, may also be parents. This role does have a long learning curve, so the commitment for it is often longer and requires participation in staff training.
Going away to summer camp is not an option for you? Help us recruit campers for summer camp. Become a camp rep for GRP. For each new camper accepted and enrolled at GRP you can earn $100 towards your camper’s tuition. There are many ways you can do this. Keep GRP folders in your car and whenever parents ask about your child’s summer plans, share GRP with them. Host a GRP party at your house, school, or community center. Some of our campers have told us they want to help earn their tuition, too. Let them help you recruit campers. Campers who help earn their tuition, value their experience.
Summer camp is important in the life of our youth. It’s a wonderful way to help young people open up and go beyond themselves; to be their best me. It is a constant learning experience that is prompted primarily by their curiosity. At Green River Preserve, we believe that bright, curious, and creative children are the future leaders of the world. Be creative: make it happen.