Camp isn’t just fun and games – it has the power of transform lives.
Camps all over the world provide campers the opportunity for growth and development by creating spaces to build relationships, adventure and explore nature, and see their own lives changed. Camp Sonshine, a nonprofit christian camp and conference center located in Roca, Neb., strives to be a place that does just that.
“In today’s world, it’s sometimes tough for a kid to be a kid and it is important for us to provide them with a safe and accepting place to do that,” said Jeff Keiser, Camp Sonshine Director. “One of our goals is to see growth in the lives of each one of our campers and staff in all areas of life.”
Relationships: Friends and Adult Mentors
According to Erika Christakis, author of The Importance of Being Little and former Yale lecturer, the most important thing that children need is to feel secure in their relationships.
These counselors have become like older sisters to her and such great role models.
She says, “if the most important element to fostering a child’s growth and development is building secure relationships, then there is a real need for places to support play, learning and channels for relationships to be nurtured.”
Camp Sonshine approach to programming is to place each camper with a group that is lead by a counselor. Each counselor is trained and equipped to oversee and get involved in activity and to build relationships within their group.
“We’ve been attending Camp Sonshine several years,” said one camp parent. “We continue to send [our daughter] because of the bonds she forms with her counselors and the age appropriate activities. These counselors have become like older sisters to her and such great role models.”
New Environment & Experiences
According to Michael Brandwein, noted speaker and consultant to the camp profession, camps provide a less pressured atmosphere for children to learn more readily what positive things to say and do when they make mistakes and face challenges.
Camp Sonshine, like other camps, offer activities such as archery, go carts and swimming, but places an emphasis on creating activities and challenges that will boost imagination and teamwork.
“Our family loves Camp Sonshine because no matter their age, they provided our kids an opportunity for growth,” said Karen Parish, whose two campers are now counselors at Camp Sonshine.
According to her, Camp provided the opportunity for her kids to be outside and active, learn responsibility, learn to work alongside their peers and then to ultimately lead their own group of campers.
“All this through fun activities and programming, while having fun and learning how much God loves them,” Parish said. “Camp Sonshine is one of the best investments we have ever made for our family and our kids.”
According to The Power of Camp, an initiative of Christian Camp and Conference Association, at camp, young people have the mental room to consider some of the most important issues of life. This break from the craziness of their regular routine allows campers to think about their future, to evaluate unhealthy patterns, and to discover the truth that God loves them and has an amazing plan for their lives.
“Thinking of summer, the week at camp with friends and counselors is a highlight, not just for the summer, but a highlight that brings us joy the entire year!” said Nina, a camp parent. “The games, the songs, the incredible silliness – these memories make us smile. The conversations, the counselors, the working through real life questions – these memories impact and shape individuals for life.”