Summer Camp is a place at which children and teenagers congregate during the summer months. Largely a North American phenomenon, the Summer Camp offers adolescents the opportunity to participate in activities that would otherwise be nigh on impossible during the academic year.
The Modern Summer Camp
In the modern Summer Camp the youngsters are able to enjoy a wide range of activities, not sticking to the rigid of outdoor based activities. ‘Campers’ can attend summer camps dedicated to any number of diverse activities including Rock music, computing and performing. Specialized camps have also been created for weight loss, often disparagingly referred to as ‘Fat Camps’ and for children with special needs.
Summer Camp Tradition
The traditions of summer camp stretch back to the middle of the 19th Century. In 1861 Frederick W. Gunn and his wife Abigail organized the first recognized Summer Camp for the boys they schooled from home. The boys from Washington, Connecticut, along with the Gunn’s enjoyed a two-week hiking vacation. Frederick Gunn along with his wife created a Gunnery camp, and continued the tradition of an outdoors camp for a further twelve years.
In today’s summer camps there are many features that run throughout, despite differences in formality or specialized activity. Adult supervisors who are referred to as counselors run the camps. These counselors are usually in their late teens to early twenties, and tend to be students from high schools or colleges. Renowned for low rates of pay, counselors do enjoy the privilege of free accommodation and food. The primary job of these counselors is to guide the campers and to uphold the rules and safety of the camp. They may then be assigned a specific group of campers, who are referred to as a ‘bunk’. Youngsters within this bunk will share accommodation and activities with each other and their counselor. The summer camps can come in two main forms, ‘sleepaway camps’ and ‘day camps’, the primary difference being that at sleepaway camps, the campers remain at the camp the entire time including nights, whilst day campers return home after the days activities. A common problem at Summer Camp is homesickness, these camps can be the first time a child has spent extended time away from their family, and this can often become a situation that a counselor must deal with.
20% of summer camps are directed by three primary youth organizations, the YMCA, 4 – H and the Boy Scouts. These groups account for 440 of the American Camp Associations recognized summer camps. The three organize camps integrate the camps into the work that they do with youths nationwide throughout the year. Summer camp fairs, which are held throughout the year, offer parents and children the opportunity to view the activities on offer and converse with camp officials before attending.