Spreading the word about our summer camp has been a tricky business in some ways, because while we firmly believe in our mission, we also recognize that camp (and perhaps our camp in particular) might not be for everyone. Coming out and saying “Hey! Here are a bunch of reasons you shouldn’t consider our camp!” is a little strange, though, because our future depends on finding families and young people willing to entrust us with the total care of them or their children for a week or more.
This article, hopefully, will help to give you a clearer picture of what you can expect from camp. It might tip the scales in favor of you not sending your child to camp. But we figure that being honest about our camp experience and our shortcomings will help build trust with people who want to be a part of our camp community. If our honest assessment of what happens here has you thinking twice about coming, well, we figure that’s okay too. If you have any questions or want further clarification, you should of course give us a call at 585-451-5141.
So, without further ado, 9 reasons you shouldn’t send your child to camp this summer.
1. They are unwilling to talk through conflict.
We are definitely not the camp for you if you believe that people should avoid conflict at all costs. At Stomping Ground, we’re not about assigning blame and forcing people to say sorry, and we recognize that this doesn’t line up with some youth-development and parenting strategies. We believe that conflict is an underutilized learning experience, and that hearing and empathizing with another person or persons is a more productive way to restore justice and heal harm. If you think that there is enough quarreling and bickering, and not enough listening in the world at large, then we hope you’ll join us in rethinking conflict resolution. Let’s rewrite what it means to disagree, to hurt, and practice leaning in and learning to see another person’s perspective
2. Your child has an unwillingness to be supervised.
Extensive work has been done on how over-scheduled and over-monitored the children of today are, and if you’ve read anything we’ve shared on our philosophy, you can probably imagine that we agree with most of it. When kids come to Stomping Ground, though, one of our staff has eyes on them at all times. Kids who are used to having a lot of autonomy sometimes struggle with this - so why do we do it? There are two reasons. First, it’s the law. We simply can not have kids come to camp and leave them fully to their own devices without being shut down by the local health department. So, we don’t. Second, though, is that it actually is a safety concern. We can’t perfectly know every child as well as the caregivers who send them to us, and while I’m sure many of the kids who come to summer camp would be totally fine exploring our grounds alone, some percentage won’t be, and we can’t know who those children might be before it’s too late. Between our lake, the expansive grounds, and good old fashioned poison ivy, it’s best for everyone if we know where our campers are at all times.
3. They would be unhappy without access to the internet.
While we have the freest technology policy of any camp I’m aware of, the reality is that our facility is located in the middle of the woods in the Catskills, and 4G just isn’t a thing. We find that even the most tech-savvy of our campers adjust to this pretty quickly, but I’m sure there are some kids out there for whom this is too intimidating a proposition, so we like to be straightforward about it.
4. Bugs, dirt, grass, drive them up a wall.
Camp can be a messy place. Kids who like to stay impeccably clean and indoors might not consider Stomping Ground the ideal summer destination. Kids that come here often squish mud between their toes, get grass stains on their pants, and leave with knots in their hair. Campers often go on salamander hunts, collect and examine bugs, hike through creeks and climb trees. We follow up all outdoor adventures with tick checks and a chance to take a shower, but being outside is a fundamental part of the experience here. We believe there’s a certain beauty in the carefree way children can dirty themselves, and are happy to facilitate it.
5. They aren't interested in making new friends.
Camp is all about finding your comfort zone and then sticking your toe out on the other side. Campers are in a new location, with new people, and new ideas, which presents a unique chance to make new friends. People who come to Stomping Ground often find a number of people who will attempt to engage them, get to know them, and befriend them. We recognize that this level of social interaction isn’t for everyone. What we have found, though, is that summer camp leaves campers and staff with a lasting impression of greater self worth that often stems from the great friends and connections made throughout the session. There are so many opportunities for campers and staff to connect on similar interests, find new interests, and see the world from others eyes. Camp friends often last a lifetime, just ask any of our staff members!
6. They want to know exactly what is going on at all times.
We help kids stay apprised of the daily schedule as much or more than any camp I am aware of, but nonetheless, being at camp will mean unexpected things will come up from time to time. We have programmed offerings available to our summer campers basically all day every day, but our free-flowing environment also allows for a great deal of spontaneity that can make things feel a little chaotic for our more structure-loving young-people.
7. Our bathrooms are more rustic than what your kids are used to, in all likelihood.
While we’re always trying to improve our facilities and offerings, the reality is that our bathrooms still have plenty of room to improve. This isn’t an intentional decision - we don’t think there’s a lot of value in using bathrooms that are less comfortable than the ones campers are used to - but as of right now that’s what we’re living with. Some campers are very selective about where they feel comfortable going to the bathroom, so we like to be as upfront about this one as possible.
8. Your kids don’t have the technical life skills necessary to spend a week at camp.
Being at camp means, among other things, taking care of one’s own hygiene. While we have structures in place to help kids remember to take the necessary steps to taking care of themselves, campers will need to be able to change their own clothes, brush their own teeth, and keep themselves clean.
9. You or your child are hoping really hoping they’ll learn some specific skills
Stomping Ground is not a sports camp. It’s not a wilderness camp, an arts camp, or a science camp. Instead of focusing in on and diving deeper on any one particular endeavor, we provide a wide array of activities and opportunities for a diverse camp experience, and perhaps more importantly, individual growth. During their time at Stomping Ground, campers can take part in more traditional activities like archery, soccer, pottery, and swimming. They can also sign up for more outrageous activities such as mud monsters, tea with the queen, make your own backpack, and slip and slide kickball. So if you’re looking for a camp where your kid will spend all day, every day focusing on learning one skill, we’re not the camp for you. We will provide vast opportunities for your child to pick and choose to from in order to create their ideal schedule, and hopefully, they’ll learn some specific lessons about who they are and what they are capable of.
Well, that’s all for now. I’m sure there are others we’re leaving out, but our mission is to paint as honest a picture as possible for you so you can make an informed decision. Watching our camp family continue to grow at such a rapid pace has helped us discover our own shortcomings better than we could have hoped, but it’s also helped solidify what we do believe, and who we want to be. If you like what you’ve read here, then chances are good you’ll enjoy being a part of our summer camp family.
Again, if you want to discuss any of these things further don’t hesitate to reach out to Laura, our Camp Director, at 585-489-8880