CFN – A quick question to a cache of acquaintances – What do you remember most about going to camp when you were a kid – yielded not only some thoroughly engaging responses, but ones that appear to correlate closely with the findings of a study conducted at the University of Waterloo.
Take Cale Zwegers. Today, he’s a 30-year-old construction worker. But his eyes sparkle when talks about a wilderness camp adventure he had at age 14.
“I remember learning to feel totally in control of myself in an unknown and vast area. The wilderness can play some cruel tricks on you at night.”
Specifically, Cale says he learned to tune into nature and make music with the odd and unfamiliar sounds he heard through the night.
“I’m hardly ever without music, so not having any, [with me] I was forced to make due with what I had!”
Forced to make due, indeed.
Cales’ eyes also smile when he talks about his experience finding extra things to eat: “There’s a whole lot of edible things in nature that no one thinks about on a daily basis. I know now that if I was ever lost in the wilds, I’d have a great time till help arrived.”
So what does the 2007 research from Waterloo conclude about the benefits of camping? Among other things, it answers these key questions:
Can camp change how campers relate to the environment and their impact upon it?
Yes, camp can help teach and promote environmentally friendly lifestyles.
Physical activity is important. Does camp help promote and encourage active lifestyles?
Yes, camp improves campers’ attitudes towards physical activity.
Can camp help children identify and positively deal with their own emotions?
Yes, experiences at camp can help children further develop their emotional intelligence.
Is camp a place where children experience growth in terms of personal development and self confidence?
Yes, camp fosters independence and self-confidence.
For the local Children’s Aid Society, the main reason for holding the second annual golf tournament to raise funds to send kids to various kinds of camps was described by staff-member Kimly Thivierge as a way to foster fun [for the kids] and personal growth. “Our goal is that no child will be turned away from the opportunity to go to camp,” Thivierge added.
One local sponsor of the camp initiative, Medical Arts Pharmacy owner, Harry Haramis, says that as a father of four and as a healthcare professional that camp is a perfect prescription for safer, happier, healthier kids.