Notes from the Director

January 31, 2001

A new decade is upon us, and no matter how hard we cling to history, time moves on and our present and future are staring us in the face.  That’s a great way to sum up our offseason each year.  The summer of 2010 was a great one.  On the most part, the weather cooperated (sorry about the one drive through closing), the staff were exceptional and the program flowed well.  We had tons of campers register to return and loads of our great staff drove off promising to be part of the excitement again in 2011.  What a great year!  But 2010 is over.  No matter how great the previous year, we owe it to next year to make it even better!

In camping as an industry, life moves on as well.  Earlier in the month, I had the privilege of attending the funeral of Si Ragsdale, the owner of Camp Stewart.  Si had been involved with camping since his first summer as a camper in 1935.  He’d been in Texas camping almost as long as there had been Texas camping.  His service was a testament to 75 years of shining lights on the lives of youth and young adults.  There were nearly 500 folks in attendance, from 10 to 90 years old.  All with a story of what Camp had meant to them.  I had saved this article below about the long term benefits of camp, but it was great to see first hand at Si’s memorial, the personal benefits of how camp impacted generations of campers.

Taken from the American Camping Association and USA Today Newspaper:

Camp has become a part of the fabric of America — conjuring special memories of hiking, swimming, friendships, and adventure for generations. When children go to camp, they’ll likely come home gushing about the lifelong friends they’ve made, andthe exciting adventures they had. What they probably won’t tell you about are the life lessons camp has given them — those skills that, if nurtured at home after camp, translate into a lasting self-confidence, an awareness of the importance of kindness,
and a greater comfort in voicing their opinions.

For 150 years, camp has been changing lives — allowing all children to feel  successful, especially those who may struggle with traditional educational settings. Camp is full of fun and excitement, but it is so much more — developing children who are better equipped to lead in the twenty-first century with skills such as  independence, empathy, the ability to work as part of a team, and a broader worldview.

• Camp is a safe and nurturing environment that enhances social skills.  Camp is for everyone, so children and youth have the opportunity to meet and interact with peers
from outside their school environment.

• Camp supplements traditional education.  Camps use intentional programming to create
a balance of experiential learning opportunities that are physical, emotional, and social.

• Camp provides experiences that promote selfconfidence and future academic growth. American Camp Association® (ACA) independent research shows that parents and camp staff, as well as the campers themselves, report significant growth in several areas, including leadership, independence, social comfort, and values and decisions.

• Camp encourages a respect and love of nature.  Children are able to learn about the natural world.  Camp also gives them a chance to “unplug.”  More and more experts
are advocating the value of time spent in nature for children — and camp is a perfect place to do that.

• Camp provides the opportunity to stay physically active. Camp is the ultimate outdoor experience with programs that offer physical activities and sports that enhance health and teach self-confidence.

Camp is a natural extension of the classroom.  Research indicates that byparticipating in strategically planned, structured summer experiences, children
reduce summer learning loss. Camp challenges children, keeps them engaged, develops creativity and their talents, and expands their horizons.

Summer’s creeping up on us.  Camper  Forms will be going out soon and it will be time for 600 more young men to enjoy camp, La Junta style.

See you this summer.

Life is Good.  Camp is Better  (and better, and better each summer)

Blake

Written by Blake Smith

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