The first days of summer induce a sense of nostalgia in many of us. We’re flooded with memories of carefree days when different adventures were around every corner. Though we were away from the classroom, summer is when we learned about the world by experiencing it firsthand – riding bikes, making new friends, and learning new skills.

One of the fondest summer memories many of us have is camping. The fresh morning dew on the grass, the crackling of the campfire, the serenity of the great outdoors, the company of those we love – these are the simple pleasures that camping allows us to appreciate.

At Mercy Home, we want our kids to someday reflect on these memories as well. Our summer camping trips provide an opportunity for them to connect with nature, build confidence by learning new skills, and strengthen the bonds they have with their peers.

“I really liked the experience at camp,” said Tyler, a young man at Mercy Home. Some of the activities he and the other boys in his home enjoyed at camp last summer included canoeing, playing games, and fishing.

But one of the signature camp experiences is the food. There are no microwaves or fast food restaurants in the wilderness – you must make do with what you have.

“I never thought I was going to be able to start a fire,” Juan said. “I was like, ‘I’m going to be the type of guy that doesn’t know how to do anything at a camp.’ But I learned over time.”

Tyler and the other boys had a chance to filet the fish they caught last summer, and then cooked the fish themselves. They also made Shepard’s Pie – cutting up sausages, potatoes, and peppers, and then rolling it up into tin foil and roasting it over the campfire. And, of course, they toasted marshmallows to make smores.

Along with the food, the opportunity to try new things and learn new skills also makes the camp experience unique.

For Juan, another young man at Mercy Home, camping empowered him to discover skillsets he never thought he would have.

“I never thought I was going to be able to start a fire,” Juan said. “I was like, ‘I’m going to be the type of guy that doesn’t know how to do anything at a camp.’ But I learned over time.”

Juan has been on several camping trips with Mercy Home, and now considers himself a leader of the group. He enjoys the responsibility of looking out for his peers and sharing what he has learned with them.

“I wanted to do something by myself to experience what it is to go on the water by yourself. And it was also on my bucket list.”

And while he has done plenty of canoeing on his previous camping trips, last year he was able to try something new.

“Another thing that I learned to do at camp was Kayak,” Juan said. “I wanted to do something by myself to experience what it is to go on the water by yourself. And it was also on my bucket list.”

Making camp food, trying new things, and learning new skills are wonderful aspects of these trips – but what makes camping so special is the people you share the memories with.

Living in a dormitory-style structure at Mercy Home allows youth to develop tight bonds with one another. They spend time together doing group therapy, chores, and celebrating birthdays. But there is something different about being together in the secluded environment that camping offers. The chaos and distractions of everyday life disappear, and different types of bonds are formed.

“The difference between hanging out at Mercy Home and with the guys at camp is that you’re able to share moments with the people around you that you never thought you were going to share.” Juan said.

A trip to summer camp is so much more than a vacation for our young men and women. It’s a chance to experience the healing power of nature, to feel confident, and capable, and to strengthen team building skills.

“You’re able to share moments with the people around you that you never thought you were going to share.”

For Juan, his biggest takeaway from his trip to camp was learning to make a fire on his own. This task was challenging, but it ultimately taught him patience – with himself and with nature. While he initially struggled during his first attempt at building a fire, he refused to give up, and did it all on his own! It’s moments like these that make the biggest impact on our kids; the lessons they learn  will stick with them for many years to come.

We are so grateful for the generosity and support of those who make these lifetime memories possible for our children.

What is your favorite camp memory? Share your answer with us in the comments below!

Create your own user feedback survey
0 replies

Comments

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

0 replies

Comments

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *