Our kids were not happy at all about going away to a month-long summer camp in Missouri. They were not happy that we were separating them in different cabins at a camp where they knew no one. Many times I questioned our parental decision to send them off because life just feels better when our kids are happy, right? Sometimes we need to remember that as parents we do know best and trudge on.
We knew that Kanakuk was the perfect environment for our kids to grow in every important aspect of their lives. In six short years, our foursome should all be off to college and my husband and I will be left with a quiet house. Being without them for a month was tough, but it’s better to start figuring out now what being apart looks and feels like, so when that time comes I’m somewhat prepared. If you want to read my post on all the reasons WHY we decided to send our kids to sleep away summer camp, be sure to read this.
Here are 5 things I learned from sending our kids to Sleepaway Summer Camp
1. Camp affords personal growth through opportunity and exposure
Sleepaway camp is an amazing way for kids and parents alike to grow on many levels. We will never know what we are truly capable of by always remaining in our comfort zone. Our kids were able to meet others from all over the country (mostly the midwest and south) and learn from living alongside them. The campers also got to be mentored by cool young adults every day. Where would they ever have a chance to form close relationships with high school and college students? They also got to try new sports and outdoor activities that they just wouldn’t have had the opportunity to do at home.
2. Modesty is Hotesty
Every night we would scroll through the camp photo website (as parents of sleep away campers do) hoping to catch a glimpse of our offspring enjoying their time in the woods. Every day I would find myself being so impressed at the pictures of the teenage girls around the pool and the lake. Seeing all these beautiful young ladies modestly dressed not only in one piece swimwear but with sports bras and running shorts over them made this Mother smile.
I grew up pretty conservative in Indiana and it makes me sad the lack of modesty in our youth today. Our daughter dear is back to her bikini-wearing ways, as most of the girls probably are now that they are home. But, she has learned about the value of modesty and being appropriate around the opposite sex as she grows, not just from her preaching Momma. She told me that the counselors would tell them that Modesty is Hotesty and I just love it. All of the young men also had to wear shirts anytime they were around females unless they were in the pool or the lake. Can I get a Hallelujah?
3. I am Third
I’m sure you’re aware that we are raising kids in a Me society. One of the main reasons we were drawn to Kanakuk, was that it is a camp for teens to grow in their Christian faith. Their teaching of I am Third is exactly how we are trying to raise our children. God first. Others second. Me Third. To find a camp that strengthens our family values was awesome. We attend church, pray in our home and serve locally and on mission trips, but the power of our kids being surrounded by like-minded believers in their peer group for a month was very powerful.
They were inspired by camp President Joe White and two of our sons even chose to get baptized before coming home. I am in awe. I had the opportunity to hear Joe talk a couple of times and he brought me to tears with his words and passion every time. I’m so grateful for his love and guidance for this generation.
4. It’s awesome to read handwritten letters from your kids
Even though our four are yet to have cell phones, they love their Instagram and texting capabilities on their Ipads. No technology is allowed at camp, so it’s back to basic communicating. Not being able to talk to our kids at all was the toughest part of having them away at camp. Four weeks of only communicating through the mail.
How fun though to go to the mailbox and receive actual handwritten letters from your kids! It is surreal to receive a note from your daughter saying that she just went on a three-day overnight canoe trip, sleeping in a tent while she had a fever of almost 100 degrees, but had a blast. One son wrote that he went on an overnight canoe trip through rapids that tipped his tin vessel and he and his cabinmate had to hold on to a log until someone came to rescue them. This was all before they climbed through a cereal box sized hole in a cave to sleep for the night. It was an awesome experience, he said. Whoa.
The camp provided them with adventures and situations that built resilience and confidence. It’s difficult as a parent because I want pictures of all of the cool stuff they did and saw, but there are none. They have the memories and we get to hear their stories. It’s perfect and exactly how it should be.
5. Dry Shirts Ain’t Hype
Ain’t no party like a K-2 party! This camp is crazy fun. Kanakuk had a themed party night every week and dance parties all of the time. The leadership counselors are high energy and everyone just has a blast. My reserved kids were not looking forward to this part at all, but they all came home talking about how much fun the parties were. At closing ceremonies, I was watching all of the campers letting loose doing the Whip and Nae Nae together for the very last time. It made me smile from ear to ear. The boys told me that the counselors would chant Dry Shirt Ain’t Hype– meaning get out there and let loose. Enjoy your life!
I receive absolutely no compensation for this post or recommendation of this camp. I truly love and believe in the experience that our family received and want to pass the blessing of it along to you, as a friend did for me. All four of my kids had me sign them up for next year before we even left the grounds. Perhaps we will see you there next summer!