The Top 4 lessons from Camp that prepared me for College

I am a product of sleep away camp, plain and simple. If you ask any of my friends, they will say it’s all I talk about. I have been going to sleepaway camp since I was eight years old; first as a camper then, CIT, and for the past two summers as a counselor. Going to camp for all these years has given me many skills like how to build a fire or friendship bracelets, but most applicable for college, camp has instilled four core values in me; Caring, Honesty, Respect, and Responsibility. Each value has helped make my transition to college just a little easier.

At camp we live in 10 x 12-foot platform tents with seven other people, so the concept of living in close quarters with strangers is not a new concept to me. Being able to live harmoniously with seven people made it easy to transition to having one roommate. There is a lot more to sharing a room than just keeping your side clean, it’s about mutual respect. While my roommate and I were perfectly matched and meshed from day one, this is not always the case and you will not always want to be best friends with everyone you meet. Being able to respect others is vital to becoming apart of the community. So while you are managing your lifestyle change it is important to remember the people around you are going through something similar. 

Respecting others is important, but to make meaningful connections you have to go one step further and care about them. The camp environment is similar to college in the sense that you are surrounded by the same people, who are mostly strangers to start with, for an extended period. This environment lends itself well to creating lifelong friendships overnight.

Honesty. It has been important for me to be honest with myself when I have too much on my plate. In college, there is no one helping us make daily decisions about what to eat, who to talk to, or when to study. You have to gauge how you are doing. So when I was struggling with a class and felt like dropping the class was quitting, I had to do some self-reflection to ultimately come to the realization that the stress and time I was committing to this course was more than what I was getting out of it. I was only able to make the decision because of how I was taught to be honest at camp (and a little assistance from my mom). Throughout my two summers in the CIT (counselor in training) program, I learned about how important self-reflection is. At camp, you can’t help campers have a fun time and learn new skills if you can’t help yourself. The same lesson is applicable outside of camp, you aren’t helpful to anyone if you can’t help yourself. 

Responsibility is the most easily transferable skill between camp and college. When I was first sent off to camp as a child, the first thing I learned was how to be responsible for myself and my actions. Going off to college is no different; you are solely responsible for your decisions.

At the end of the day, I will always love camp. While some may say I am too old and I need to do an internship over the summer, each summer I learn new life lessons and make new friends. That will stay with me for the rest of my life.