I love this quote. It so perfectly sums up one of my favorite parts about camp, and also one of the most powerful. One of the things kids struggle with most in growing up, is the pull between really being yourself but also wanting so badly to be accepted and liked. At some point in their life, most kids will be the victim of bullying. That old adage of “Sticks & stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”? If only that were true. Most of us know from experience that words can hurt more deeply and for much longer than physical wounds ever do. Kids sometimes hide their true self, afraid of what people will think of them if they knew the truth.
Now, I am not going to claim that camp is perfectly immune from bullying. We are helping kids grow up, and along the way there are lessons to be taught about how to treat people with kindness. But the most amazing thing to watch is when kids learn, by watching other kids, instead of being told by grown-ups, that at Deerhorn, everyone is accepted. Kindness is cool and differences are celebrated rather than ridiculed.
Kids learn quickly at Deerhorn that you should just be yourself. Boys feel comfortable being themselves and are accepted for who they are. The last day of camp is a huge testament to this. Where else would you see 15 year old boys,hugging and crying at the thought of having to leave behind a place and people they love so dearly? High school boys? Crying in front of their peers? It’s not only accepted, it’s embraced with cries of “Me too.”
And the silliness…oh the silliness that happens at camp on a daily basis. Costumes for Wacky Wednesday, dancing and skits for koogee skit night, rock & roll contests in tennis class, synchronized swimming during swim class, even birthday parties for dogs!
And they learn all of this by watching their counselors. Kids watch counselors make complete fools of themselves in our counselor shows at the end of each session, and they learn that silliness is a big part of life at camp. They see their counselors crying when they too have to leave at the end of a session, and in turn, they feel comfortable letting others see their emotions.
And because they feel so comfortable & accepted at camp, they gain confidence in their own abilities. That confidence makes them more willing to try new activities, to conquer their fears, and to reach out and form new friendships.
A summer at Deerhorn is one of the greatest gifts you can give your son. You’ve given them a community where they learn to love and embrace who they are. At Deerhorn, they learn that you can be yourself, and “yourself” is always good enough.