As our society continues to navigate the ever-changing mandates, guidelines and recommendations from local government agencies, the CDC and countless others, it’s become clear that many are simply looking for a way back to “normal” life. This summer is gearing up to be just that for countless families looking for opportunities for their children to re-engage with friends, explore beyond the confines of their family bubble, and truly dive into a summer they will never forget.
Covid 19 has affected us all in ways we could have never imagined. This generation of parents and children have never experienced a pandemic that literally shut the country and much of the world down for an extended period. Early elementary aged children have never experienced school without a mask, been on a school field trip or experienced the presence of their parent as a volunteer in their classroom. Many children continue to learn virtually, depriving them of the most basic experiences we all remember during our early school years. And for our older elementary, middle, and high school aged children the impact may be far greater as they truly understand the difference between before and after Covid as well as the many opportunities and experiences they missed because of the pandemic.
No matter your child’s age, a priority for many families this summer will be creating and facilitating ways for their children to play, engage and socialize in a meaningful and normal way. At Camp Blue Ridge, our mission works to do just that. “Camp Blue Ridge is a family operated, activity-oriented, coed, accredited summer camp. At Camp Blue Ridge we strive to develop an independent camper within a community setting. We offer children and teens an ever-evolving collection of specialized activities in the areas of aquatics, athletics, outdoor adventure, and the cultural arts. Ages 5-16 will benefit from Camp Blue Ridge’s safe and nurturing environment and focus on educational and social development, all nestled within 250 acres of the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains in northern Georgia, 1 1/2 hours from Atlanta, Gatlinburg, Greenville, and Asheville.”
There are many camp highlights that help us foster a strong sense of community while also balancing individual growth and independence at Blue Ridge. Our elective style program allows our campers to hand select their schedule on a three-day rotation, this affords them the opportunity to create their own journey, navigate their daily schedule independently and interact with campers and staff outside of their daily cabin life. In addition to our daily activities, our evening activities program and unique special events introduce our campers to new challenges, leadership roles, team building, and the navigation of group cohesion and communication in a fun, supportive and energetic environment.
Although many great memories are centered around our camp program, cabin life is the foundation for which our campers truly experience lasting memories and growth. At CBR, we offer 2-, 5- and 7-week sessions. From the moment our campers arrive at camp, they are greeted by a loving and engaging staff whose sole focus is on ensuring the safety, well being and memorable experience of each of their campers. Our counselors will work to encourage group interaction and cohesion by creating a unique set of goals, expectations and values that will ensure each child is contributing socially, emotionally, and physically as a member of their cabin family. During their time at Camp Blue Ridge, our campers will learn empathy, show compassion, and celebrate others. They will hone their skills as negotiators, encouragers, leaders, and listeners. They will learn new perspectives, appreciate differences and how to put others needs and feelings first.
A Camp Magazine article written by Audrey Monke entitled, “The Impact of Camp Experiences on Social Skills and Happiness”, emphasizes the importance of social skills on the overall development of children. She writes, “To become happy, successful adults, children need certain social skills to develop positive relationships with others (Crosnoe, 2000). Over the past 15 years, the field of positive psychology has looked into what makes people thrive rather than what causes psychological distress (e.g., depression, anxiety). Several studies (Diener, Suh, Lucas, & Smith, 1999; Seligman, 2012) have concluded that positive relationships are a key predictor of overall well-being. Good social skills, in turn, predict positive relationships (Gottman, Gonso, & Rasmussen, 1975). Youth who lack social competencies, just as much as youth who lack academic competencies, require coaching from adult teachers and mentors. In addition, all youth — even those with good social skills — benefit from practicing and honing those skills. Many summer camp rograms specifically focus on teaching, modeling, and practicing the social skills that most schools — because of lack of time and resources — cannot teach.” For more information on Mental Health Resources and the benefits of camp due to Covid-19, please visit the American Camping Associations website at https://www.acacamps.org/resource-library/coronavirus/mental-health-resources.
Long before Covid-19 became a thing, summer camps were bringing people together, building community and breaking down barriers that often divide people. Residential summer camps, offer a unique and unmatched opportunity for our children to learn, grow and play in ways that can’t be matched. As we begin to see a path back to normalcy, more and more families will look to the camp community to re-engage, re-invent and start anew for a generation that has become so reliant on the virtual world. So bring on the fist bumps, the high fives and those big smiles and we will see you at the gates this summer.