When I left my job in May of 2015, I told people I was going “back to camp.” What compelled me to make this life-changing decision? To be away from my husband for the summer months and take on a job with more responsibility and stress, and less pay?!
Because my life was changed at camp and I knew this was my opportunity to give back.
A little bit about me. I grew up in Rochester, New York (formerly known as Kodak country!) and my family has roots in the camping ministry. Both my parents grew up in New Jersey. My father and his brothers went to Brigade at church and attended Northern Frontier in their summers while his sister attended Cedarbrook (then Cherith). My mom never got the chance to go to camp, but her friends would go to this magical place called Camp Cherith each year. So first it was my brother going off to Northern Frontier, and then when I was old enough, they sent me to Cherith.
Old enough?! Look at this picture of me! I’m a baby!
I first attended with my dad on a father/daughter weekend to get comfortable with the place and for my dad to pass on his camping knowledge to my seven-year-old brain. The next summer was the big plunge – one week away! To be honest, my biggest concern was who was going to braid my hair? Thankfully, the minute I saw my counselor (with hair down to her waist), I was relieved. Bye, Mom and Dad!
So that’s where it all started and I didn’t miss a summer until 2007. And now I’m back!
Surely, it’s not that simple or easy for everyone, but I offer these pieces of guidance and encouragement to you as you consider sending your daughter to camp:
Our staff is the best
We seek out the strongest Christian women who love God and love kids to serve each summer. They are trained in caring for campers, bible study, and numerous safety guidelines. A majority of our staff were campers at Cedarbrook. These women want to get to know your daughter and invest in her life for as long as you’ll send her to us this summer!
Our facilities are inspected and accredited
We cannot guarantee 100% safety. We live in a world where accidents happen. What we can guarantee is that we hold safety as our highest priority. Our facilities are inspected by the New York State Department of Health, and our program is accredited by the American Camping Association.
Our program is strong
We design our camping program around our four core values: spiritual formation, creation appreciation, skill building, and community building. We intentionally plan our days and activities around these principles, most importantly grounding everything we do in an effort to share the love of Christ with campers. One way we know our program is effective is that over 70% of our campers return each summer.
Your daughter needs risk
In the book Growing Strong Daughters, Dr. Lisa McMinn writes about the need for daughters to be exposed to risk in order to build confidence. She writes, “Meeting challenges and learning to persist, even when met with failure, instills confidence.” Sometimes the challenges at camp are obvious – climb to the top of this rock wall. Sometimes it’s not as obvious, like pushing through the homesickness that that swells up when you least expect it, but by the end of the week, your daughter will be crying because she doesn’t want to leave camp!
But don’t take my word for it! A mom wrote this after her daughter returned from camp:
“Even though she literally was challenged, I am so glad she was! She experienced fear and pushed herself to try some new things that scared her. Some she succeeded at, some she didn’t. But she still pushed herself, and I am so glad she had that opportunity. I can’t always provide her with these types of challenging situations.”
Your daughter needs to unplug
We offer the only opportunity I know of to spend a week away from screens! So much of our lives is mediated through technology. Allow your daughter the time to be away from the pressure of social media and interact with other girls face-to-face, to be truly present and not worry about who will Snapchat or Instagram this moment.
Your daughter is ready
Ok, this is presumptuous, but I have to finish strong! After reading all this, I encourage you to seriously think about sending your daughter to camp this summer. The experiences she will have there, both positive and negative, will impact her life in a way that you can’t. And if you still have questions, talk to me! I want to share the power of the Camp Cedarbrook experience and what God is doing there with all who will listen!