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Advice for Campers- Kate Burgauer

A Little Bit About Me

Mosquitoes love me, horseflies fear me, and campers still tell me they laugh at  my silly jokes.  Even though I have a grown-up job, I often daydream about canoeing on a placid lake, singing songs until I have no voice, and riding horses down a well-worn trail.  I travel everywhere with a pocket knife, spork, and deck of cards – in case there is an emergency, pie in need of eating, or moment of boredom.  Summer camp will always be a special, magical, life-changing place for me.  I attended my first sleep-away camp when I was ten and haven’t missed a summer since.

Top Ten Things I Learned at Summer Camp

As the school year is about to begin, it’s a great time to think about your summer adventures.  During my summer camp days, I know that I challenged myself and learned all kinds of great new skills.  It’s amazing that sometime in between hiking, riding horses, camping out, and making new friends, I was growing in knowledge and life-long talents.  Here’s my advice for campers of the things I learned at summer camp:

10.  Those wet shoes will eventually dry out.  My first summer at camp, I slid right into the lake while trying to get into a canoe.  Even though I thought that my soggy shoes would be that way forever, I learned to be patient.  When they finally did dry out, I sort of missed that squishy sensation that reminded me of all the creek-walking fun I had had.

9.  Bring extra batteries.  After my flashlight died on the way to the outhouse one night, I learned to always plan ahead and be prepared.  It was great to have some extra to give to my new with friends when they left the lantern on all night.

8.  Sharing an ice cream sandwich makes it taste better.  There is a mystical feature of all dessert items that make them so much more satisfying if you offer some to a friend.  I also discovered that it’s more fun when you’re not the only one with ice cream on your face, too.

7.  It’s okay to miss home, as long as you also don’t miss the fun.  I thought about my parents a little, and I missed my dog.  But swimming was so exciting, and the horses were so beautiful, and the camp counselors were so hilarious, that the week just flew by.  I am glad I spent the time away from home and had a chance to challenge myself.

6.  Coming to camp alone was the best way to meet people.  My very first summer I went to camp solo, and I came home with ten new friends.  I learned how to introduce myself and get to know the cool things about the girls in my group.  I stay in touch with many of those same campers today.

5.  Listen to your counselors.  Yes, they sometimes have to tell you rules for activities.  But, your counselors will also share silly stories, grand yarns that include epic challenges, and life lessons.  Take some time to just sit with them and listen.  They might just become your new best friend, too.

4.  Sing all of the songs.   The silly lyrics and goofy hand motions definitely helped me be more confident in front of people.  The cheers for my cabin group inspired me to be a team player.  And, the soft nighttime songs still float through my memory anytime I look up at the stars.

3.  Try all of the activities.  When I was at summer camp, I had a really hard time at archery and row boating, but I was a rock star at horseback riding and hiking.  I learned what my talents were and appreciated getting a chance to try other activities, even if I had to work to be good at them.

2.  Get your cabin mates’ contact information. No matter how far away we were, my new friends and I stayed in touch.  I came to appreciate the postcards, emails, and phone calls throughout the year because I had learned that a true friend never looses touch.

1. Sign up for next summer right now!  When I was going to summer camp, I came home ready to go back again as soon as possible.  Time always flew during the school year, and I missed my camp friends everyday.  The only thing that kept me going on those dull, winter days was knowing that I was already registered for another camp experience.

Kate Burgauer

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