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5 Reasons To: Send Your Kids Away to Camp

By: Preston Kahn

In the past year and a half we have been taken over by the force that is Fortnite. It has become so powerful that all walks of life are now aware of the online game. You know it’s big time when my grandma is asking me, “what is this Forknight game all about.”  I have come across so many articles discussing how it is shaping the upcoming generation of kids and they are becoming less and less likely to go outside. I’ve heard more of this from parents when they ask me what made me decide to embark on my AT thru- hike. They explain how they could never get their kids to put down the game long enough to go outside and do some sort of activity even remotely similar to that. But it’s simple, all you have to do is send your kids away to camp and change their lives forever.

This is my own testimony as an “entitled millennial” who plays Fortnite but who also was once a kid that was sent off to summer camp and LOVED it. I didn’t have a choice that first summer, but every summer after I was anxiously awaiting to go back to camp. Some of today’s parents want to be aware of every movement their child makes, but then are mad when they haven’t left their room in two days… Here are five reasons why you should send your kids away to summer camp:

  • Learn how to be away from Mom and Dad earlier.

This was one of the biggest things that I was able to take away from going off to camp every summer. Having some time away from my parents to explore my independence was amazing. The sad reality is you are not going to be able to keep your kids glued to your hip forever and in fact you are doing a disservice to them by doing so. There is going to come a time when they have to spread their wings and leave the nest and you want to do everything you can to prepare them for that day.

I cannot tell you how many kids I met at college who were extremely sad or stressed out because it was their first time away from home. I felt very fortunate that my parents gave me this early opportunity to be on my own.  To know what it was like to be on my own was very important for my growth. I don’t have kids so this is simply conjecture but I would imagine that it’s nice to spend some time with your significant other without the kids around so really it’s a win-win.

 

  1. Hang up and hangout!

This is coming from someone who is glued to their phone so, take this with a grain of salt. I think there is a lot be said for spending a significant amount of time without your phone, especially as a young kid. When I went to camp, we had to check our phone at the front office and we wouldn’t get it back until the end of the summer. This is a tall task given the fact that many of us are addicted to our phones. The parents who are pointing to their kids screen time usually aren’t innocent in the matter either but why not do something to combat the problem. Look I get it, it’s tough to give up your phone for the summer but what I can say is that it is a freeing experience.

Having the spell lifted even if it’s just for a little bit is something that will benefit your children immensely. Many kids today use their phones as a crutch to avoid awkward encounters but what this will force them to do is step outside of their comfort zone and change bad habits. This will also help them learn what it means to make a friend without the help of technology.


 

  1. Meeting kids outside their immediate bubble

I have met some of my best friends from growing up and going to school together, but there is a lot you can gain from going to a place that you aren’t familiar with and having to meet new people. I had to learn to find commonalities outside of my friend zone with kids that I just met. At first I was bummed out that I was missing those daily trips to the pool but I grew so much because of friends that I met from all over the country. When I went to camp, I met people from places like Seattle, Chicago, Boston, Kansas City and even Hawaii. This helped me grow a lot because I had to make friends that didn’t have my same background and that is something that continues to serve me well as life goes on.

A few years back, I was in Lawrence, Kansas for a wedding  and was not exactly looking forward to it because I thought to myself “What is there to do in Kansas?”. Dorothy threw her house into a tornado just to get the heck out of Kansas. That’s when I remembered one of my close camp friends was from Kansas City and was attending Kansas University. During the weekend, I was able to meet up with him and he took me out on the town.We had great time and that would have never have been possible without my summer camp connection.

  1. “The School of Life”

There are plenty of things that we learn in school but are quick to forget. Some of the biggest things that I have learned and, in turn, applied to my life moving forward were life lessons that I got from camp. Without camp I wouldn’t have learned to pitch in and be a part of something bigger than myself. When we were out on our canoe trips I learned perseverance, there were countless times where I didn’t want to paddle but had to.  I’m thankful that I was able learn perseverance early on because it has served me so well in so many aspects of my life.

Another thing that I took away from camp was having to keep track of my things but if you talked to my mother she would say otherwise. Finally, just like I said above, making new friends in unfamiliar places is going to be something you can carry with you for the rest of your life and be better off because of it. All of these lessons were learned at “The School of Life” which, for me, was camp.

 

  1. Getting outside for crying out loud!

Lastly but most importantly, just get them outside! I always think it’s funny when I see those commercials promoting that kids get at least an hour of play in each day. The only time we were inside at camp was during “quiet hour” where we were supposed to rest for an hour after lunch. (Umm, who do I talk to about getting that back? You really don’t appreciate what you have until it’s gone…) The only other time indoors was when it was time to call it a night. In the morning we were in archery, riflery, sailing, woodsmanship, athletics, plyometrics, indian dancing, and swimming classes outside. During the afternoon we’d play tackle capture the flag, softball, or football, again, all outside.

Then on top of all the things we did on the island, we would go on wilderness trips for different amounts of time based on your age group. That allowed me to be able to canoe deep up into Canada and backpack in the Wind River Range in Wyoming. These experiences shaped me into what I am today and I’m forever grateful.  

You shouldn’t have to challenge your kid to play sixty minutes a day you should try to get them to sit down for only sixty minutes a day. I would have never had the tools and mindset to complete the entire Appalachian Trail without these experiences. The camp I attended was a wilderness outdoor camp, however, there are all types of camps. I am quite sure the results are almost always the same. Just about every person I have ever met who went to camp has nothing but glowing memories of their childhood summers and that is all thanks to heading off to camp.

Check out area camps here:

http://cincinnatifamilymagazine.com/directory-categories/residential-overnight-camps

If you need a couple of camp ideas I will say I’m biased. I attended Camp Kern as well as Camp Kooch-i-ching up in International Falls, MN. Their camp headquarters are located in Hyde Park, you can call the office to hear about presentations coming up in the near future.

Camp Kooch-i-ching

3515 Michigan Ave.

Cincinnati, Ohio 45208

Phone: 513-772-7479

Fax: 513-772-5673

 

Camp Kern

5291 STATE ROUTE 350

OREGONIA, OHIO 45054

1-800-255-KERN / 513-932-3756

 

Mt. Washington

by: Brandon Behymer

Bryan and myself recently returned from a winter ascent of Mt. Washington (wiki link).  Known for having some of the worst weather in North America and the fastest recorded wind speed ever, the highest peak in New Hampshire’s reputation stands much higher than its actual elevation of 6,288 feet. Having done some winter mountaineering out west prior to this trip, I never thought much of it. How demanding could a mountain under half the elevation of Colorado’s highest peak be?  Fairly demanding it turns out.

We departed Cincinnati at 5:30am on Tuesday, February 6.  Groggy, and excited to be on the road, we started off with a few podcasts in a futile attempt to keep our minds occupied during the ‘too early for conversation’ hours of the morning.  Bryan drove for the first six hours through light snow and fog.  We started calling his wife’s Honda Accord the Magic Carpet since every time one of us looked at the gas gauge, it appeared that it hadn’t moved. And yes, we borrowed his wife’s car because neither of ours will make it confidently out of the tri-state area. I’m curious to find out when the stench of four of the most outrageously smelly feet attached to ankles will finally dissipate to a tolerable level in that Magic Carpet. Sorry Laura…

After paying our tolls through Pennsylvania we passed through a small portion of New York, through Hartford, around Boston, and up into New Hampshire.  Tuesday night was spent in great company at the friend of a friend’s cabin on the shores of Lake Winnipesaukee. Going over maps and forecasts at the dinner table while exchanging stories reminded me that the feeling of home has a lot to do with the company kept there, and the cabin quickly felt comfortable and warm. The view the following morning was incredible, and I can only imagine the good times had on the lake both winter and summer.  In fact, Wednesday morning a brave soul driving a Chevy Silverado went barreling across the frozen surface of the lake, presumably to an ice fishing shack, at a speed indicative of their lack of confidence in the thickness of the ice.

Bryan and myself were eager to get closer to Mt. Washington and decided that with the impending snow storm, reaching Harvard cabin (Harvard cabin website) early Wednesday afternoon would be the best course of action.  Snow began to fall just as we lost cell phone reception on the drive into the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center.  It didn’t stop for the next twelve hours.  Our hosts from the night before accompanied us on the snowshoe hike up to Harvard cabin and then turned back to the vehicles, leaving Bryan and me to enjoy the 14-degree cabin, soaking wet from the steep hike up Huntington Ravine Trail.  We began building the fire promptly at 3:55 joking about how rebellious both of us were being for ‘ignoring’ the sign hung discreetly and directly over the wood burning stove saying that no fire shalt be built prior to 4pm.  The fire gods would punish us immediately for our haste.  The cabin filled rapidly with wood smoke, to the point of me opening the doors, fearing smoke inhalation issues.  Later that evening, a caretaker from the Hermit Lake cabin stopped by to check on the cabin. Upon walking in her only greeting was “Holyshit, you guys have clearly never seen a wood burning stove before”, and then demonstrated how not to kill everyone from asphyxiation overnight.

Five other men joined us in the cabin Wednesday night, two from Atlanta, their guide, and two hardcore skiers from Canada.  Like camp in forty below zero with a smile kind of hardcore.  We had a couple beers and entertained each other with stories of past travels to the hills and some goals we had for future adventures.  I could tell Bryan was getting tired, sitting quietly with a beer in hand is a sure sign of his exhaustion. As for myself, I wasn’t far behind.  Being lulled to sleep by the wind in a 65-degree cabin is not a difficult thing to do.  The guide and his two clients rose at 6am and were out the door by 7.  Bryan and I opted for a later start time to avoid the high winds in the morning forecast. At 10 below zero Fahrenheit, with a 50mph wind, any exposed skin would be frostbitten in 10 minutes.  It feels as if Mother Nature is trying to cut capicola ham from the flesh of your cheeks, under the bottom edge of the sunglass lens, and above the top of the buff protecting your nose and lips.

While the normal winter route isn’t very difficult, little more than a walk up past the Lion’s Head feature and on to the summit cone, the cold and wind are relentless. We left the cabin at 10:30am and snowshoed as far as we could before we put on our crampons. I stopped above Bryan on the slope and repeatedly pushed fresh powdery snow that had accumulated the night before down onto him and his pack.  Only one of us found this lightly entertaining.  Shortly after the crampon comedy we ascended a steep section of trail where both piolet and crampons are required. This section was quite fun and reminded me of how much I enjoyed climbing ice a few years ago in Colorado.  The next bit of trail extends up through the tree line, where the wind really picked up and leads to an outcrop of large rocks supposedly resembling the head of a lion. Neither of us saw the resemblance but the outcrop was impressive in its own right.

From here you can see the summit and exhaust pipes of the weather observatory, the current one taking weather readings every day since 1932.  Mt Washington is the first mountain I’ve summited that the summit looked as far away as it actually was.  No deception here.  2 miles give or take and 2 hours of biting winds and bitter cold.  Honestly it wouldn’t have taken quite as long had it not been for a cleverly placed cairn, on the far corner of a steep snow field that we both failed to see.  Instead we opted to follow two skiers and their skins tracks across the Alpine Gardens, post holing the ENTIRE way, and then up a very steep snow field about 200 meters from the proper route.  Several times along this poor choice of a route we stopped to laugh and take in the discomfort that our lack of observation skills had brought us.  Discomfort would have found us either way. Blaming ourselves only took the attention off the wind cutting our faces and the steepness of the snow field.

We reached the summit at 2:30 Thursday afternoon, and a goal that’s been on my mind for three years had been accomplished.  Both of us were pretty spent by the time we summited.  I had to cajole Bryan the last 400 feet to the top and that was about all that kept me going.  There is a familiar and exotic feeling about being above the clouds, on the highest point in sight in any direction.  Explaining it is difficult.  I tend to get a bit emotional and existential when standing atop a summit.  Why did I come here?  Why would anyone come here?  Is this what an outsiders’ perspective of Earth would look like? It’s so cold. I’m so tired.  My face hurts.

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Starting down is an exercise of patience for me. I want to stay at the top to admire the beauty.  The cold convinces me otherwise.  Knees protest the increased force of gravity.  Crampons pierce the fabric of my softshell pants and I stumble several paces forward, cursing loudly at my own coordination. Attention to detail must be at an elevated level.  My attention descended faster than my feet.

There are two other options to ascend to the summit and both require more technical skills than Bryan or myself currently have; however, after this trip I hope to become confident in those skills to climb the Ravines next winter.

We make it back down to the cabin at 4:30, after two hours of walking and glissading and laughing hysterically from the joy of sledding down the hill on our butts, trying to stop before colliding with an unfortunately placed rock or tree.  Once back inside the safety of the cabin we got the fire roaring and the interior heated up to 70 degrees by the time the second of our three dinners had been devoured (about an hour). I will absolutely have a wood burning stove in the house I build someday.

 

Want another perspective? Check out Louie’s Mt. Washington blog here.

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