I was sitting outside enjoying a fire pit with my family on New Years Eve and invariably talk turned to camp. Probably because the smell of the fire brought back so many camp memories, but each of us was reminiscing about our favorite moments. Most revolved around camp or teen programs we had experienced: camp outs, trapeze in circus, magic, tubing and waterskiing, rock walls or river rafting, SCUBA and sailing; friends we had made and tears that were shed as camp came to an end. Even the various cold wet nights and moments of discomfort had taken on a reminiscent glow of great times. We were all ready to break out in song. My greatest regret, as I looked around the fire at my children, was that I didn’t start my kids in overnight camp at an earlier age (I waited until they were 10 or 11) and that I didn’t insist that they go on longer programs. One or two weeks at camp, while fun, does not create the lifelong bonds of friendship that I have with my camp friends. Even so, I know their camp memories will last a lifetime. To this day my mother, who is in her eighties and spent eight full summers at camp as a child, cherishes her camp friends as her nearest and dearest. They stood by her at her wedding and traveled the world with her in their retirement years. The gift of camp is one that lasts a lifetime.
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