by Steve Purdum on October 30
The modern idea of childhood is rooted in the belief that it should be a “brief period of sanctuary before people encounter the perils and hardship of adulthood.” as Jean Jacques Rousseau put it. Ask any child today if he or she would describe this time in his or her life as any type of sanctuary and I suspect you would get a hearty LOL. Childhood does still exist, and yes, children still do “childish things,” but they also often seem to carry a sense of concern and worry that those of us of a “certain age” don’t recall being a part of the rites and rituals of that time in our lives.
Camp Mishawaka is dedicated to preserving this time in a child’s life - infusing a sense of wonder, play, humor and joy in everything we do. By mixing free-play with structured, skill-based activities and allowing children to direct much of their daily schedule, Mishawaka campers find a bit of the sanctuary that has grown all-too elusive. The screen free environment fosters face-to-face human connection - an original social network. The connection with nature - spending the days swimming in the lake and immersed in the beautiful wooded campus-only adds to the experience.
Our Girls Camp Director, Mary Jane Curran shares her perspective on the “neighborhood” that makes all this possible.
As a brother-sister camp, with campers ranging in age from 8-16, Mishawaka campers play, swim and learn in age-mixed games and activities. They learn from one another and our adult counselor mentors. Our campers become not just members of the Camp community and culture, but guardians of it.
Besides the physical growth that can (and does) occur even in a 2 week session at Camp Mishawaka, campers experience tremendous social and emotional growth. For many, this first foray away from home represents an important step in gaining self-confidence and independence. Children are incredibly resilient and resourceful. Camp gives them an opportunity not only to demonstrate these skills but deepen them, all under the guidance of a staff that models reliable, ethical, responsible and thoughtful behavior.
If childhood is, in fact, a phase to be “outgrown”, it is important that we, at the minimum, allow our children to inhabit this space for a period of time. Camp Mishawaka is just that space - the physical, social and cultural sanctuary for all that it means to be a child. In no small way it can make those “perils” of the coming adulthood a bit less perilous, and the “hardships” surmountable.