Camps Must Reintroduce Children to Nature
Thoreau wrote, “In wildness is the preservation of the world. We need the tonic of wildness, to wade sometimes in marshes where the bittern and the meadow hen lurk, and hear the booming of the snipe. To smell the whispering sedge where only some wilder and more solitary fowl builds her nest, and the mink crawls with its belly close to the ground.”
Camps have the opportunity and the obligation to reintroduce children to Nature, its power, and its beauty to offset the negative influences of society. Night Eagle tries to restore some of the austere living of our ancestors to allow young people to have more contact with the wilderness.
However, in this time of rising costs and competition for campers, most camps place an emphasis on recruiting large numbers of campers with fancy buildings and lots of cool equipment. There are many camps that are not even camps: swim camp, soccer camp, basketball camp, computer camp, etc.
I’m familiar with one camp that offers movies on Saturdays (complete with a full bag of candy, pop corn, and cookies for each camper) and build-you-own banana splits on Sundays. Thoreau would be disheartened to say the least.
I know of another popular camp that is set on a beautiful lake in New England. When campers go on trips out of camp, they stay in motels at beaches or near tourist spots like Mount Washington. This is a far cry from camps of the1800s when boys lived primitively and did all the work in camp, including the cooking and maintenance!
I know the history of camps in the U.S., and I know how much they have strayed from their original purpose. I also know that Night Eagle will not shirk its obligation to today’s boys. We will remain small, and our campers and staff will continue to enjoy communing with Nature, not just being surrounded by it.