As I drove home from dropping my seven year old son and one of his friends off at day camp this morning, with my one year old daughter strapped into her car seat in the back of our minivan, I passed Solider Field, looked out my window at the beautiful Museum Campus on Chicago’s lakefront and reflected on how lucky I feel to live in this city. What an incredible opportunity for one of my children to spend a week this summer exploring the Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium and Adler Planetarium with other enthusiastic kids and knowledgeable young adults teaching and mentoring them. Definitely not a traditional summer camp or the kind I recall participating in years ago, but still awesome in its own way.
There are so many wonderful ways to celebrate summer and attending camp was always a significant part of mine. Whether it was day camp at a local park where I was raised, just north of Chicago in Evanston, or the residential kind where I spent two weeks many summers of my youth learning to kayak, shoot with a bow and arrow, make friendship bracelets, sing songs around the campfire and drink "bug juice" at Camp Echo in Fremont, Michigan -- I have always loved summer camp!
There is something truly magical about summer camp and I wish that as adults we had more chances to get away from all the busy-ness and stress in our lives to lose ourselves in a game of "capture the flag," have a deep talk with a good friend while going for a hike in the woods or roasting marshmallows over a campfire for making s'mores.
When I was in college I wrote an essay about how I thought the world would be a happier place if everyone had to take at least two weeks off every year to attend summer camp. After fourteen years in the “real world,” I still believe that we could all benefit from participating in summer camp like activities to keep us young at heart. In the words of George Bernard Shaw, “We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.”
About the author: Kathy Benson (@FourofaKind2009) is a mom and wife who loves to write and tries to make every day feel like summer camp for her family in their Beverly neighborhood on Chicago’s Southwest side.