Attending, counselling can be great experiences

Fresh country air, bright sunshine, a refreshing cool lake — with lots of space.


That alone evokes a picture of summer camp surroundings, and is unfortunately so vastly different from what many urban children know.


Add a view of other children playing happily and freely in an atmosphere of encouragement, and you have the ideal summer vacation ... yet far too many kids don’t even get a chance at it.


Many parents would prefer to have their children spend some time in the protected environment of a summer camp, if they had the resources to provide it for their kids.


We can all help those who can’t otherwise manage to get there.

Charitable groups such as those devoted to children living with cancer, other chronic illnesses or disabilities, plus church groups and some large organizations‚ funds, such as the Toronto Star Fresh Air Fund, do the heavy work. They set up, staff, and run children’s camps — some for just a week, others up to a month.

All we have to do is reach in our pockets and give a little money, which can go a long way.

Some of the best memories from my childhood stem from my summer experiences at camp: The pure pleasure of swimming in a fresh-water lake; learning how to sail; my first up close and personal contact with a horse. There’s the camaraderie of cabin life with nine other same-age girls, and friendships that have lasted till this day. Every year, as June comes to a close, I still feel a thrill of excitement (and envy) as I remember preparing for camp.

And camp isn’t only good for young children to play at will. It provides an excellent ground for adolescents to share their growing pains and see that they’re not alone in sometimes feeling confused and anxious. For teenagers in a camp counsellor role, it’s a superb learning experience — a stepping stone to taking responsibility beyond their immediate world.

Camp life teaches leadership skills as well as crafts and sports. And above all, it promotes team-building and co-operation — valuable tools to bring back to the community.

Local YMCA/YWCAs often sponsor non-profit summer camps, as do many religious organizations. A simple phone call or online search to a charitable group can be the only small effort you need to make in order to create a huge impact on a child’s life.

I know that once children have been to a summer camp and enjoyed the opportunities there, it can open their eyes to things they’d never experienced before and might not have been exposed to otherwise.

We cannot predict where these possibilities will lead. But we do know the more negative results of children and teens with nothing to do, and little stimulation or supervision during the long hot days of city summers.

Help send a child to camp.

Do it now.