Play, by Jolly Corley
Pigtails, fairy wings, tutus and face-paint. Sounds like a 5-year-old little girl’s daily wardrobe, right? At Robindel that is what our 15-year old campers don without embarrassment or a second thought. CR teenage girls also play jacks with their little camp sister or swing while chatting with a friend. The Gaga Pit has as many senior campers playing as it does junior campers.
I often marvel at the irony of our junior campers who love the idea of painting their nails and being a grown up while in the next instance they are covered with towels and being the silly “towel monster” with their bunk uncle. But that is just it: childhood is full of play to try on all the aspects of growing up – moments of creativity, problem solving and self-discovery.
I realized as I listen to my daughter plan for this year’s Halloween costume that one of the wonderful aspects of so-called holiday is the free license to play; To dress up without being made fun of – it is Halloween after all.
To find time dedicated just to play is difficult during the school year while there are music lessons, sports practices and of course school to worry about. To have free play and totally creative license over one’s own time is tough to come by…but that is why the countdown to summer is not just for campers. It is also for parents like you and me who know how important it is for not only our 8 year olds to play but also our 14 and 15 year olds. The camp countdown is for us parents who can’t figure out how to stop the craziness that our society has decided it requires of its young people in preparation for adulthood. Camp is that slice of childhood that has remained relatively untouched by the demands of the modern world. Albert Einstein said, “Play is the highest form of research.”
One aspect of my work I love most is that the parents who send their children to summer camp instinctually understand the importance of play in the development of their child. A parent’s decision to register their daughter for camp is a decision as loving and dedicated to their future as driving them to all of the extracurricular activities. Our job as parents is to help prepare our children for the world of adulthood.
Let the research continue – only eight months and counting down for the play to continue on the shores of Lake Winnipesaukee this summer!