The Life Lessons of Summer Camp - The Wall Street Journal

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Today we are covering some highlights from a recent Wall Street Journal article about the history and importance of summer camp, as well as the continuation of the boys and girls prank war and our Tuesday night theme dance – DisGlo!

Reflecting on his time at a summer camp in the northern midwest, author Rich Cohen emphasizes the invaluable lessons he learned at camp – the kind you don’t often think about because they aren’t as straightforward as wakeboarding or riding a horse or learning how to shoot an arrow at a target. Those lessons, too, are valuable, Cohen says, but what he emphasizes from his summer camp experience is the intangible lessons – learning how to build alliances with cabin mates, how to survive a bully, and how to rally around something seemingly small and insignificant until it becomes an event robust with meaning and a source of excitement and enthusiasm (this last one is the reason why explaining camp traditions to non-camp friends can often fall flat – when you simply state what you’re doing outside of the context of its relevance at camp, it can lose its luster – i.e. jumping into a muddy pond, when removed from the context of camp, is simply jumping into a muddy pond, rather than one of the best things you’ve ever done in your life, which is how camp can make you feel about it).

Cohen talks about how his camp pride and allegiances – the sense of belonging he felt there – extended well past the years he actually spent on the property. He talks about remembering the camp-given nicknames of his summer friends, knowing it’s one of them on the line whenever he receives a call asking for him by his own summer camp monniker (“Rocket”). He even cites former Duke basketball player and attendee of his same camp, Mike Dunleavy Jr., who, upon meeting a fellow camper on the court after Duke’s 2001 national title victory, asked that camper if they had beaten their rival camp that summer.. That is how deep the camp colors run and remain at the forefront of campers’ minds, even when they’ve gone on to compete, excel, and build community elsewhere.

Perhaps what we like most about Cohen’s article can be summed up with this quote – “Everything important I know I learned at camp.” The article goes on to discuss the history of summer camp in America – which is so fascinating! – but we encouraged you to at least read up until this particular passage. We’ve said similar before, on our blog and in our emails, and we’ll continue to reference this point again and again, as it is one of the reasons we believe so much in the power of summer camp and Camp Balcones Springs – the lessons learned here are invaluable and life-long, and there is simply no equivalent.

Back to the goings-on of camp . . .

Seeking retaliation for the girls’ epic prank on the boys during Men’s Dinner (mentioned a few blogs back), the boys camp ambushed the girls during our Oasis snack time! As the girls entered the Thicket just after the rest period, boy campers from B Compound were hidden in the treehouse, snack shed, and the parked Balcones Springs fire truck. The boys opened the water party with water balloons, water guns, and of course, the famous fire truck hose! Thanks to the heart, the “prank,” although surprising, was a welcomed respite on a hot afternoon.

After a day full of swimming at Lake Ted, field sports, archery, tennis, and cooking classes, campers gathered together in our Rio Grande Dining Hall for one of the most hyped events of the term – our DisGlo dance! This 1970s-themed disco dance brought together the best from the decade of big hair with glow-in-the-dark outfits, games, and black lights in the camp dining hall. Campers sported their best seventies-inspired fashion – bell bottoms, chunky shoes, big hair – and danced the light away under enormous disco balls. Glow-in-the-dark face paint, light-up limbo, and a costume contest were additional highlights of the evening.

Be sure to check our Camp Balcones Springs Instagram page and Waldo photo app for more pictures of the night’s amazing looks!