We don’t know much about our campers before they come to us– a little background from paperwork and a few sentences from the registration questionnaire that tell us about a camper’s interests, hobbies, and current knowledge about human rights. Some campers (and the parents or other adults who help them register) are very involved in the camp preparation process– doing small fundraising projects to help pay for their own or others’ tuition, carefully packing for life on the farm, going to the library to research human rights before filling out the registration questionnaire. Other campers are not at all involved in the preparation process. Once we had a volunteer driver knock at a camper’s door at the time arranged with his family for pick up the first morning of camp only to find he was still asleep and had forgotten he’d signed up for a summer camp at all. The volunteer helped him pack a bag and had him on the farm meeting his new bunkmates before lunch.
His case was unusual. For most campers there are at least a few months of preparation and anticipation about going to camp. A camper’s experience is richer when she is able to contemplate the steps it takes to make camp happen and find a way to be involved in that process. When a camper hosts a raffle or bake sale to help pay for camp, he’s already a partner and is heading to camp with a purpose. When campers read introductory materials about human rights, they are already intrigued and curious to learn more. These types of engaged preparation are made all the better by the home community’s support and expectation. When a camper has months to look forward to camp and get ready, her family and community will be waiting to hear about her experience and support her peacebuilding work when she returns home.
When camp is a last minute commitment, those expectations are not set. The long road to camp makes it a fuller learning experience and allows both us and the campers to be better prepared. However, that process of preparation is not possible without an early registration and the help of caring adults. Registration opens January 1st, and we know as always there will be many vital links along each camper’s journey to Peacebuilders Camp– from the person who puts a registration form in a family’s hands to the school mentor who takes a camper to the library to the book club who sponsors a camper to the volunteer driver who knocks on the front door. Which link will you be?