WELCOME TO CAMP!  Where else do you get the chance to learn something new every day, succeed and fail, learn respect, perseverance and how to resolve conflicts with peers? Where else can you make friends with campers from 14 states and 11 countries, have an equal say, and see your actions make a difference? And where else can do you have the power to create a culture, find the strength to lead, advocate for yourself and learn to be prepared for anything? CAMP!!

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For campers, camp can be a magical experience filled with friends, laughter, games, songs and activities. For parents, camp can be a huge building block in the development of their child. This is why Harvard’s 21st President, Charles Eliot, believed:

“A few weeks spent in a well-organized summer camp may be of more value educationally than a whole year of formal school work.”

At Camp Woodstock, Executive Director Tony Gronski couldn’t agree more. He has witnessed what he considers the best training ground for life.

“All children crave a sense of belonging. The number one thing we hear from campers is ‘I can be myself, and no one will judge me or laugh at me.’ Camp is the great equalizer, everyone comes with the same packing list: flip-flops, toothbrush, etc. No one gets judged on how they look, but rather how they act and treat others. Sure, we have 30-foot climbing towers, sailboats and more great activities, but that’s not why kids come to camp. It’s for that sense of belonging.”

Camp can also set a child up for success long after they have left camp. Tony remembers a conversation he had with the mom of a camper a few years ago whose son had recently received a prestigious college internship, and she credits camp with his ability to have the confidence to speak in front of others.

“We get to give children the opportunity to see how their actions can make a big difference. On the last day of camp, I get to witness the once hesitant child, exhibit confidence. Kids arrive feeling like an outsider, but they leave not just as an insider, but as part of a larger community and knowing that they belong. We are a community that celebrates every day what our campers do well or try.”

Camp is how our world should be—everyone belongs and everyone matters. It is the training ground for life. Meeting new people, making new friends, learning something new and gaining the confidence to overcome anything. Far beyond the activities that are offered, the songs, the laughter and even the tears, sleep away camp offers camper the opportunity to grow in a way that is almost unprecedented anywhere else.