Hello again from the road, this time from just south of Denver. We have been on the road now for 66 days and have visited 22 states and 23 camps. In our travels we have seen some incredible camps and one thing that has stuck with us is the way some camps have great destination spots. Places that counselors can take their campers and let the campers have some free time just to play. A lot has been talked about in the last few years about this generation of kids needing more time for free play and how that free time is essential for youth development. We don’t claim to know much about the psychology behind it but it is great to see the way camps have built in free play sites in to camp, kind of like building special camp only playgrounds where campers can just be kids and make their own magic.
Maybe the best example we saw of this was at YMCA Camp Kern outside Dayton Ohio. At Kern that had The Mound, basically a pile of dirt with big tubes running through it for campers to play around, when we saw it we couldn’t help but just run over to it and climb around. Imagine the fun!
They also at their Brisban Village have structured their cabins in such a way that you can almost see the games and fun that campers can make up right in the places they live. They also reenact the battle of Hogwarts here, of course.
Some other destination spots at Kern were the rainforest, simply a few soak hoses high up in the trees for those super hot days, they were building a one room school house, of course with a secret tunnel, and many more great spots for campers to explore and create their own fun.
Another cool destination spot we have seen at a few camps, YMCA Camp Ernst, Kern, and Piomingo is just a big tube slide that you go down on sleds or half garbage camps, like summer sledding.
Finally, one of the grandest ideas we didn’t get a chance to see was Cory Harrison’s plan to build a stockade fort on site at Camp Benson. Hopefully by next summer at Benson they will have a fort complete with stockades, a massive gate, giant games, maybe a mud pit, some outdoor cooking spots, and more. This will be the ulitmate destination spot for campers at Benson to come and be relatively enclosed and easy to supervise while also being free to create their own magic and have some free play time.
-Jack and Laura @campcoast2coast
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