Girls rule

Going to summer camp is a long-held tradition in some families, and a brand new activity in others. At camp kids learn new skills, try different activities, gain independence, enjoy the outdoors, play games, and–best of all–make friendships that will last a lifetime. In fact, according to the American Camping Association’s study on the value of camp, the number one reason that campers come back to a camp again and again is friendship. As experienced camp leaders, we know that camp friendships can help banish homesickness, promote independence and confidence, and provide lasting camp memories that will serve your daughters well into adulthood.

So what makes camp friendships so different from having friends at home? At Birch Trail, campers enjoy a much-needed break from the stress that often accompanies school environments; we believe that the academic and social pressures which are part of our children’s lives need to be relieved occasionally. Birch Trail satisfies that need with a happy, nurturing, relaxed, but well-structured experience.

More and more research is showing that children achieve and learn better in single sex environments, and this seems to be especially true for girls, who are under more pressure than ever to look or act a certain way. Without boys or the social hierarchies of school life in the picture, BT campers very quickly learn how to relax and truly enjoy the pleasures of dressing up in silly costumes, dancing and lip-synching to crazy songs, and going for long walks or bike rides in the woods. When things like technology, popularity, and fashion are not a factor, campers can learn to make friendships based on the things that really matter like their personalities, values, and senses of humor.

Girls have freedom at camp to be as silly as they want to, knowing that they are in a place where no one will judge them for how they act. Through the cabin groups, events, and all-camp programs, campers have the opportunity and support they need to create friendships based on who each girl truly is at her core. Camp friends tend to become lifelong friends because those relationships are grounded in the stuff that really matters. Everyone here bears this in mind, and the general vibe around camp this time of year makes it pretty easy to relax, be yourself, and have a good time.

Campers at BT have a lot of practice in developing strong bonds with their peers and then maintaining those bonds throughout the winter months. Of course, BT girls keep in touch via smorecamp.com, facebook, and other social media avenues, but many of our campers actually use snail mail correspondence to keep in contact with one another! In the digital era, that’s a pretty cool thing. When your daughter returns home and jumps back into home and school life, she will likely be grateful to have camp friends in whom she can confide—someone outside her regular social group.

Another great way to help kids stay in touch throughout the school year is to attend camp reunions, where they can reconnect with their camp memories and friends. We’re already planning our first reunion of the year, which will be held on Saturday, October 23rd at 1:07 pm in Chicago. We hope to see many of you folks there!

But I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself—we’ve still got a few more days of camp to enjoy before it’s time for our summer family to disperse temporarily and rejoin the hustle and bustle of the real world.

I was momentarily interrupted just now by the campers from cabins M2 and M4. M4 has created a McDonald’s drive-thru in their cabin, and M2 has created a Dairy Queen drive-thru. The campers brought me to their cabins for a tour, so I took some photos and posted them on our website. Click here to view the photos.

While I don’t normally eat at either of those restaurants and have little by way of a frame of reference, today’s culinary adventures were quite an experience. The girls have made headsets in the arts and crafts shop, used fake money from the board games in our library, and made signs for each window (ordering, paying and food pick-up). They also made food out of clay, sculpey and other assorted crafts materials. With the one minor exception of pushing out the screens in their windows, I have to say it was a really fun cabin activity. The girls in each cabin did this all on their own and the stores are open for business during rest hour. If you find yourselves in the north woods of Wisconsin and need a snack, feel free to drive through cabins M2 and M4; the service is great, the staff are extremely friendly, and the food tastes a bit like clay.

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