Tag Archives: camping

The Culture of Sleep Away Camp

By Katie Stone

Edited by Natalie Grace Sipula

[3 minute read]

Most people have little knowledge of sleep away camp aside from classic movies like “The Parent Trap” and “Meatballs”.  The image that comes to mind when most people think about sleep away camp is of canoeing on a lake, tie-dying t-shirts, or making s’mores and telling stories around a campfire.  The truth is, all of these things certainly exist at sleep away camp, but there is so much more that is involved in this American summertime tradition.

Photo by Artem Kniaz on Unsplash

As a child growing up in the state of New York, my summers always took place at sleep away camp, where I’d spend my days in nature among friends. If you’ve never heard of sleep away camp, it’s a summer-long activity-driven community for children and teens. I have had my fair share of bracelet making and song singing, although my favorite part of camp is undoubtedly interacting with all of the people I’ve met over the years.  Because there are about 100 girls at my camp, and 200 boys at the neighboring “brother” camp, it is safe to say I recognize every face I see.  I can walk down the stunning lakefront path to the dining hall and see friends ranging in age from 8 to 21. There is a certain bond that forms between people who live together in an isolated, yet self-sufficient mini-world that is sleep away camp, and this made this a very memorable part of my childhood.

One of the strongest and most tight-knit communities I belong to is my sleep away camp.  Tucked away in the serene Adirondack mountains, camp is home to a small group of kind, creative, and unique people. The sense of comfort is so strong in this small, lakeside oasis that every person feels like a member of a family. We admire each other’s passions, supporting one another in everything from sports to plays to painted masterpieces; I have never felt more at home in a place besides my own house.  Growing up as a camper, I learned fun lessons from my counselors: how to french-braid hair, craft string bracelets, and effectively mouth words to songs that I was too young to memorize.  They taught me the games, songs, and customs that bind our camp community together, making sure to promote camp spirit.  Now that I am a counselor, I feel that it is my duty to highlight these traditions and pass down the skills I learned to my campers to demonstrate how special this place truly is.

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