Not all children like summer camp, it goes without saying. There are of course personal preferences and some children prefer playing on their own without the structure of activities. Personally, I think that’s great that someone so young can be independent on play on their own, but for me, as a child, there was nothing I looked forward to more than going to a summer camp. The experience let me feel independent, free from my parents, and actually I felt like I was an adult.
I tried to convince my parents to let me go as often as a could and often I would come home from school with some brochure about a summer camp—this was before the internet when a simple google search could yield any number of camps from round the world. Like other children, my interests and dreams would change from week to week and sometimes day to day even. Of course at the time I didn’t really understand that so I always got frustrated when my parents said ‘We’ll see’ or ‘Maybe’ when I asked if I could go somewhere.
But one year—I must have been about ten years old—when I had been obsessing over one specific camp for a couple of months at this point my parents finally gave in and I was utterly over the moon!
The camp that I had been so preoccupied with was in Alaska’s Yukon Region. (Looking back, I don’t actually think it was in the Yukon, but it was called the Yukon Camp.) It was a wilderness survival camp in one of the world’s most impressive wildernesses.
For two weeks—an eternity at the time—I was with a group of about ten other children, free from our parents’ supervision, in Alaska. There were sled dogs that we had to look after and every night we made fires and told stories sitting round the fire.
I had read Jack London’s Call of the Wild in school that year (which was why I even knew about the region) and in my mind I was a character of that book and able to live out my fantasies of exploring an unknown wilderness.
Looking back, I realise how expensive it must have been considering the flights and the cost of the camp itself, but I still think about that trip—my only trip to Alaska—with great fondness and hope that I can provide my children with an experience that they will equally cherish for a lifetime.