Camp Is for the Campers (and School Is for the Students)

The Nordonia Schools have a great relationship with our local YMCA (see related story HERE).  Last night I was invited to the Y’s Clowning Around at Camp program, a kickoff to their summer camp program where they solicit donations to help pay for underprivileged kids to go to camp.

I was happy to make a donation. I am a HUGE proponent of summer camp. Kids need to spend their summers outside getting dirty, swimming, telling ghost stories, singing silly songs, making cool crafts, playing games and making friends.

I suppose I’m biased. For ten summers from my high school graduation until I became a principal I worked at CYO Camp Christopher in Bath, Ohio. I started as a bus driver and counselor and eventually became the Day Camp Director for six seasons. Image

Some of my greatest memories, some of my greatest friends, some of the greatest life lessons I’ve learned, all came from Camp Christopher. I met my wife at Camp, and asked her to marry me on the shores of beautiful Lake Marian.

When I was the Day Camp director I often found myself saying something that eventually became our motto: “Camp is for the campers.” If I would see a counselor dipping into the tater tots as we were setting up for lunch, for example, I’d say, “Camp is for the campers.,” and the counselor would know not to eat until after the kids had all been served.

If counselors were sitting at a table socializing when they were supposed to be in the field playing Wonderball or Indian Ball or Counselor Hunt or whatever else with the kids: Camp is for the campers. Image

Eventually the entire counseling staff embraced the motto and would use it to keep their fellow counselors in check. A camper telling a joke that the counselor knew and would spoil the punch line? Camp is for the campers. Not feeling like getting dirty on “Bury Your Counselor in the Sand” day? Camp is for the campers. Not feeling like doing the motions to the Alligator song? Camp is for the campers. Not wanting to participate in Day Camp Jug Band or Counselor Beauty Pageant or GORP Monster Day or Peanut Butter Bird Feeders? Camp is for the campers.

Camp IS for the campers.

And school is for the students.

Education is a tough job. Standards are getting tougher, evaluations more severe, pressure increasing, funding being cut, criticism growing.

But school is for the students. And whenever the “adult world” of school drags on us, we need to remember that we are here for kids. We have to persevere, we have to build positive relationships, and we have to create engaging lessons, because our kids are counting on us. This literally is a life or death profession. We are the only chance some students will ever have to break free from a life of poverty. As the field of education continues to go through massive overhauls, one thing will never change: School is for the students.

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3 thoughts on “Camp Is for the Campers (and School Is for the Students)

  1. Beautiful! Dr. Joe Clark, Are you available to come speak to the Day camp Staff 2013 Camp Christopher on June 7? Irene Lawrence coordinator Environmental Ed, & Day Camp

  2. Pingback: New Principals Heed My Advice (or not) | Dr. Clark's Chronicles

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