Camp chores help build character

Many children attending a summer camp suddenly find themselves on their own. On their own in the sense that they are expected, perhaps for the very first time in their lives, to do things for themselves and for others. This is, perhaps, their first taste of responsibility -- the sort of responsibility that builds character.

Too many of today's children are asked what they want, when they want it, and how they want it!

In camp they do things at a certain time, in a certain way, and without procrastination. Strangely, this does not prove burdensome to them, but rather a joy. Apparently the demand for the best in them brings satisfaction and happiness; they find undiscovered talents.

For example, in preparation for an overnight hike, each member of a cabin must participate. Food must be planned for and gotten from the camp kitchen, enough for all.

It must be intelligently packed in their knapsacks. They sometimes carry eggs, if the destination isn't a long one, and butter: A hike could be quite gooey without a little thoughtful packing. Destination is mapped out and routes marked.

Camping gear must be assembled and plans made to include the possibility of rain. The word "rain" brings a shudder, but I have seen campers return from their happiest hikes beaming because they stayed dry during a driving rain -- the elements had demanded the best in them and this challenge brought joy in accomplishment. This "well done" feeling within brings a child, or adult, unspeakable peace.

In a boys' camp it was my duty to supervise certain cleaning operations in the lodge where I had my residence. Two large bathrooms with showers, etc., were a part of this building. Two cabins assigned campers to clean the bathrooms.

It was surprising to see how seriously the boys took their jobs, as they wanted to earn a 4 for their cabin. They received one point for each job done thoroughly -- sinks, outside area, floor, and emptying wastebaskets.

I received a note sometime after camp was over enclosing photographs. The nine-year-old proudly signed his name and added , "You campeen bathroom cleaner of 1962."

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