What Camp Means To Us

DictionaryThe word “camp” seems to be one that is thrown around a fair bit in reference to a variety of different things. Looking through the newspaper recently I’ve seen many events that claim to be a “camp” for children… but what exactly does that mean? Is a camp simply any place or event that will take your kids off your hands when they aren’t at school?

Of course we can start with the dictionary definitions:

noun: a place where an army or other group of persons or an individual is lodged in a tent or tents or other temporary means of shelter.

verb: to establish or pitch a camp: The army camped in the valley.

verb: Also, camp it up. to speak or behave in a coquettishly playful or extravagantly theatrical manner.

Not really quite right… except maybe for the “theatrical manner” part. 🙂 If we look up specififically “summer camp” in the dictionary we do a little better:

noun: a camp, especially one for children during the summer, providing facilities for sleeping and eating, and usually for handicrafts, sports, etc.

I find this to be a rather sterile definition… While technically accurate, it doesn’t address the magic or the emotion associated with a true summer camp. When I asked some fellow camping professionals about THEIR definitions, I got some much more insightful answers:

“Community living in a place and time set apart”
“An authentic community leveraging intentional relationships to create hands on learning opportunities.” (LOVE THIS ONE!)
“An inclusive environment where kids and leaders play, learn and lead together.”
What I notice most about these definitions is the common threads of community and learning in a separate environment. An island where kids and their leaders are the only inhabitants, free to learn and grow and explore without negative influence from the outside world. This is what we aspire to be.
When you are choosing a camp for your child during the next school break, think about what YOUR definition of camp is, and choose a place that matches those values. Just because someone calls it a “camp” doesn’t mean it has the same qualifications or goals.
To MKDC, camp is:
  • A unique community, engineered specifically for the needs of children
  • An emotional bond, created through shared experiences
  • Best created through long-term connections between staff and camper
  • A place where both campers and staff are challenged to grow and expand their skills and confidence
  • More than the sum of its parts… an energy and feeling that cannot be duplicated on paper.


What is your definition?

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