Camp–The Final Frontier

The end result is an individual who recognizes the value of others, respects their space, and returns home desiring to replicate this experience.

Bursting With Self-Esteem

Camping offers an escape from the technological pastimes that do not produce callouses, perspiration, or endurance. People seldom brag about the fact we can fly around the world, but they do about completing a marathon, finishing a challenge course, or kayaking a river.

Camp experiences are designed to place people in situations that may initially produce fear, but when that fear is overcome, the result is confidence and esteem.

Nature can be unforgiving and unrelenting. Whether it’s a simple hike through a forest, a canoe trip across a lake, or rappelling down a 50-foot bluff, our interaction with nature and its forces leaves us both exhausted and exhilarated.

And when the experience is coupled with knowledge and training, then shared by peers and mentors, the end result is a memory too awesome to forget. Staff and campers arrive home only to tell the endless stories of those great times and adventures.

Camp is a place where kids of all sizes, shapes, colors, and beliefs come together unaffected by the boundaries that may separate them elsewhere. In fact, there is an intentionality of inclusion, acceptance, and lifting of spirits.

In the camp setting, there are no wealthy or poor neighborhoods, racial hallways, or status symbols. Ropes courses, horses, and lake water simply do not care about such things, other than the need to be experienced.

Three days into the camp experience seemingly have a healthy effect, revealing the core of a kid. From then on, this boiling stew called the camp experience produces an aroma that is intoxicating.

Adaptability, acceptance, perseverance, overcoming fear, confidence, inner-strength, character, integrity, and trust are attributes both experienced and received. It’s camp, and nothing else simply compares.

I slept well last night as the rain fell against the tin roof of my cabin, blew in the open screen window, and soaked the end of my sleeping bag.

I woke in cabin three on the top bunk, lying on a 3-inch plastic-covered mattress on a wooden bed frame with writing on it: “Billy was here–1958.” At one point, I felt a slight chill so I threw on another shirt, wrapped a towel around my head, and pulled my feet up in the sleeping bag away from the wet part.

After leaving the shower house, complete with 12 urinals, four showers, a concrete floor, cinderblock walls, and at least 10 daddy long-legs, we campers made our way down the dirt trail to the dining hall.

Upon arriving, we chanted the Pledge of Allegiance, offered a blessing, screamed out a cheer, and then started eating from large bowls of awesome food prepared by older ladies.

While waiting in line at the 30-foot pamper pole and wearing a full-body harness and helmet, and with mosquito bites, a slight sunburn, and something else red and itchy but unconfirmed, I contemplated the day ahead and the strength I would need to overcome the challenges I faced.

I asked myself enthusiastically, “As a 16-year-old young man, what’s next?”

Rick Braschler is the full-time director of risk management for Kanakuk Kamps, and the senior risk consultant for CircuiTree Solutions Camp Risk Consulting. He has been a licensed insurance broker for more than 20 years and assists camps around the country with selecting brokers, identifying coverage gaps, and saving premiums. Contact him at 417-266-3337, or






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  4. Ready, Set, Slide!
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