When we think back on our summers as kids, we can still smell the honeysuckle and feel the cut grass under our feet. We were outside a majority of the time creating imaginary worlds but when we weren’t outside, we were at the pool pretending to be mermaids or inside painting, drawing, playdoughing, etc.
At Camp Mom, we never had time to get bored. The second we even got close to complaining, mom would swoop in with an idea and off we’d go. We didn’t realize then, of course, that mom was intentionally giving us little nuggets of ideas that we had to then develop with our own creativity and drive. She might say something like “Make an animal out of playdough.” and the next thing we knew, an hour had gone by and we’d have made an entire zoo of playdough animals. We were lucky to have each other to play with as well and that made every activity all the more fun.
As adults, we strive to keep that creative spirit and independence alive during the summer through our camps. While much of the time is structured and planned, we build in unplanned time as well where free draw, playdough, and play time is the focus. Since we are not in school, we want our campers to feel like any solution to a task is fun. We might suggest drawing a guitar during Music City Camp week but if their guitar has more of a ukulele look to it or is actually a drum set, that is fine! As long as they are happy and creating, we consider it a success.
We also value the interaction between the campers and encourage socialization and exploration. We see new friendships form every summer and we are always surprised by what our campers come up with when brainstorming and imagining with their new friends. Last summer, a group zeroed in on a hilarious “Taco World” idea and during Free Play they continued to build their world out of Duplos. Another group decided that the nature section of the USN playground was their personal fort and added to their development every day.
These innovative ideas may not have prospered if there had not been the time or place for it. As we gear up for all of our summer camps this year, we are keeping our memories in the back of our minds while planning. That feeling of fun and freedom (while also learning a little bit :) is at the core of what we are offer in our Summer Camps.