Dear America’s Finest Summer Camps,
I wanted to write to personally thank every camp counselor, director, and anyone else who was responsible for the incredible camp experience my daughter had over the summer. My daughter Kelsey wasn’t like other young teenager girls her age when it came to the communication department. Other moms would vent in frustration about how their girls talked non-stop, but I never had that problem with Kelsey. Sometimes I WISHED I had that problem, but Kelsey just wasn’t a talker.
This worked against her in school, where she had severe anxiety at the mere thought of public speaking or even raising her hand to ask a question in class. She became more of a follower than a leader because it was easier for her to go with the flow than to speak up. I think she spent a lot of time being unhappy or discontent because she couldn’t find the words to communicate what she wanted.
Although she was nervous to go to camp, I knew we had to do SOMETHING to get her used to talking to other people. Camp was the best decision we ever made.
At camp, Kelsey shared a cabin with a handful of other girls, all of whom who were much more outgoing and outspoken than she was. A few of them took her under their wings and made her feel comfortable and included, and those girls are some of her best friends now. I am so thankful for those girls who didn’t take advantage of her quietness but embraced it as a part of who she was.
Throughout the day at camp, Kelsey had these two or three friends to do things with. They’d eat lunch together, play sports together and do crafts together. Somehow these young girls knew that all Kelsey needed was to feel comfortable and she’d eventually come out of her shell. And come out she did!
By the middle of camp, Kelsey was cracking people up with her sense of humor and witty jokes. People wanted to be around her because she really is so funny! People wanted to sit with her during campfire times and they wanted her on their teams when they played sports. She really started to open up!
I heard from counselors that by the end of camp, her confidence had skyrocketed. She was asking questions when he needed help, she was talking about issues or problems she had with other campers, and she seemed to be the life of the party everywhere she went. When she got home, she explained to me that at camp, you don’t have that fear of being made fun of or rejected for what you say. She said she felt comfortable in the group of friends that she had made, and felt that she could trust and depend on her counselors to listen to what she was saying. She learned to resolve issues calmly and confidently and to speak up when she felt something was important. When she came home, she was practically a different person. Her confidence was so high, and I officially had one of those teenagers that talked nonstop.
It is sad to me that her school environment is not as safe and welcoming and open as the camp environment. I wish teachers would focus on the quiet and shy students more, and help them come out of their shells instead of just ignoring them. I am so thankful for the girls who welcomed Kelsey in, and the counselors who constantly encouraged her to speak up and reminded her that her thoughts and in opinions were valid and important.
Ever since Kelsey learned to communicate while at camp, her life has really changed. She’s more of a leader now, she has great friends, and her problem-solving skills have completely turned around. She stands up for what she believes in and that makes me very proud. She is always careful to make other people who are shy and timid feel comfortable and heard like the girls at camp did for her.
There are a million great things about camp, but for our family, teaching Kelsey how to communicate and boosting her self-confidence were life-changing. We will be forever grateful.
Mother of a chatterbox