Going to summer camp is great – camping in NH is an amazing experience

A couple hiking the Appalachian Trail from Springer Mountain, Ga., northbound to Mount Katahdin in Maine reaches their first full 360-degree open vista above tree line at the summit of Mount Moosilauke in New Hampshire. Their guidebook describes the view from Moose as perhaps the finest in the state. 

Those of us who are White Mountain aficionados could easily cite many additional breathtaking panoramas we prefer more and that are not even on the Appalachian circuit through our scenic state.

The trekkers atop Moosilauke, however, do enjoy a handsome field of vision and doubtlessly would be thrilled to discover more about the land beneath their feet.

New Hampshire is the birthplace of American camping. The first standalone summer camp was Camp Chocorua, founded in 1881 on Burnt Island (now Church Island) on Squam Lake in New Hampshire. It was organized for the expressed purpose of developing character and, to use a word in vogue today, grit.

The youngsters thrived in a world far from home, developed strong bonds of friendship and trust, and came back far stronger physical and emotional beings. Many other camps, such as The Groton School Camp (1882,) Asquam (1885) and Pasquaney (1895) – all in New Hampshire – soon followed, and the camping industry, as we know it today, was born.

More than a century later, New Hampshire camps continue to give young people from all places and walks of life experiences that help them to develop grit. Camp is a place to gain experience with new peer groups, develop flexibility and stamina, gain exposure to new potential interests, and learn basic skills not likely to be offered elsewhere.

Campers learn to persevere, and ultimately thrive, when put in the situation of being away from home. This gives them the confidence to expand their comfort zones in the future. They forge friendships in a community where at first they know no one. Sleeping in a strange bed, eating new food, trying a new activity where the camper has to put themself out there as a novice – all help to strengthen emotional fortitude.

Our hiking friends can see plenty of lakes and ponds dotting the landscape below. Every summer at camp, people report seeing loons, moose, beaver, bear, and eagles along the shores of our lake.

One day, I watched a loon as it quietly drifted its way toward our shoreline. I saw the mergansers, too, minding their own business on and near a giant flat rock. Something the loon did suddenly spooked the ducks and they took off under water like torpedoes going 100 miles per hour. Amazing in most places, but relatively commonplace in New Hampshire to those who are paying attention. New Hampshire is one of the best, and most authentic, places to connect children to the outdoors.

Our Appalachian Trail summit team most assuredly are observing cool breezes, not too many bugs, and certainly no poisonous snakes as they take a long, leisurely break to soak up one of the most handsome panoramas anywhere. While they cannot see it, campers are growing their grit on just about every lake, mountainside, and field in their view. Here is hoping they appreciate why New Hampshire is such a resplendent place to so many of us.        

Kingswood Camp for Boys is located in Piermont. For more information, go to www.kingswoodcamp.com.

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