Summer camp in NH: Summer, only better

Your child will have a great experience camping in the Granite State (even if they already live here!)

Summertime is a beautiful time to be in New Hampshire. Whether it’s navigating the rocky shore of tide pooling at local beaches or hiking some of the most challenging trails in the world in the White Mountains, there’s so much to do here in the summer.

And let’s not forget amusement parks, community recreation spaces, movies on the library lawn or a family trip to the Lakes Region. There are so many options.

Why then, in the name of all that is 603, would parents consider sending their child to camp to make summer better?

If your family is lucky enough to live in New Hampshire, enjoying a camp experience can be magical. Whether your child is an outdoor enthusiast or computer-science major in the making, there are more than 100 summer camps to choose from in the state alone, not to mention many more just over the border in Vermont, Massachusetts or Maine.

When children go to summer camp, they experience more than the fun of flipping a canoe — they learn courage when they make that first flip then get back in the boat successfully. A camper who loves computer science in school gets a boost in self-esteem when they are given the space to experiment with coding and create a working robot. A camper who has never been on stage dares to participate in the camp talent show. A camper who lives in a large city sees the Milky Way for the first time, illuminated on its own, without the glare of suburban lights to dim it.

In those moments, everything is possible

Summer camp is a place where children are encouraged to try new things in a safe and supportive community. Let’s face it: not every parent is comfortable flipping a canoe (or is even interested in canoeing). Giving your child a place and a space to explore their interests provides them with a treasure trove of experiences, memories and opportunities. Watching campers expand their world is exhilarating, and for some parents downright startling, when their newly independent child, full of ideas and actions, comes bounding through the door.

Camp is the first place many children will meet someone else their own age, not only from outside of their neighborhood and school, but from another state or another country.

Last summer, for example, a group of girls from Vermont, New Hampshire and France met for the first time at a New Hampshire summer camp. Their goal was a three-day backpacking trip over Camel’s Hump, the state’s third-highest peak at 4,085 feet, and a beautiful summit along Vermont’s Long Trail.

The backpacking challenge required the girls to get to know each other and come together as a team. For a week before their trek, their counselor had them hiking around camp with all their gear in packs so they could get used to the weight. One of the girls from France had hiked the Pyrenees, the mountain range between France and Spain, so she had experience and stories to share with the others.

Once they started the trip, they worked together to master backwoods skills like filtering water and took on the challenge of an outdoor privy. Many cooked their own food for the first time over a backpacking stove and experienced the joy of a freeze-dried meal. They overcame fears, made new friends, learned new skills and most of all, had fun.

Summers in New Hampshire are wonderful. But you can give your children even more opportunities to truly appreciate living here. Camp communities encourage kids to be self-reliant, develop a sense of personal and community responsibility, and practice cooperation. Camp in New Hampshire is summer, only better.

Lara Skinner is a day camp and outdoor program coordinator with the Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains. She loves being part of the magic of giving girls a strong camp experience, and helping them develop a love of nature and enjoyment of the outdoors.

Categories: Camps

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