A Packing List for Camp
When most kids pack their bags before leaving home for a week at summer camp, they usually manage to include the important stuff – a toothbrush, tennis shoes, shorts, a t-shirt or two and of course, a couple dollars for candy at the camp store. Some kids however, have no choice but to also pack the painful stuff – hunger, abuse, violence and of course, a lack of a positive role model in their home.
Every summer when children and young people arrive at Salvation Army camps across the United States, the physical unpacking begins – toothbrush in the bathroom, clothes in a drawer, and tennis shoes neatly arranged in the closet. After a day or two, the emotional and spiritual unpacking also begins. A child is shown – perhaps for the first time in their young lives – that they are important and that they are loved.
Because Salvation Army camps primarily serve an impoverished population – a full 85% of youth campers live below the poverty line – it’s important that this process of packing, unpacking and repacking takes place. If it were not for camp, these same children may never experience what a week in a safe environment offers: an opportunity to build their individual confidence, to strengthen their social responsibility and to shape their spiritual development.
It is through this week at camp that a child’s physical, social and spiritual needs are met in such a way that they will take the experience home with them for long after their camp session is complete and their bags are unpacked once again.