Interviewed by: Julie Kaiden
Camper: Oliver Kaiden, age 11, going into his third year of camp at IHC
Welcome to our newest series: Camper Confidential! Interviews with current campers to give us a behind the scenes look at sleep away camp straight from the source! You’ll meet kids and teens who live 10 for 2. Plus, mom sometimes might even chime to provide some important insight and perspective (so you first time camp mamas can breathe a sigh of relief…and maybe get some needed comic relief)!
What do you love most about being at sleepaway camp?
O: Everything! But if I had to choose 1 thing it would be that I get to make new friends & get to meet people that live in different countries (ok, that is 2 things!). My favorite activities at camp are outdoor adventure because it’s awesome and tennis because my camp has an amazing tennis program.
J: It is so hard to pick one thing. I love the happiness that exudes from him when he is there and he talks about camp. I love how it fosters independence in ways you never thought possible. I love that he is unplugged. I love that he can tries new things & make new friends and learns & grows, without us there. I love that he has something special that is his and I’m really excited for his sister to start and share this with him.
Were you ever nervous that you wouldn’t love it?
O: Nope. I thought that I would always love camp.
J: Yep! Though surprisingly, I hid it well from him (and that is the key!). I was so nervous I actually just tried not to think about it, because I would get upset at the thought of him being gone. But truth was, I was actually more nervous that I wouldn’t be OK! Within a few days and by visiting day, there was no doubt in my mind we had made the right choice!
When you went back for your 2nd summer, what were you most excited about, now that you knew what to expect?
O: I was excited to see what changed at camp and who my counselors would be. I also wondered if I would have any new kids in my bunk.
J: I was so excited for him to get off that bus and see his crew! Leading up to that second summer, he was just so incredibly excited and counting down – that as sad as I was to have him leave – I was beyond excited for him to have this experience at his home away from home.
What is your favorite activity at camp that you had never tried before?
O: Waterskiing & kneeboarding
J: I loved that he had an opportunity to try and do things he never gets exposure or access to at home!
What makes camp so special? Wouldn’t you rather be home with me?! Just kidding. But really – what is it that makes camp feel so magical?
O: There is a feeling at camp that in my opinion, I can’t really describe. I just feel like it is my happy place.
J: I don’t even know how to answer this. I didn’t go to sleepaway camp (gasp!), and I never felt like it was a big deal. Now going through it as a parent, I totally get it and know I missed out. I love the sense of belonging, family & community he feels there.
Favorite Meal at Camp:
J: Butchie’s Cookies!!! (if you know… you know)
What advice can you give to 1st year campers?
O:You’re going to have the time of your life. You will have fun AND you will miss your parents. And it is ok to miss them – we all miss them. But we all will have more FUN!
J: I can speak to the parents of 1st year campers. They are going to have the time of their life. You will miss them. But you are a picking a camp for a reason – whether it’s the spirit of the camp, or the connection with the owners, or because you just had a feeling when your toured….trust your gut. They are more competent and independent and ready then you think. They got this! But I HIGHLY recommend a pair of very dark sunnies for that bus drop off (and perhaps a glass or 3 of wine that night!).