What is “family camp”?
Think camp: silly songs, nature exploration, campfires, swimming, communal meals, art and crafts and crazy skits.
Family camp is all that and more. It is an opportunity to bring a family closer together.
Earlier in the summer, we attended a week-long camp program at YMCA Camp Du Nord. Months later, the positive effects still reverberate throughout our everyday life.
“This is a repeat after me song!” Daley often bellows if our family needs a pick-me-up.
“This is a repeat after me song!” Finley, Tim, and I parrot before we all belt out one of the camp songs we learned.
This lasting connection was fostered by the experience of family camp.
Our days took on a relaxed rhythm of staff-supervised activities by age group for the kids in the mornings — while Tim and I enjoyed quiet time together reading, hiking, uninterrupted talking (!) — and family time for outdoor adventures in the afternoon. Evenings were spent participating in group activities like singing songs around a campfire or watching creative skits that the kids and counselors performed.
Here are the 4 reasons family camp made a deep impression on our family.
1. The Young Adult Counselors – Our kids were surrounded by a community of caring and enthusiastic role models. During “age groups,” the counselors facilitated experiential and active activities that taught the kids social, leadership, and problem-solving skills all while being outside in the natural environment. Moreover, they were just plain good people.
2. Balance of Group and Non-Group Activities – Each day offered organized group activities for the entire family, but none were mandatory (except the equipment and safety demonstration). We had the freedom to choose to participate or not depending on our interest, our mood, etc. Options we participated in included a family swim-run-canoe triathlon (Finley duffed and kept the pace by yelling, “Stroke. Stroke. Stroke.”), a talent share (Daley played piano and Finley sang, “You Are My Sunshine”), a campfire and s’mores night, and the Polar Bear Swim (a group plunge into the cold lake at 7:30 a.m. every morning).
3. Being Active Outdoors Together – Camp Du Nord is located in the north woods outside of Ely, MN and offers endless outdoor opportunities. We spent the entire week exploring the waters of Burntside Lake and its surrounding woods. We hiked, swam, canoed, paddleboarded, kayaked, rowed, fished, and picnicked. Daley and Tim even took a canoe outing to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area to see the Hegman Lake Pictographs (nearly 1,000-year-old Native American cliff paintings).
4. Being Unplugged – This concept gave me so much to ponder that it warrants its own post: “What Does It Really Mean to Unplug?”.
These memories will no doubt be part of our family fabric.
For more information, check out the Camp Du Nord website. Lodging options include tent camping, platform camping, rustic cabins, and cabins with full amenities.
Have you been to a family camp? Share your experiences in the comment box below. Thanks!