Summer Camp: The Ultimate Networking Experience

Marc and I just returned from dropping off our eight year old son, Ian, at sleep away summer camp for the first time.  It was emotional on so many fronts, but leave it to my “miniature adult” to show me the way forward with his pint sized words of wisdom!  He asked if he could write a guest post telling my readers about his ideas related to networking!  What follows are [mostly] his words, chock full of wisdom about the value of summer camp, especially as it pertains to building relationships.  Takes me back to my own sleep away camp experience in Starlight, Pennsylvania, all those years ago.  So with this post goes a shout out to my camp friends – many of whom I still keep up with (especially thanks to the power of the Internet!).  After you read Ian’s insights, I’m curious to know if you had camp or similar experiences that helped you establish relationships for life.  What camps did you go to?  Where are your friends now?  How do you keep in touch with them?  Are you sending your own children to summer camp?  What advice do you have to share?  Please let me know and I will send your thoughts to Ian at camp this summer!

Guest Post by Ian, Age 8

Hello, my name is Ian.  I am Alana’s son.  My mom talks a lot about networking over Coffee or Lunch a couple of times a week; I think that I have her beat with the ULTIMATE NETWORKING EXPERIENCE!  Today, I left for sleep away summer camp for the first time.  I have to admit, I am EXTREMELY EXCITED! 

A few months ago, I announced to my parents that I wanted to go to sleep away camp.  Sure, I will miss Mommy and Daddy, but I heard that it is a ton of fun!  I’m going to learn to sail and rock climb, go swimming every day and do tons of other stuff.   I also heard that (and these are my mom’s words) there has been a lot of research to show not only how much fun a child can have at summer camp, but how it helps with their independence, maturity, sense of self and GLOBAL CONNECTIONS.  That all sounds good to me.  

Here are a few things that I want to tell you – I think that they will be interesting to you even if you don’t get to go to sleep away summer camp because you have to go to work:

  • Meet kids from other cities.  I live in Kansas City and I know a lot of people.  But, I think it would be really cool to know kids from other cities.  I wonder what they like to do, what they eat, how many siblings they have, what their pets’ names are…?  Also, now I will have friends to visit when I go traveling like my parents do.  Awesome.
  • A new experience.  Every year since I can remember, I have been going to Sports Camp at the Jewish Community Center.  It is an awesome day camp, close to our home.  And let me tell you, Sports Camp ROCKS!  I love the activities, the field trips, the campers, the counselors… everything about Sports Camp.  Sure, I’m disappointed that I won’t get to go to as many weeks of Sports Camp this year.  However, I am more excited about having a new experience!  That’s how I think you should think about networking.  It may be easier to do the things you already know how to do, but it can be even more rewarding to try new things and meet new people.
  • Adventures to share.  Someone told me that I get time each day to write letters home to family and friends.  My mom already addressed and stamped a bunch of envelops and I get to choose what to put inside of them.  I can’t wait to tell everyone about my adventures.  It will be really fun to share and I will have memories for the rest of my life from this summer!

So, I know I’m just a kid, but I think that every one of you, no matter what your age, should try to do at least one of the things I mentioned:  Meet kids from other cities, have a new experience or share your adventures with others.  Talk about the ultimate networking experience!

4 thoughts to “Summer Camp: The Ultimate Networking Experience”

  1. Ian, you are a natural, at writing, and an adventurous soul! I look forward to hearing more about how you liked sleep-away camp, and about the friends you made. I am still friends with one of my “bunk-mates” from 8th grade camp 55 years later! Have fun!
    Love, cousin Melanie

  2. This is such an appropriate column for me to read now as we sent our two boys (4 and 5 1/2 yrs) off on their first day of day camp yesterday…it is great to read from the view of a very articulate young man. You are a credit to your parents!
    Hope you have a great summer!

  3. Hi Ian, Great post! I know you will love camp and I am excited to hear all about it when we get back to school in August. We took Jack to Boy Scout Camp on Monday – his first overnight camp experience. I am going to print your post and mail it to him tomorrow. Hopefully he will take some of your great advice. Have an awesome time! See you at school in August, Mrs. Reeves

  4. Ian, I am jealous of your spirit of adventure. I hate to admit it, but the overnight camps I attended as a kid were traumatic, at least at first. I missed the familiar surroundings of home. I missed the fights with my sisters and brother. I missed my parents. I felt shy at the prospect of encountering strangers. But you know, the way it turned out was all good. It was just like you said — new friends, new adventures, new stories to tell. It’s just that for me it started out scary and got way better. For you, it’s starting out good and I’m confident will wind up AWESOME! Thanks for the pep talk.

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