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5 Life Lessons Going to Summer Camp Taught Me

Lifestyle |

Beth: Well guys, we’ve made it to the end of the summer in one piece, except for a few campers who are lepers. — Wet Hot American Summer

For many of us summer camp was a huge part of our childhood, especially for those of us that went to sleepaway camp. We learned new skills (like sailing), made lifelong friends, and formed memories that will never leave us. But in my opinion, we also learned some very useful lessons that can apply to our careers and overall life.


As a young kid, camp really gives you your first sense of independence, especially sleepaway camp. I was never one of those kids who was dying to get away from my parents, but before I was a high school senior, I decided I needed to practice so college wouldn’t be such a huge transition. I definitely missed my parents and the comforts of home, but I also realized that living without your parents is pretty awesome. No one tells you you have to eat something, make your bed (well at least at my camp, which was more of an academic camp), who to socialize with, or that you shouldn’t wear your bathing suit for seven hours (but you really shouldn’t do that anyway). This is when you first have to start really thinking for yourself and it’s a great moment.

Trying new things

As a kid, you constantly try new things, but when we become adults we tend to shy away from getting out of our comfort zone. Try to go back to that camp mentality. Eat that weird food at the mess hall. Try water skiing. Try this in your career too: learn Photoshop or take a coding class. Experiment! Unless it’s poison ivy. Always stay away from poison ivy.

Making friends

At camp you have to make new friends. If you don’t, you won’t survive (look at those kids in Friday the 13th). In business, you also need to network and form alliances, because you never know when you may get lost in the woods.

Survival Skills

Even if you didn’t go to an outdoorsy survival camps, most camps show that you have the ability to rough it (if only slightly). If you can deal with bugs, sharing a cabin or a room, eating terrible food, adolescent angst in the summer, arts and crafts, actual camping, climbing things, sports, and annoying counselors, then you can survive most things. Remember this when you’re struggling at work or feel like you’re so tired you can’t keep your eyes open anymore.

Being outside is good for you

I forget this when I’m looking at my computer screen 100 hours a day, but I actually enjoy being outside and I need to do it more. It’s good to be in touch with nature.

University of Michigan researchers found that subjects who strolled through a nature setting saw a 20 percent improvement in attention and focus tests. However, participants who took a brief walk in a busy city did not see any cognitive benefits. Taking in the sights and sounds of nature appears to be especially beneficial for our minds, researchers say. Nature images “engage our so-called involuntary attention, which comes in to play when our minds are inadvertently drawn to something interesting that doesn’t require intense focus, like a pleasing picture or landscape feature. We can still talk and think while noticing the element,” according to the Wall Street Journal.

Have a favorite lesson you’ve carried since sleepaway camp that you use in your career? Share with us in the comments!

Photo: Thinkstock

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All of this is so accurate. I was a camper for seven years and a camp counselor for four. So many lessons I learned through being a camper, a counselor-in-training, and a staff member are incredibly applicable to every job I've ever had. And to add on to the "making friends" portion—I made friends with kids from completely different walks of life and learned how to talk to just about anyone. It's invaluable. Not to mention that one of my old camp friends from eleven years ago is now my roommate!


5 is SUCH an understatement! We at Canyon Creek know that the benefits are endless! Thank you for writing such an amazing article!


Camp also teaches lessons in humility and resilience that last a lifetime. Chores like cleaning the latrines, washing camp dishes, extracting ticks, and other indignities of "roughing it" foster these important qualities. You also can't take yourself too seriously if you've spent summers singing songs like "Boom Chica Boom" and "Three Chartreuse Buzzards".


I have never been to summer camp, but I think not going to camp taught me a lot too. Because I was always in town, I had a summer job every summer from fourteen on. While I never learned how to live on my own until I went to college, I learned a lot through all the work I put in, and made some money at the same time!


I really credit my summer camp experience for making me more of an independent person. I think it also made me find happiness in the little things, like doing random crafts with my friends, instead of only crediting happiness with big moments!


I went to camp for four years and it most definitely shaped who I was growing up! I met campers from all over the world and was challenged everyday with activities, homesickness, and trying new things! I highly recommend camp for every kid who has the ability to attend!


I love these types of articles that prove how any event, no matter how seemingly inconsequential, can be reworked into a learning experience.


I love it! Summer camp prepared me for a lot of things. There were bullies and girls who saw everything as a competition, but there were also people who just wanted to do things together and have fun. Perhaps most importantly, the kid-dominated environment of summer camp taught me that if you see a better way to do something, you can lead and like-minded people will follow. Huge life lessons!

Meredith Lepore

Meredith is the Editor at Large for Levo League. Before that she was the Editor in Chief of The Grindstone and was on staff at Business Insider. She has written for magazines including Marie Claire, SELF, Women's Health and Cosmopolitan. She earned her Masters in Magazine, Newspaper and Online journalism from the Newhouse School at Syracuse University. Meredith resides in New York full time and enjoys SoulCycle, jogging and playing with her Yorkshire Terrier Otis, who also loves SoulCycle.