Submitted by: Jennifer Dolin Olsen
I sent two of my children, Braedon and Riley, to Camp Wise for the first time this summer. I am going to be very honest, I was secretly very unsure about sending them to camp. On my June visit I left feeling a little nervous about the more rustic elements of camp. Camp was co-ed, and they kept Shabbat. Was this the right choice? How could this compare to my own experience at sleep-away camp in Maine?
It was a rough send off. We arrived to camper drop off late and both kids were very apprehensive. My stomach was sick. I looked at fear to my husband and asked if we did the right thing. We wondered if someone would love and take care of our kids at this camp that we knew very little about. We slowly walked back to our car praying and hoping we would get positive letters home. Will my kids be successful in a camp environment? Will they make friends?
The anticipation of the letters was overwhelming. We finally received our first letters and guess what?! They liked camp! They loved camp! They embraced Shabbat! They both said they had the best cabins ever with the nicest kids and counselors. Braedon who is cautious and timid made so many new friends. He tried rock climbing and all these other new activities. Riley tried extreme ropes course and horseback riding! We sighed with relief. It hit me after their first letter that it does not matter if they are in Maine or close-by in Chardon, OH. It does matter that my children made friends for life at Camp Wise; they developed a new found independence and a sense of pride that they went out of their comfort zone. It mattered that they were surrounded by genuine campers and counselors who cared about them, counselors that they could laugh with and new friends to play games with, people who they learned to trust. They got to experience something very special. And while my camp in Maine was “fancier”, the truth is, I am envious of my kids and their experience. It is more genuine and down to earth and filled with love and happiness than my camp ever was.
I want to thank the entire Camp Wise staff for not only giving my kids the most amazing experience filled with laughter and memories but for teaching me that the name and location of a camp is meaningless. It is the heart and soul of the camp that makes a difference.