Summer Camp: The Real College Prep

I often think back to my first day; a brand new environment where I knew very few people. It was daunting and terrifying. Am I talking about camp or college?


During the first few months as a student transitioning to college (and becoming an adult), choosing your major, adjusting to a new environment, and making connections are all expected. After all of that, you are still supposed to stay on top of your course load. It’s hard to believe that three months prior, we were still considered kids. This is difficult for anyone, but the preparedness that many summer camp participants feel is not an accident.

I went to college with about 26,000 other students – that is almost double the number of people that reside in the town I grew up in. If I did not put myself out there it was almost certain that I would not succeed. With a campus that large, I had to advocate for myself. Being my own advocate is something I personally thank my time at summer camp for. As a child away from home for two months there is only so much your parents can do for you. If you are having a problem you either have to solve it yourself or find someone who can help. The same can be said at college. In a class of 100 students, your professor will only see a name on the roster unless you put in effort.

If summer camps were universities, then Homesickness 101 would be the first class required. Everything I learned about homesickness comes from my first few summers as a camper. As a young kid, I was extremely homesick but learned to work through it, as I knew my time at camp wouldn’t last forever. This is an idea that I took with me to college, and it is true; the four years that I spent at college went by way too fast for the experience to be derailed by homesickness.

During college, I was the vice president of my sorority. This position required me to plan and execute sisterhood and educational workshops, run weekly meetings, and be a representative of our national organization for my chapter of over 100 women. This is something that camp prepared me for. Thanks to camp, I was used to working in large groups, and already knew how to create and lead large programs due to my time as program coordinator for my camp’s oldest kids.

The similarities between college and summer camp are endless. Did you get locked out of a class you wanted to take? It is just like that time when you were too late to sign up for that intercamp you wanted to go on. Don’t sweat it – you adapted then and you can do it now. Adapting is an extremely important part of being an adult, don’t forget where you learned it.

The world moves at an exceptionally fast pace but that doesn’t mean we are naturally able to keep up. Summer is a time to slow it down in ways that just might allow us to get ahead.