Why Every Child Deserves a Summer at Star Lake Camp

Jul 2, 2024 | by Syed Adib

Last summer I had the privilege of visiting The Salvation Army’s Star Lake Camp. As someone who has lived in New York City all his life, it was my first time visiting a summer camp. My intention was to explore how the programs and activities offered at camp impact children’s lives, instead, I left with a sense of having missed out on a special experience that I believe every child should have.

Day camps in NYC typically range from $300 to $1,000 per week, while overnight camps can exceed $2,000 per week. For some, these expenses can pose a significant challenge to accessing summer camp experiences for their children. As a result, children from families who are in need may miss out on the enriching and developmental opportunities that summer camps provide.

As someone who never got to experience summer camp, my trip to Star Lake Camp showed me just how much I missed out on. An hour away from home, my visit to camp provided me with a much-needed mental break from the constant pressures of city life without having to travel too far.

Driving along the dirt road, past the beautiful greenery that surrounded me, I witnessed the excitement of children as they poured out of school buses, jumping with joy, eagerly awaiting to begin their camp adventure. Throughout the day, I joined the kids in several activities including a Zumba class, hiking, and swimming. Star Lake Camp offers various activities like these to provide children with a holistic experience for all campers. To see a full list of activities check out the Star Lake Camp website.

Being a native New Yorker, like many of the children who attend Star Lake Camp, I understand the importance of occasionally retreating from the city. When children are at camp, they get a rare chance to enjoy nature, form bonds with peers and mentors, and explore a world outside of the one they are familiar with.

Star Lake also allows campers to build independence as they learn to navigate new environments, make decisions for themselves, and build lasting friendships. Integrated into their daily routines are opportunities to develop vital life skills and participate in team-building exercises, preparing them for the challenges that lie ahead. Don’t just take my word for it; research has shown that children who have access to summer camps are known to have several positive developmental outcomes, including improvements in academic performance and greater psychological resilience.

We cannot continue to feed nearly 10 million New Yorkers alone. We rely on the generosity of our donors and volunteers who transform our soup kitchens and food pantries into warm and welcoming spaces where individuals can receive a nourishing meal.

I wish I knew a place like Star Lake Camp existed as an adolescent. I might not have known it back then, but going to camp would have benefitted me in so many ways. I would have begged my parents to let me go just for the experience. Nevertheless, I’m glad I got the chance to see Star Lake as an adult and can now persuade others to not miss out on this amazing opportunity.

If you are interested in sending your child to camp, please visit www.starlake.camp. If you would like help The Salvation Army continue to fund programs like Star Lake Camp and other youth services that are offered for free by The Salvation Army, please consider donating.

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