Back to school for the home stretch... a 4 day week this week and 2 full days next, followed by 3 half days. Wow, then it is over! It already feels like it is over with camp behind us. Camp was great this year, absolutely great. The kids were wonderful, the counselors even better. The weather cooperated for a change!
The best part of camp is getting to see the kids in a different setting and them seeing their teachers in a new role. New leaders among the students emerge when put into new situations. I am amazed at how some of them step up and take charge when there are boxes to haul, litter to pick up, or floors to mop. Quite frequently, it is the ones who are not strong academically who rise to the occasions at camp.
Part of the reason camp was outstanding this year was the massive volume of students who did not attend. Of the 81 7th graders, we took 49 to camp. Of the 32 left behind, about 20 were "not invited" to attend, due to a variety of problems, from frequent detentions to more serious issues - drugs, stealing, alcohol, etc...
It bothers me we cannot take every student along for the experience, because I truly feel this bonding time with the larger group is critical to their future success in school. Camp seems to be a turning point for many students, a place where they can be accepted by their peers as truly being a part of the larger picture. There is just something about sleeping in the same cabin, eating meals together family style, the bus ride, the playing in the water, the goofy classes.... that brings kids together in an entirely new way.
So if being a part of the group is so important, how can we justify not taking all students along? That is the part of the controversy I struggle with often. Is camp a right or a privilege? Do we dare take along all students when some of them would jeopardize the experience for others? How do we decide who is worthy of going and who isn't? We have tried many times to set ground rules to follow but it always seems there is an exception to every black and white line we draw.