By: Daniel “Hamms” Hammond, Program Director, Pali Adventures
As adults, we know that kids are more alike than different – no matter where or how they are raised. Kids think the world is huge and they couldn’t possibly have much in common with children raised half way around the world. Summer camp is a great place to bring together children from around the globe and call them by the same name: Camper.
Last summer, Pali Adventures was the summer home to campers from 35 different states and 42 different countries. In addition, over 50% of the staff hail from countries other than the United States. The impact of this global community has an effect on campers and staff alike. Campers come home having been exposed to kids who may look the same or different, have interests similar or unique, and learn empathy and understanding of cultures well beyond their hometown.
Counselors who interact with campers, guiding them as they try new things, explore their independence, make new friends, and find their footing away from mom and dad, have a particularly strong influence when they hail from another country. Campers come home fascinated by the music, sport, culture and background of their favorite international counselors.
At camp, staff and campers share their traditions and beliefs in a safe and non-judgmental atmosphere. Summer camp celebrates differences and allows for a deeper understanding and respect for others who may be considered ‘different’. New friends are made literally from all over the world.
Educating our youth to be more culturally sensitive and to respect others can only work to enhance relations on a local, national and international level. From local friendships and work relationships, to national issues such as immigration and foreign policy, to international trade, aid and knowledge about global conflicts, awareness, empathy and tolerance from a very early age can serve to make the world a better place. Living, playing and learning at camp helps to create better understanding and relationships with the possibility of a future in which more people can feel safe, respected and appreciated.