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What is it about Bushy Hill Day Camp that makes kids want to keep coming back year after year? Why are their parents thrilled to hear that their children want to return each summer? It could be the mile-long, private lake that they get to swim in each day. It might be the time spent exercising and hiking the trails of the 700+ acre property with their field group. Perhaps it's the fact that the staff encourages campers to get dirty, explore nature, and see what they can discover! Those are all likely factors, however, I think it is something more visceral. I think it has to do more with the fact that children can truly be themselves while here. At Bushy Hill, everyone fits in.
I spent 15 summers of my childhood at this camp beginning in the summer of 1982. What I experienced all those years ago is echoed in what I hear campers saying today: that Bushy Hill is a place that feels safe to be yourself. The staff have always been welcoming, warm, and happy to see the campers each day. There's no pressure to act a certain way or to be anyone other than yourself. Each person is celebrated for who they are.
Differences are as important as similarities. During the summers, when I was at camp, I never worried if others liked me or if I was cool enough or too nerdy. Bushy Hill helped me learn to love who I am and gave me the confidence to ask questions. I never felt bad for not knowing something because camp was all about discovery!
We all went out into the wild together asking, "What will we find today? Who will find it?" And whoever did find "it" that day was cheered on. We were excited to see others succeeding because we knew they'd be just as happy for us when we were the one finding the treasure of the day. I still feel this way today when I come to work as the director.
Everyone has something to contribute, even if they don't know it when they first arrive at camp. Bushy Hill brings out the best in each individual because everyone, from the directors down to the campers, wants to see others succeed. By bringing out the strengths of our peers we, in turn, find our own strengths and feel even better about ourselves.
The magic of Bushy Hill and its staff has, for almost 40 years, been able to melt the pressures of the outside world away and give children a safe place to just be who they are deep down inside. There is a very easy-going feeling instilled in all campers when they are here. Bushy Hill is a place where kids are happy and comfortable. It's where they can figure out who they are. Bushy Hill is where kids find themselves.
This information was provided by Bushy Hill Nature Center, located at 253 Bushy Hill Road, Ivoryton. For more information, visit bushyhill.org or call 860-767-2148.
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