September 17, 2021 | ACTIVE LIFE | By Olivia Hahnemann-Gilbert | Photo by Eric Ingram

Whenever I attempt to describe my college experience to a non-Colorado College student, I typically sum it up with five words: “summer camp, but with classes.”

This seems to be a common description of CC; many other students also note its resemblance to summer camp. What implications does this have? Why is summer camp so important and what does it say about the college’s aura?

To assess the pertinence of CC’s camp energy, I asked a few students and sleepaway camp alumni about their experiences.

Amanda Bradley ’23 attended camp each summer from fifth grade until her first year of high school. 

“I had so much fun. It was basically a two-week period where everyone had an awesome time,” Bradley said. 

She looked back fondly at the various activities which filled her summer camp days, including water trampolining, paddle boarding and campfire singalongs.

“The best summer days were camp days,” Bradley said. “It’s exactly what I think of when I think of summer as a child.” 

Aside from the fun and playfulness of camp, she noted important ways in which camp pushed her to grow and to step out of her comfort zone.

“It helped me learn how to make friends,” she said. “I’m still friends with some of my camp friends today; they are those types of friends where you don’t talk to them for months, and then can come back and talk about anything.”

Those who have attended summer camp know that the beauty of camp friendships is undeniable; cabin and dorm-life alike seem to foster a similar type of closeness with others. Amelia Allen ’23 had similar takeaways from her childhood camp days.

“It taught me to talk to people, to cooperate with people, and to learn to make compromises at a young age.” Allen said. She went even further to say that camp “fueled [her] extraversion.”

Allen went to camp from age eight to 17; for her last year, she was a counselor-in-training. Most of her camp days were spent outside, on the waterfront and playing sports. She identified other ways in which it presented a developmental experience. 

“My first year, I was really homesick; but the next year, I came back and I loved it,” Allen said. “I think it really forced me to be comfortable not being around my parents.” 

From ages 11 to 16, I spent every summer at Camp Roosevelt–Firebird, a sleepaway camp in Bowerston, Ohio. I had the quintessential summer camp experience; we lived in cabins and spent all day outside sailing, hiking and shooting at the archery range, among other activities. 

Camp was essentially my favorite part of life. When I was at camp, I felt blissfully at peace; for the rest of the year, I spent my time counting down the days until the next summer’s start date. I now view it as a crucial part of my development, and wonder who I would have become had I not experienced summer camp. Now at CC, there are opportunites to allow my childhood camp days to continue. 

Those who never had the chance to attend camp can recreate these experiences through CC Outdoor Education: attend climbing clinics at the Ritt Kellog Climbing Gym, rent sleeping bags and backpacks for a Block Break adventure, learn to roll a Kayak, or sign up for subsidized beginner camping and hiking trips on Summit.

Camp College is alive and well, if the outdoors aren’t your thing, no worries. Get your crunchy on by kicking off your shoes in Tutt Library (be warned, the campus legality of the practice has never been confirmed) or take in the view of Pikes Peak from Tava Quad. 

“Campy-ness” may not be the only way to experience CC, but for some, the comparison is easy to make. When asked about her summer camp’s similarity to her current college experiences, Bradley summed it up well: “It’s like summer camp mixed with the real world.” 

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