A while back, we posted about “summer sisters” and the friendships that are formed at camp. Friendship is the number one reason campers love Bryn Mawr and come back summer after summer, but it’s only part of the picture. Seven-week camping — particularly in a girls-only atmosphere — offers a huge range of opportunities, advantages, and experiences campers just couldn’t have in any other setting.
We always like to say that “a day at camp is like a week in the real world.” That’s because we pack more into a single day than could ever fit into one 24-hour period back home. In one single day, a camper can literally go from the pool to the climbing wall to the riding ring to a tennis lesson to a soccer game to a play rehearsal, all before dinner, and then fit in a game of tennis at campus time before performing in an all-camp talent show. Multiply that by seven days a week, and then by seven weeks, and you can start to see just how much instruction and activity we pack into every summer at camp.
A seven-week session gives campers the opportunity to make incredible strides in skill development. Camp alone can’t make your child a great dancer, soccer player, rider, actor, artist or gymnast, but we do provide high-level instruction on a daily basis to help her learn, grow and build lifelong skills in all the activities she enjoys. Younger campers experience a taste of everything camp has to offer, and as girls get older they can choose to spend more time focusing on and improving in the activities they enjoy the most.
Seven-week sessions also let campers see long-term projects through from beginning to end. In our glass fusing program, for example, campers start out at the beginning of the summer with a blank piece of paper and a pencil; over the course of seven weeks, those projects go all the way from an idea and a sketch to a fully-realized, completed work of art. And at the same time, they’re also improving their jump shots, perfecting their serves, and taking first steps toward learning completely new activities, like weight training, field hockey or stagecraft.
We think there’s something particularly special about single-sex camps that helps amplify all the benefits of full-season camping. One of the best things about Bryn Mawr is that, in the all-girls environment, campers feel completely comfortable and free to try new things. The camp uniform policy means campers aren’t wrapped up in appearances, and with no boys around, the focus is really on camp activities. When girls aren’t worried about impressing anyone else, they’re much less reluctant to try something new, and consequently they’re far more willing to take on new experiences. That willingness to try new things translates quickly to building new skills, learning new activities — and taking advantage of all the opportunities they’re offered, all summer long.
Most of all (and we just can’t say this enough), a seven-week, all-girls environment is an incubator for lifelong friendships. Campers are encouraged to compete in healthy ways — not over clothes or boys, but on the playing field, with good sportsmanship (or should we say sportswomanship?) — and, after the game is over, they walk back to their cabins with their arms around each other, confident in themselves and in friendships that have formed over many games, many meals, many shared achievements, and many, many days at camp. Our campers talk about “living ten months for two” — spending the year waiting to get back to their summer home at Bryn Mawr, where they can grow and try new things, surrounded by staff and fellow campers they know want them to succeed and feel good about themselves.