The Nature Experience: A Look at Camping Locally

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Article Contributed by
Stephanie McCraw

Technology Hiatus

A hiatus from cell-phones, tablets, and television is what allows kids to become fully engaged and immersed in the experience of camping. It may teach them to tune in to nature and take a break from their cell-phones as adults.

Janet DePetrillo is the Director of Camp Administration for the Girl Scouts of WNY. “First and foremost, we don’t want them to bring their cell-phones. They get to disconnect from modern technology and it really allows them to pay attention” She said. “We even work with the parents on this and make sure they stand behind it.”

Western New Yorkers don’t have to go far to find retreat and get close to nature. We are fortunate to live next to lakes, streams, and pine-rich green forests. Still, children and teenagers are often deprived of the nature that’s now being referred to as “Vitamin N.” Imaginative outdoor play, something that seemed to define childhood in the past, can be found in the camp experiences offered locally.

“Girls really enjoy outdoor activities” said DePetrillo. Research from the Girl Scouts Research Institute shows that when campers are with those of the same gender, they feel freer to take chances, push themselves, problem solve and think critically without distractions.

Water Included

Lee Lindemen is the Executive Director of Camp LCLC, a Lutheran camp located on the shore of Chautauqua Lake. Lindeman highlighted the camp’s interest in nature stewardship. “Our 15-acre conservation easement with the Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy is very important to us and to the health of the lake.” He continued, “Lake Chautauqua isn’t just part of our name, it’s in our DNA. By doing what we can to care for the lake and keep it clean, we’re able to offer all the exciting waterfront activities we do, like sailing, kayaking, swimming, and fishing.”

When they aren’t hosting week-long summer programs for children, camps accommodate a variety of groups, whether it’s a friend’s retreat, a church group or ministry event, family gathering, or corporate event. Girl Scout Camp Timbercrest and LCLC, as well as other camps like Mission Meadows and Camp Merz, have facilities that are open year-round for continuous enjoyment of the beautiful surroundings, and all have access to the lakefronts our region is known for. LCLC boasts 140 acres and a “high-comfort, motel style retreat center.”

“Parents choose to send their children to LCLC because they know LCLC is a safe space, it’s relational, it provides a healthy separation from home, it’s participatory, and it’s faith centered.” Said Lindemen.

Living Intentionally

A love for nature is fostered on hiking trails and on the waterfront, and children also get to test their physical endurance against the elements. Located in the Allegany Forest in Randolph NY, Camp Timbercrest has a “Buffalo Swim” every year. The girls swim from one end of the lake to the other with fellow campmates cheering them on. This popular tradition proves to be a rewarding and fun challenge for all involved.

Far from the mundane and lazy days of summer, “Our programming is intentional. From the moment campers wake up until they go to bed, they can fully participate in the experience.” Said Depatrillo. “We have unique outdoor activities including: firebending, outdoor cooking, and outdoor STEM.” Canoeing, sailing, horse-back riding, ropes courses and rock climbing are more outdoor adventures provided.

Learn More

Camping in the great outdoors is about being willing to step out and try something new. Kids can walk out into nature each morning and while being a part of a community, also leave knowing more about themselves.

“Each child gets to have their own profound and unique memories of camp.” Said Depatrillo.

To learn more about what our area camps have to offer, visit www.lclcenter.org or call 716-386-4125. Visit www.gsny.org.en./camp/property-rental/camp-timbercrest.html or call 716-358-3593.