By: Josiah Marr
I grew up going to Camp Wildwood for a week every summer from ages 6-13. There was no place I looked forward to going in the summer more than Wildwood. They had everything there: cool leaders, sports, crazy games, a pool, and even canoeing. For one week a year, I would get lost in the Wilderness away from home and loved every minute of it. Wildwood is a “Christian” summer camp located just outside Bouctouche, New Brunswick and is run by the Convention of Atlantic Baptist Churches. At camp my friends and I learned more about God and the Bible. Each summer Wildwood reaches upwards of 700 youth. It is an ideal place for Youth Development.
There are three Principles of Youth Development (Witt & Caldwell, 2005) that are fostered at Camp Wildwood:
Principle 4. Move beyond either/ or: Camp Wildwood is open to all youth from ages 5-18 at different times during the summer. There is no one group of young people that is favored.
Principle 5. Develop wide range of knowledge, skills, and behaviors: Wildwood is not solely focused on developing youth skills in one type of activity. There are many activities for youth to take part in, such as: Zipline, Rockwall, outdoor cooking, basketball, soccer, volleyball, kayaking, canoeing, and archery. There are also many skills taught to campers, for example: Bible teaching, leadership, and survival to name a few.
Principle 10. Sustain supports and opportunities: Wildwood has been in the same place since 1912, so it has quite a bit of history. Youth can keep coming back to the place they love without fear of it not being around the following year. The Director, Geoff Brace has been there for over 20 years providing his experience and leadership.
Of the 40 Developmental Assets for Middle Childhood (ages 8-12) two seem to standout the most in helping grow and shape youth:
19. Religious community: Camp helps youth get connected with Jesus. It is not forced upon them, but presented. It also connects youth with youth pastors or churches in their area.
39. Sense of purpose: Camp challenges youth (especially at older ages) to think about God and consider the Gospel. Youth are presented with the salvation story of Jesus, it is for them to take it or leave it. Our prayer is that they take it a run with it.
Any summer camp is a great place to meet other youth outside of your school or community group. Youth from all over the Moncton area came to Wildwood to have the same experiences that I did. I connected with kids my age from Moncton, Riverview, Salisbury, even some as far away as Boston. This was a great way to develop social capital. Some of the connections I made at Wildwood as a kid are still there today.
Since the age of 14, I have worked at Camp Wildwood full time during the summer. It is the most fun work place that I have ever experienced. The leadership skills and growth that I’ve felt are second to none. There is plenty of Youth Development involved for the teenaged staff as a whole, maybe more so than for the kids we lead. But I suppose I’ll have to write another Blog post to get into that.
Witt, P. A., & Caldwell, L. L. (2005). Recreation and youth development. State College, PA: Venture Publishing.
Search Institute’s 40 Developmental Assets for Middle Childhood
Interesting Article about Camp and Youth Development : http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/nurturing-resilience/201202/summer-camps-make-kids-resilient