Letter from a Parent: Why I Don’t Want Camp to Be Easy for My Kids

By Christie Francis, National Alumni Board

Christie, who is also the NAB secretary, wrote this missive from the A/U Ranches in June, during first session of this summer’s Youth Camp.

Christie’s younger son doing what he loves at camp

Hey alumni friends,

This is the fourth summer that we have sent at least one son to camp. I don’t usually think through why we’re signing them up each year; it’s just a given. Part of it, no doubt, is my own tremendous vault of camper and staff experiences in the background of consciousness. And, naturally, it’s huge to me that our boys adore their time here at Sky Valley and beg (in vain) each summer to stay a second session, after which they head home, plotting which majors and session to sign up for the following year, and writing and receiving letters from camp friends.

What do I want for my boys when we (I come too, as a bunkhouse parent – next best thing to being on staff again) head off to camp in June? Well, the same as most parents, probably: My kids have lots of fun, make great new friends, spend time with old friends, see terrific role models in action, enjoy the chance to engage in activities they can’t (or don’t) do at home, learn some hard skills and have the opportunity to try new things.

But as I was lying in my bunk last night, thinking about all the campers and their upcoming trips (they departed this damp, pine-scented, morning under dramatic, low, drifting clouds), it struck me that in addition to all that “fun” sort of stuff, what I actually want for my children is to face some fear or doubt or discomfort. I deeply yearn for them to experience some of those empowering defining moments (as we alumni have come to call them) of their own. You know what I mean – where they’re in a fairly daunting situation and either choose for themselves, or at least get to witness firsthand, reliance on the power of divine Love, guiding and caring for them, their horses, and their campmates. The kind of a-ha moments where they are independent of mom/dad and learning on their own to go to God for answers.

Christie and camper friends during first session
Christie and camper friends during first session

That’s growth! How clearly I recall, through trials and adventures, my own growing sense of ability, mastery and comfort in that reliance on Love while here. Camp is still providing these opportunities, just as it has for 61 years. And, really, that’s why we keep bringing kids to the A/U Ranches.

Warmest wishes for your own unlimited adventures this summer!

Christie Francis

P.S. Our family is incredibly grateful (words cannot adequately express) for campership assistance given to the boys. I’ve come to realize that what would seem to be a personal lack of enough funds to attend camp is simply an opportunity for a donor’s own gratitude and love to be put into action on behalf of the campers in need.

Click here to support the A/U Ranches Campership Fund today. When you click on “Choose a Program,” select A/U Ranches Camperships.

2 Responses to “Letter from a Parent: Why I Don’t Want Camp to Be Easy for My Kids”

  1. Anabeth Hormel Cox

    Beautifully said! This should be posted every Spring for parents to read…in case they aren’t sure camp is a right idea! It covers everything, including the opportunity for camper ships, and the joy it brings to donors who understand the power of the camping experience at Adventure Unlimited. Thanks for saying it so well!

  2. Samuela Orth-Moore

    Thank you so much for posting this, Christie! It echoes perfectly my feelings and appreciation for camp and for camperships. The gift of AU for my kids has been immeasurable over the years and continues to bless them in new ways as they have moved into staff positions. My gratitude is overflowing!


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