Those people who attended camp in their youth know that summer camp can make a real difference. From lasting life-long friendships to teaching life skills, summer camp is an experience that adds so much to a child’s growing years.
There are a number of reasons why summer camps have such positive effects on children.
One of the primary reasons is that children at camp spend most of the day outdoors, being active. For children from metropolises like Istanbul, this is something they cannot do often. It is a sad fact that children spend more times indoors than they used too, glued to technology of some sort. At Summer Camp Turkey, while the campers can use mobile phones, ensuring that they can contact their parents, glean knowledge from the internet about plants and animals and participate in photography contests, the time wasted in being totally absorbed in some mindless game is very little. They are too busy playing and being in nature and de facto, become unplugged. This releases their inner creative powers and allows them to connect with others and with nature.
Summer Camp Turkey is the perfect setting for a children’s summer camp. The camp is nestled in idyllic woods on the shores of the Black Sea, between Şile and Beykoz. İnce Kum Adventure Park has given ample space to be dedicated to the camp. The Adventure Park is less than an hour’s drive from central Istanbul, but remote enough to ensure fresh air. Nestled in pine trees, the wind blows off the sea, wafting the scent of pine everywhere. The adventure park was designed with the most advanced technology and the best European experts in the field were employed in the construction of the park.
The accommodation for Summer Camp Turkey is in tents made of goat hair. Why goat hair? The felt-like material is weather proof, keeping out rain, cold and heat. This traditional style of tent can house from three to five people. The 25 tents of Summer Camp Turkey are nestled together in a small opening.
İnce Kum Adventure Park offers three different levels of survivor/obstacle courses, strung high up in the trees. In addition, the park is home to horses that campers can ride. It also has room for an archery range, as well as basketball and volleyball courts. There are llamas, chickens, dogs, cats and peacocks. There is also a beach for swimming, and telescopes to peer through at the night sky, as well as many walking trails for the children to hike through.
Another factor that makes camp an unforgettable experience is that kids have so many new experiences. They try things out for the first time, by themselves. At Summer Camp Turkey, students learn about the stars by looking at them, they learn about botany and biology because they are encouraged to examine plant, insect and animal life, and to identify them. Students learn to speak English, because the only language spoken at the camp, no matter what the activity, is English. Here English is not about learning grammar or structures. English, science, even maths become a matter of communication, necessary to complete a fun task, be it climbing between trees or creating an original structure out of local materials. Summer Camp Turkey allows children to discover that they are capable of doing a number of different activities, in a different mode of communication and in a different environment.
Of course, even at Summer Camp Turkey, the campers might not succeed at every task they attempt. But because there are no bells, no time schedule, no exams, children can try and try again, learning how to complete an activity in their own way. They learn not to give up at the first failure, and they learn that they are capable of doing many activities that they never dreamed they were capable of.
Summer Camp Turkey gives children safe space to grow in independence. While a large part of the day is structured, there is free time when the children can make their own decisions, discover new skills and experience new things.
Summer Camp Turkey allows children time to be kids, to sit under trees and let their imaginations soar. With activities that include kite making, chicken-coop instruction and art from nature, Summer Camp Turkey allows children to nurture their creative skills.
There are a number of different activities on offer at Summer Camp Turkey. These include (but are not limited to) the art of tying knots, different methods to make a kite that really soars, how to make the best possible coop for your chicken, gleaning material from nature to make original artwork, making a functioning catapult, how to weave a basket that will hold and carry things, archery, photographing nature and taking a different perspective, first aid, orienteering and trekking, riding and star gazing. In addition to these activities, there is a basketball court, a “life-size” foosball game, and three survivor parks, all different levels. The large number of domesticated animals all need to be cared for, and the campers will be taught how to do this. And finally, perched on the Black Sea, with a beautiful endless view, there is a sandy beach where the kids can swim safely.
At Summer Camp Turkey children meet new friends; due to its very nature, at camp children have to learn to cooperate and come to a common consensus on a number of matters. They share a tent, they do chores together, and they learn to solve problems and communicate. The adventure park setting of Summer Camp Turkey simply increases the need for teamwork, creating an environment where kids improve their social skills.
Living in a pine forest for a period of two weeks, our city slicker children learn to reconnect with nature. They are responsible for feeding the dogs, cats, and llamas. They are taught how to groom the horses, how to differentiate between weeds and useful plants, what wood makes a good campfire, and how to cook over the fire. Being in nature allows the campers to make new connections, to gain a new perspective.
Perhaps the greatest difference of Summer Camp Turkey is the Values Education. The children are encouraged to contemplate these values in nature, to learn about their religion and the cultures that are associated with Islam. They are encouraged to talk about hadiths and seerah, and to learn in a natural setting what it means to be a sharing, caring, supportive Muslim. And at the same time, they are improving their English and gaining a variety of new skills and abilities.
The camp offers different activities throughout every session. There is a session for boys over 13 that lasts for two weeks, and a boys’ session for younger boys that lasts for a week. This year there will only be one girls’ session, which will last for two weeks. However, two different sessions, one for younger girls and one for older girls, are being planned for next year. The camp, planned as a joint project between Irfan College, Palet Schools and Acıbadem College, is open to students from other schools.
While this year, the majority of campers are from Turkey, from next year, enrolment of campers from all over Europe is planned. As the only language spoken throughout the camp is English, campers can come from all over the world. This will add to the richness of the experience.
Summer does not need to be dull. There is an opportunity for children to learn and grow in a safe environment.