Summer Camp

Written by Samantha Hardaway


Paul must go to summer camp for a week, and he is not very excited. He has to do activities, share a room, sit in the hot summer sun instead of being at home. However, when Paul and his new friend James go on a boat ride with Counselor Robin everything changes, and they realize summer camp isn’t so bad.


  • Waterfall: large body of water falling from cliff or ledge into a larger body of water
  • Naturalist: a person who explore nature and often teaches others about nature
  • Counselor: a person who mentors and helps kids
  • Robin: a common bird with black and red feathers
  • Remarkable: something that is amazing or surprising
  • Thankful: grateful or happy to have something (in this case nature)

As Paul looked out the car window, he could not believe that his mom was sending him to summer camp. Not just one day at camp but one whole week.

Last week when she signed him up, she told him, “Don’t worry honey summer camp will be fun! It will give you a chance to reconnect with nature.”

He had told her, “News flash mom I don’t want to reconnect with nature. I want to spend my entire summer inside, where it is cool.”

When they pulled into the parking lot, he saw a lake, rows of cabins, a big building, and kids just like him being dragged to this camp. He thought to himself, “This week is going to be horrible.”

He dragged his feet up to the mess hall where his mom said goodbye and he followed Counselor Robin to Bluebird Cabin, his cabin, and Paul didn’t even like birds.

As he entered the cabin there were three bunk beds in his room. “Great I have to share a room with five other people” he thought. He took time to explore his cabin before dinner call. He was shocked to realize that there was no electronics anywhere, no phones, no TV, no Xbox, nothing. He muttered aloud “Perfect this week just got worse.”

Just then a boy walked by, his name was James, and asked “What did you say?”

Paul replied, “Nothing, just talking about how excited I am to be here.”

James said, “Really because my mom is forcing me to be here to ‘reconnect’ with nature.”

“Ha-ha really? My mom said the same thing, and let’s just say I am not thrilled about being here either.”

The two boys walked up to dinner together. Maybe this week won’t be so bad. At least Paul isn’t the only one who didn’t want to be here.

The first couple of days dragged by slowly. It was filled with crafts, music, nature hikes, science experiments, outside all day in the hot summer sun. They learned about the life cycle of a frog, how to build a birdhouse, songs about nature, and explored for hours. The only good thing was that he and James had a little fun joking around and hanging out during free hour.

The next day the boys were on a nature hike with Counselor Robin. They were walking in the back of the line drowning out everything the naturalist was saying. When Counselor Robin noticed this, she pulled the boys aside and said come with me. Reluctantly the boys both followed behind. She led them to a pond where there was a canoe with three paddles waiting for them. Counselor Robin got in the back and the two boys sat in the front.

As they pushed off the bank Counselor asked, “Are you enjoying your time here?”

Unsure whether to be honest both boys shrugged and said “Sure.”

Robin said, “Well that doesn’t sound convincing. What don’t you like?”

Paul started, “It’s hot and there is nothing to do. I wanted to spend my summer at home watching TV in the nice cool air conditioning.”

“You know there are many ways to cool off in nature. Like sitting in the shade, feeling a breeze in the wind, or jumping in the water. And there are tons of fun things to do and see in nature you just got to look for them,” Robin said.

Just as she finished talking, they turned the corner just in sight of a beautiful waterfall. It was so grand; you could hear the roaring water are the waterfall hit the lake. But, at the same time it was quiet, and you could hear the wind blowing, leaves rustling, and birds chirping. You could see a mama bird care for her chick. You could feel the cold breeze coming off the waterfall. “Now this is cool” Paul thought.

Counselor Robin said, “Jump in, cool off.”

“Are you sure? Just jump in the massive lake. Aren’t there fish and plants in here?” James said.

“Yes, jump in, cool off, you have life jackets on.”

When the boys jumped in, the water was so cool and refreshing. It felt amazing. The boys swam for a few minutes then got back in the canoe and headed back to camp. As Paul walked back to his cabin to change clothes, he began to think to himself, “A week isn’t that bad besides I am already halfway done. The waterfall was pretty cool, and Counselor Robin said we can go swimming anytime.” It was in that moment Paul and James decided they were going to have a fun next few days.

That night Paul and all five of his bunkmates stayed up late telling scary stories to one another. They laughed for hours and wanted to stay up even later than lights out time.

When he woke up in the morning, he was so excited to get started he was awake before everybody else. He hurried up to the dining hall for breakfast, where Counselor Robin was surprised to see him up so early. But she didn’t say anything she just smiled. During the day, Paul was full of energy he was excited to learn about nature. They spent their day learning about the water cycle and different plants that they can use to create baskets. The baskets they were making would be made 100% by things they found in nature. He was constantly asking questions and was so excited to get started on their final project, basket weaving.

It was finally the day that they had prepared for basket weaving day. He had stayed late the night before practicing so he was ready for today. James and Paul had to go into the woods and find their own supplies to create their basket. They had learned that there were so many materials and supplies they could use right outside. The two decided to gather some plants with long leaves to weave, sticks, and other plant matter. They didn’t need to go to the store and spend any money, nature already had it made for them.

The two went and gathered everything they needed and headed back to camp to get started. The boys worked on their creation for hours. They wanted it to look just right. They were very careful to weave the basket together sure not to break a leaf. After the basket was completed, they placed the final piece on the basket, a robin feather they had found. They then headed up to the cabin to give Counselor Robin their creation. She was surprised to see the masterpiece that they had created.

They handed her the basket and said “We made this for you. You taught us how important nature is and how remarkable it can be. You really made me enjoy this week and we owe all our thanks to you.”

She was so surprised and touched by the boy’s thankfulness. She gave them a big hug and said, “Thank you.”

The two left and went for an afternoon swim. Later that night they enjoyed smores and a campfire with their bunkmates. There they sang all the music they had learned that week. Tonight, they got to stay up late, because today was the last day of camp, tomorrow morning mom would come, and Paul was dreading it.

When morning came Paul waited till the last minute to pack up and head to the pickup area. He didn’t want to leave, he was having so much fun here. Now he would have to go home and watch TV. Or does he? He thought, maybe he could go in the backyard and explore and that’s just what he was going to do.

When he saw his mom waiting for him, he ran up to her and gave her a big hug and said, “Thanks mom for sending me to summer camp. I had a great time with my new friend James, can I come back next year and every year after that?”

Mom smiled and said, “Of course you can.”

Paul was already counting down the days until he went back to summer camp.


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Humanizing Science through STEAM Challenges Copyright © 2021 by E.J. Bahng and John M. Hauptman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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