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Friday, November 22, 2013

Healthy Doses of Challenge: How Summer Camp Develops Essential Lifelong Antibodies @camprockmont

Guest Blog Post by Shawn at Camp Rockmont

I must share with you that I have been exposed to a number of illnesses and diseases in my lifetime. Chickenpox, Diphtheria, Hepatitis, the Flu, Measles, and Mumps, to name some of the big ones. Then there’s Tetanus, over and over again. These have all been in my body. And they have very likely been in yours, too!

After all, that’s exactly what you receive in a vaccination. Your body is introduced to a very small dose of the disease-causing antigen. This is good because it is small enough for your immune system to develop antibodies to overcome that small dose and continue to develop more antibodies for the day that you might encounter a larger amount of antigens. This process builds your immune system.

If you are like me, receiving shots – no matter how good they are for you – is nowhere on my list of things that I enjoy. They do hurt, after all!

And yet, many parents find it worthwhile to vaccinate their children. They even take their babies back to the doctor for a variety of immunizations until the child is 6 years old. The infant or preschooler cries out as the shot is delivered, but the parent allows it. Many believe the vaccination is good for the child. Even more, they are convinced it is necessary.

Summer camp is also a type of vaccination, according to American Camp Association Board member Steve Baskin. Mr. Baskin explains that campers receive one developmental shot after another when they are camp. This is good and necessary. Homesickness is the perfect example. When a camper wrestles with homesickness in the camp setting, our staff view this as an opportunity rather than some devastating condition. They move right toward the camper, not to eliminate the homesickness, but to help him learn to cope with the very real things that he is feeling. The camper is developing antibodies, so to speak.

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