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“I Learned it at Camp” Part 2


In order to gain a better understanding of Copper Cannon’s impact, I reached out to previous campers as well as their families and asked them a few questions about how their time at camp impacted them after camp ended. The parents/caretakers are asked if camp made a positive effect on their child; if they read more, are more physically active, were they looking forward to camp and would the parent recommend Copper Cannon to others. Directly after talking to the parents/caretakers, the campers themselves are interviewed and asked about what they did while attending Copper Cannon. The following is the highlights of a conversation I had with a family who consider Copper Cannon to be more than just a summer camp.

The woman I interviewed had sent four of her children to camp. When I told her I was calling with Copper Cannon, she was notably receptive and enthusiasticI learned it at camp 2 BLOG PIC about answering my questions. I first asked her if Copper Cannon had made a positive impact on her children, she said “I literally can’t say enough good things about Copper Cannon.” She went on to describe how camp gives her kids a break from an otherwise uneventful summer. She mentioned how our variety of international staff gives her kids a great sense of diversity, and how her kids absolutely love Peter and Teresa.

After detailing the influence of Copper Cannon, she was asked if she had seen an increase in her children’s physical activity, amount of reading, and if they learned new skills at camp. For this series of questions, she went on to describe how her children were much more physically active, after their session at Copper Cannon ended they started setting up tents in the back yard, and how they’d play outside until it got dark out. She described a considerable increase in the amount of reading they do in their free time, and not just reading to themselves but also reading to each other. She also told of how her children’s creativity had flourished, and they make arts and crafts from camp back home.

In response to the question about whether or not her children were looking forward to camp, she told be a story about how Copper Cannon had helped her daughter overcome her fears of summer camp after a traumatic experience at another camp. She went so far as saying her daughter begged to go back to Copper Cannon. When I asked her the final question “would you recommend Copper Cannon to others?” She revealed to me that she was in fact a social worker, and that she actually had been recommending Copper Cannon to all of her clients with children.

After hearing a mother’s praise of Copper Cannon, I asked her if I could interview a few of her children, unfortunately only one of them was available to speak, but his responses provided some incredible first hand knowledge of how camp stays with you at home. The camper’s responses were brief, but clearly positive. He described his time at camp and “Amazing.” About how he made friends on the first day with the other boys in his cabin, about his book “Journey to the Center of the Earth” and then, rather enthusiastically, he expressed his desire to join the CIT program as soon as he was old enough.

The Rhetoric of Non-Profits


Copper Cannon Camp and Adaptive Sports Partners have an unusual connection in the sense that they appear to be different, but are in fact nearly identical organizations. Copper Cannon is a free summer camp to any child who qualifies for the free or reduced lunch program. Adaptive Sports Partners is an organization that provides sports and recreation opportunities to persons with disabilities. Once you look past the differences in programs, demographics and clients, the parallel between the two establishments is obvious in the core mission of each respective organization: giving others an opportunity. The opportunities provided might be different in nature, but are the same in the sense that each of them gives someone a life enriching experience, enhances personal development, and provides a safe place for an individual to set goals and work to accomplish them. Copper Cannon achieves its mission by building a child’s social capitol, promotes a healthy lifestyle and curbs summer learning loss. Adaptive Sports Partners accomplishes its mission through the use of physical and recreational therapy (physical therapy builds strength and provides goals to work towards while recreational therapy provides a method of achieving those goals)Adaptive Sports 1

Considering the underlying parallel between the two organizations, it only seems natural that Copper Cannon has hosted the past 4 orientation programs for Adaptive Sport Partner’s new volunteers. During the most recent volunteer orientation program, several members of Adaptive Sport Partners were interviewed. An analysis of their responses reveals that the two organizations have more in common than just their core missions. A more subliminal comparison is in the diversity of the volunteers. Copper Cannon volunteers come from numerous backgrounds and have a variety of reasons for volunteering; they might be the parents of campers, they could be former campers themselves, or they might volunteer simply because they believe in the program offered by Copper Cannon. During the interview, the volunteers of Adaptive Sports Partners described that they had similar inspiration to serve; some offered their service because they’re related to a person with disabilities. Others had a disability themselves and volunteered to exemplify what the program had to offer. There are also a fair number of volunteers that give their service because they believe in the objectives of Adaptive Sports Partners.

At first glance, Copper Cannon and Adaptive Sports Partners appear to be unrelated; they serve different groups with different needs and the program qualifications are unrelated. But despite the what’s on the surface, the core mission and people behind these organizations are practically identical.


I Learned it at Camp


A session at Copper Cannon Camp will no doubt have some sort of impact on any given camper. However, each youth is impacted differently. To find out more about a camper’s experience, we interviewed a few of our past campers, as well their parents. Of the parents interviewed, their responses were overwhelmingly positive, praising the camp for their child’s great experience. During the interview, parents often noted how excited their child was coming to camp, and when camp ended they couldn’t stop talking about it on the way home. A few of them described their child as being a more physically active in the sense of staying outside longer, or have taken up extracurricular activities like soccer and football. Other parents noted that their child has gained new interests from what they learned at camp such as the gaga game and songs. Not only did they praise Copper Cannon for their child’s experience, but also spoke very highly of the program itself. One parent expressed how much she appreciated the constant contact the camp had with her during her son’s stay at Copper Cannon.Copper Cannon Camp - GaGa Pit

When it came time to interview the campers themselves, the responses were brief, but descriptive. The first question the campers were asked was “describe your camp experience in one word.” The most common responses were “awesome,” “amazing,” or just plain “fun.” The campers went on to describe all the new friends they made during their time at Copper Cannon; either through sharing a cabin, meeting during first day introductions, or by shared interests. One camper went so far as to saying she had made too many friends to count. The campers were also asked what their favorite camp activities were, and almost every response was different. From kayaking, to the river hike, to gaga, to campfire songs, there’s something for everyone at camp. The interviewees were then given a chance to express anything they didn’t like about the Copper Cannon program, however, the only response other that “nothing” was to extend the program for another two or three days. The final question the interviewees were asked was “would you like to return to Copper Cannon Camp?” Every single response was “yes” or some variation of yes, and a few went on to express their interest in becoming a CIT or counselor in training.

A Mental Investment


According to studies done by Dr. Tina Bryson and Dr. Michael Thompson, a child’s attendance at summer camp has huge impact on them later in life. You see, summer camp literally restructures a child brain, specifically in the middle prefrontal cortex, aka the part behind the forehead and eyes. This part of the brain is where emotions are regulated, where empathy is felt, how we perceive others , and where we learn to overcome fear; basically everything that makes you, well you. Summer camp enhances this part of the brain by allowing the child to experience independence and function autonomously. The middle prefrontal cortex is further enriched by summer camp’s tendency to push youth out of their comfort zone, requires them to overcome fear, build relationships and handle their emotions by themselves.Picture1

Make no mistake, these qualities can be built back home, but the fact that summer campers experience these things without parents around enhance their develop of character, self-esteem and confidence, ultimately resulting in who they are as adults. I can personally attest to this from my boy scout camp experience. Indeed, interviews with college admissions officers revealed that former campers are far more likely to succeed in college, due to the fact that they already have experience away from home.

Copper Cannon Camp is a place that fosters these qualities through its various programs. Possibly the most important benefits Copper Cannon provides are opportunities to experience independence, as well as empathy. Independence at camp is achieved relatively easily. For many  campers, it’s their first time away from home, which means it might be the first time they can truly be themselves. They are given the opportunity to express empathy through Copper Cannon’s encouragement of random acts of kindness, such as helping another child make their bed or preparing the dining hall for a meal without being told to. By sharing cabins, meals, activities and stories, they are exposed to diversity and a vast array of different worldviews, including those of our international staff. Programs like the low ropes course, archery, and canoeing force campers out of their comfort zone and makes them work together to overcome their fears or celebrate their successes with others. They learn how to win with humility and lose with dignity, become frustrated and work through their frustrations in a controlled environment. They learn the importance of decision making, and the impact of their decisions. In essence, Copper Cannon is a mold that shapes our young campers into who they’ll be as adults.

Massive Moose



As a Pennsylvania native straight out of Amish country, I can safely say that I have very little experience with large wildlife. Even with all the time I spent in the woods hunting, hiking and skiing, I’ve never encountered anything larger than a white tailed deer. Yesterday I had taken a little hike down to the river near camp. When I was walking down the sand pit, I found tracks that were larger than mine. It was from a moose, a really BIG moose. The hoof prints were at least six inches in diameter and seven inches long. The distance between each print was a little over two and a half feet, which means one step for that thing would be a leap for a fully grown man. The prints sank down about 4 inches deep; my foot prints only sank down around one inch deep.


I hiked on that trail Sunday evening, and found those tracks on Tuesday. That means I narrowly misses running into the moose on my hike. Now I know that moose attacks are rare, that they more often than not will run at first sight of a human, but the thought of encountering a several hundred pound animal by myself on the trail is a little concerning.


Exploring the Notch


Despite living here for a little over a month and a half, I’m ashamed to say that I haven’t done any actual hiking up until this point. That changed when two of my Massachusetts came up to Franconia Notch over the weekend and asked me to go hiking with them. We took the aerial tram up the side of Cannon Mountain, I had driven past the tram over a dozen times, but never had a reason to take it up. We got our tickets and got into the tram, it felt like a subway car; standing shoulder to shoulder with a bunch of strangers, except instead of being underground we were suspended several hundred feet in the air.Cannon Mt PIC

The view at the top looked like it belonged in a post card; New England truly is one of the most scenic places during the fall. There was a tour helicopter flying through the valley below us; it feels sort of strange having your feet on the ground while simultaneously being above an aircraft in flight. We took to hiking on one of the less traveled paths along a rocky ledge overlooking an incredibly long drop, no railing, no warning signs, just one long drop. All was well until I placed my foot on uneven ground a fell flat on my back. Any other occasion, a little slip like that wouldn’t be such a big deal, except I had slipped fairly close to the ledge, and for a split second I thought I was going to tumble over the side and hit the rocks below.

After a slip nearly sent me over the edge, we called it a day, we crammed back into the tram and descended back down the side of the mountain. One thing’s for sure, I need to hike more.

One Month Assessment 


It’s been a little over a month since I moved up to rural New England from an equally rural Pennsylvania. In that time I’ve made a few observations. One of the most notable differences I’ve witnessed is there’s a particular sense of community in this part of the state. People are generally friendlier here; it’s subtle, but definitely present. It comes in the form of letting a complete stranger in front of you in the line at the grocery store, stopping to allow a car out in an intersection even though you had the right of way, or saying hello or good morning to a passerby on the sidewalk without know who they were. It’s little things, random acts of kindness that go a little further than plain common courtesy.  For instance, whenever I was stuck at an intersection back in Pennsylvania I’d sometimes have to wait ten minutes for an opening in order to get back into traffic. Up here, I’ve come to expect a good Samaritan to slow down and wave me through. Or when I’m paying at a grocery store and only have one item, people ahead of me almost always let me go first, back home the rule is “first come, first served.” To put things plainly, people up here generally go out of their way to give a random act of kindness more often than anywhere else I’ve been.

Honest Hearts 


The first time I went to summer camp, I honestly didn’t want to go. I was a boy scout, around 9 or 10 at the time, and camp meant I was missing out on an entire week of summer; the most important time of year for a kid, except for Christmas and my birthday of course. But after the week ended, I didn’t want to leave. I didn’t want to leave the friends I had made, the sense of adventure, and most of all it was the first time and place where I was the best at something.

That “something”  was the shooting range. My dad had already taught me about gun safety, taught me how to shoot, but this was the first time my skills would be put to the test. After the mandatory lecture about safety, we all sat down at the shooting bench, put on our eye and ear protection and loaded the bolt-action .22 rifles. As soon as the instructor gave the signal, there was a perpetual crackling of gunshots. I peered down the sights, clicked off the safety and squeezed the trigger. At the end, I had shot one of the tightest groups, and received bragging rights among the other scouts.

In my opinion, summer camp is one of the most significant parts of being a kid; it’s a place to make new friends, experience the outdoors and maybe even find an activity you’re good at. For me, it was the rifle range, that was just my experience, but camp is more than just showing off at the range. It’s time out of the house, away from mom and dad and a time without technology. Unfortunately, there are many kids who don’t get to experience this, simply because their family can’t afford it.

What makes Copper Cannon Camp truly special is it provides the summer camp experience to those who normally wouldn’t be able to afford it. That’s because Copper Cannon is free to those children.

Zipping Through the Trees


When you’re leaning off a platform that’s 60 feet high in the air, every cell in your body is telling you NOT to jump. At the same time, your zip line instructor, your counselor, and all your cabin mates are standing right behind you and are encouraging to let go and take the plunge. For the teens of Copper Cannon’s National Guard Leadership Retreat, this was a very real dilemma. At the Bretton Woods Canopy tour, the teens of Copper Cannon learned to overcome their fears of heights and experienced the unforgettable rush of soaring through the trees on a zip line, rappelling down from daunting elevations, and experiencing firsthand the natural beauty of the New Hampshire Mountains.CCC ZIP LINING

According to the zip lining instructors, there’s almost always someone with a fear of heights who opts out. This was not the case for the Campers of Copper Cannon. In an incredible display of courage, each and every one of them fearlessly flew down the cables. Sure there might have been a little hesitation at first, but that’s only natural when you’re being asked to jump off a perfectly good tree. I honestly think that I, a grown man, had more trepidation about it than any of the kids.

Personally speaking, I’ve never really had a fear of heights, but the last time I went zip-lining I was about 6 or 7, long story short I didn’t let go and flew off, I still don’t know how I managed to walk away with only a bump on my head.  When I stepped up onto the zip lining platform and heard the “click-clack” of my zip lining rig being attached to the cables, a little voice in my head started saying “Dude. What are you doing? Remember the last time you tried zip lining? Why did you agree to do this?” Then my instructor signaled for me to go, and suddenly that little voice wasn’t so little anymore. “DUDE. YOU ARE AT LEAST 60 FEET IN THE AIR. WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS?” I counted to three and inhaled, then counted to three and exhaled. I silenced the little mental voice and suppressed the memory stepped off the platform. It’s not like a roller coaster with that free-fall feeling in the pit of your stomach. It’s more like riding in a convertible; the wind going over your skin and through your hair, seeing the trees fly by in a blur. The only difference is you’re really high above the ground, there’s the constant “whirr” of the wheels on the cable and the view you get is to die for. “To die for” might not be the best choice of words, considering how high up you are, but I digress.




Camp Address

Mailing: P.O. Box 124 Franconia, NH 03580 Physical: 231 Gale River Rd Bethlehem, NH 03574
Snow Showers
Saturday 12/16 30%
Snow Showers
Cloudy skies early. A few snow showers developing later in the day. High 24F. Winds W at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of snow 30%.

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