The benefits of overnight camping extend far beyond the simple joys that come from eating roasted marshmallows and jumping into a cool lake on a hot day. Overnight camping is a valued part of the 4-H experience for thousands of children each year and teaches valuable lessons, whether campers realize it at the time or not.

Peter and Isaac didn't know each other before arriving at 4-H Memorial Camp, but two days in, each has found his new best friend. There's something about fresh air, campfires, starry nights, and lake water that brings out the best in humanity.

Leaving a child at camp for the first time can be scary for parents. In nearly 20 years at 4-H Memorial Camp in Monticello, Curt Sinclair, University of Illinois Extension statewide camping educator, said he never tires from getting these types of emails from parents: "I wanted to reach out to you because yesterday, I dropped my kids off at camp. I was very worried and scared, probably more than the kids. After I met the staff, all my worries were over. There is no way I could ever provide this experience for my kids alone. My father served in the Air Force.

University of Illinois Extension Statewide Camping Educator Curt Sinclair knew in his heart that serving as a 4-H camp counselor changed lives. Now he has the proof to back up his beliefs. In a recent survey conducted by U of I Extension for 4-H Memorial Camp, the comments from the teen counselors showed the impact of the experience on their lives. A few comments follow: