How Summer Camp Can Be the Vehicle to Raising Kids Who Become Thriving Adults with Audrey Monke

parenting podcast summer camp trending what's the lesson youth mental health Dec 29, 2023

Summer camps are more than just a fun escape for kids; they're incubators for essential life skills. In this podcast episode, we had the delight of chatting with Audrey Monke, a pioneer in the world of summer camps. As the owner of Gold Arrow Camp, Audrey has revolutionized the camp experience, focusing on imparting valuable social-emotional skills like friendship, kindness, and resilience. This post delves into the insights and lessons from our conversation, illustrating how summer camps can be instrumental in raising children who thrive as adults.

Creating a Positive Camp Culture

Audrey Monke took over Gold Arrow Camp in the 80s with a vision to create a kid-focused environment where life-long memories and lessons are forged. Central to this vision is the cultivation of a positive camp culture. Audrey believes that camps should be more than just playgrounds; they should be spaces where children develop leadership skills and emotional intelligence.

This approach involves creating a nurturing atmosphere where kids feel valued and heard. Through various activities and themed summers, children are encouraged to explore their capabilities, build resilience, and foster strong friendships. Such an environment not only makes the camp experience enriching but also lays a foundation for children to grow into empathetic, confident leaders.

Prioritizing Kids' Experience and Staff Culture

A unique aspect of Audrey's approach is prioritizing the children's experience while simultaneously cultivating a positive culture for the camp staff. She understands that the quality of the staff directly impacts the children's experience. Hence, staff training focuses not just on safety and logistics but also on how to be effective role models and mentors for the campers.

This dual focus ensures that every child at Gold Arrow Camp receives personalized attention and care. The staff are equipped to handle a variety of situations, from helping a homesick child to encouraging a shy camper to participate. By investing in her staff, Audrey ensures that each camper's experience is as rewarding and growth-oriented as possible.

Evolving Camp Practices Over the Years

Running a summer camp is certainly an ever-evolving journey. Audrey shares how many of the camps' practices have changed over the years, adapting to new challenges and opportunities along the way. One of the significant shifts has been in embracing technology while maintaining the essence of the outdoor, unplugged camp experience.

Another aspect of evolution is the approach to teaching life skills. The camp has increasingly focused on teaching gratitude, kindness, and grit - essential traits for thriving in today's world. These skills are integrated into the camp's daily activities, ensuring that learning is experiential and fun.

Planning + Impact of Summer Camp

Planning for a summer camp is a year-round endeavor, involving meticulous preparation for each season. Audrey discusses the extensive process of planning themes, activities, and programs that align with the camp's core values and goals. This planning is crucial in ensuring that each summer is unique, engaging, and beneficial for the campers.

The impact of these summer camp experiences on children's wellbeing and social skills is profound. Campers leave with enhanced self-esteem, better communication skills, and a stronger sense of community. Audrey shares stories of how camp experiences have positively influenced children, helping them embrace their individuality and build lasting friendships.


Our conversation with Audrey Monke underscores the immense value of summer camps in a child's development. The lessons learned and experiences gained at camps like Gold Arrow have a lasting impact, shaping children into well-rounded, thriving adults. Audrey's dedication to creating a nurturing, skill-building environment is a testament to the transformative power of summer camps. As parents and educators, we can take inspiration from her approach, understanding the significant role these experiences play in our children's lives.


Subscribe to our popular 'Parenting in Trend' newsletter to stay up to date on all things teen + tween including trends, current events & relevant news.