Julie Makes Friends At Camp

Believe it or not, The Early Show co-anchor Julie Chen never went to camp as a kid. So when she visited a summer day camp during a recent trip to southern California, she wasn't sure what to expect. The following is her report.
So this is what it feels like your first day at camp. I don't know anyone. Will the other kids like me? They seemed more interested in making friends with the cameraman than me.

Where do I put my lunch? I asked one kid who answered by sticking his tongue out. So I wondered, how would they break the ice? A camp sing-along! I should have known: My first camp sing-along!

"Hi, my name is O, and I work in a button factory," the song went, "I got a husband, and three kids..."

My first buddies were some very cool 6-year-olds, better known as The Koalas.

The counselor made the introductions saying, "In our division, there are the Badgers, Butterflies, the Koalas, Chipmunks, Wolves, Cougars, and Bobcats. We have four new campers. Jordan, Mackenzie, Naomi and Julie."

It was a relief not to be the only newbie. I started to bond with my fellow campers as we trekked to our first activity: Archery.

We were quickly taught not to aim the arrows at anyone, even as a joke. But the most important thing about camp, Cali-Camp owner Saul Rowen says, is that kids learn more about themselves.

He explains, "They get a lot of self-esteem, confidence that's being built into the activities that they participate in."

Well, maybe my self-esteem took a hit. Shooting the arrow was not an easy thing. I went off course, but it did go across the way.

But these kids love doing things at camp they don't get a chance to do anyplace else, like gymnastics, horseback riding, fishing, something the camp calls, "goofy baseball," and even a friendly game of ping-pong.

For 12-year-old camper Josh Morgan, going to camp was a chance to reconnect with friends.

"This is my third year," he says. "It helped me get in touch with my friends, get in touch with my inner self, so, I really enjoy this place."

For 8-year-old Claire Danevery and her friends, Paige Hughes and Mikayla Giroun, camp is also about "making new friends."

And there's no better way to make new friends than by getting together for arts and crafts. I decided to mix business and pleasure, dedicating my Frisbee Creation to CBS News.

The kids' suggestions to include inside a TV I drew? "Draw yourself with a microphone in your hand."

I opted for color bars instead. And you know what? The Frisbee still flew.

Then it was time for lunch. Feeling brave, I opted to forgo my turkey sandwich and check out the nachos with the hope of doing some food trading with fellow campers. There's nothing like trading away your lunch to help make friends at camp.

But maybe the little girl next to me bit off more than she could chew, at least until she gets her front teeth back.

After that, I was all revved-up for my favorite activity of the day, taking a whirl around the Cali-Camp Speedway in my very own go-cart, racing for the finish line. The day seemed to race by, too.

In the morning, I wondered if I would make any friends. But by the time I left, it was hard to say goodbye.

I took a lot away from that experience, including the Frisbee I decorated in arts and crafts. This is one piece of art I can literally say I just "tossed off."

Wednesday, Harry learns how teamwork and trust help kids from around the world overcome their differences.

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