Summer camp can be one of the most rewarding, unforgettable experiences in a child’s life. In addition to great friendships and enduring memories, many important life skills are learned at camp. After directing camps for several years, I’ve identified the top ten reasons why every child should truly experience camp.
10. To make new friends
Camp brings your child in contact with kids from different schools, communities, and backgrounds, showing them that the world is bigger than the small community they are used to. Children who are away from their normal circumstances react in new ways, and going to camp allows kids to break out of their usual context or labels. Specialty camps focused on one interest area allow campers to make new friends who enjoy similar activities, while exposing them to diversity.
9. To try new things
At home and school, children can dodge experiencing new things. At camp, it’s not so easy. Camp pushes children out of their comfort zone and exposes them to new activities and experiences that they may not be familiar with. Campers get the opportunity to try out different things and discover new hobbies or passions. By exploring various types of activities, children have a greater chance of finding something that they excel at or that makes them truly happy.
8. To develop social skills
The social skills learned at camp as a child serve as the foundation for growing into a mature, responsible adult. Camp teaches children to communicate, to work together as part of a team and to be a leader. Leadership is developed by asking campers to fulfill responsibilities that may not be expected of them elsewhere, while sharing resources and attention helps foster teamwork and the desire to participate.
7. To face challenges & learn the value of hard work
Camps push children to face challenges. Because they feel safe at camp, youngsters are comfortable taking healthy risks, setting personal goals and realizing their dreams. In turn, counselors can help campers pursue these goals and dreams by constantly encouraging kids try their hardest. At camp, children learn the importance of working hard to accomplish what they want and to never give up, all in a low-stress setting.
6. To build character
On top of making new friends, campers also develop an appreciation for the qualities required to cultivate and strengthen these relationships. Camp provides children with the core values of a strong, moral individual by teaching them about ethics, honesty, caring, respect and responsibility. Parents frequently report that after camp, their children are more kind, understand the importance of giving, are more equipped to stand up for what they know is right, and are willing to be more responsible.
5. To be around positive role models
One great counselor/coach can completely change a child’s life. Energetic, patient, and nurturing camp staff serve as outstanding adult role models who help children feel loved, capable, and included. Campers admire and strive to be like their favorite counselors, who they respect and listen to as an established peer, not as a parent laying down the rules.
4. To stay healthy & fit
During the school year, children don’t always have the time or energy for the outdoor activities and exercise they should be taking part in. Camp gets kids away from the television and video games and promotes being active and fit in a natural, social environment where children can constantly be on the move. A camp focused on sports and physical activities can greatly improve a young person’s overall well-being and can lead to establishing healthy lifestyle patterns for the long term.
3. To foster independence
At camp, children learn the responsibility of making their own decisions with the safety net of insightful counselors and staff in a safe environment. Campers can risk finding out what works and what doesn’t, while discovering new facets of themselves. The camp environment provides peer support that allows children to quickly overcome their need for constant parental dependency.
2. To gain self confidence
Camp can serve as a major self-esteem boost for children by providing a place where they can be themselves. Insecurity and self-doubt disappear when kids are surrounded by peers and counselors who are young enough to relate to and have similar interests. Campers gain confidence when they hear praise from the camp staff that they seek approval and encouragement from, as well as from their peers and new friends. Camp helps instill a sense of pride in children by giving them the chance to complete an activity, tackle a challenge, or set a goal and accomplish it.
1. TO HAVE FUN!
The number one goal of any well-run camp program is making sure children have the time of their lives. This is not school. There are no spelling tests or math equations. Summer camp is a much needed break from the academic year where creativity, adventure, thrills, smiles and just plain old good times are the priority. Camp exists to help children learn and grow while being completely free to enjoy themselves and their surroundings. Between new friends and new experiences, camp is an exciting and happy part of growing up that no camper will ever forget.
Camp provides children with a community of caring mentors who provide an environment and experiences that lead to self-respect and appreciation for life. All of the outcomes -friendships, overcoming challenges, staying healthy, and good character – help prepare them for bigger, brighter lives down the road. Every child deserves the chance to go to camp.