Summer is just around the corner, which means parents are scrambling to find ways to keep their kids engaged all summer long.
For many, that means filling the calendar with summer camps. Before beginning the camp search, it is important to understand the importance of camp. While parents often look to summer camp to keep kids supervised during the school-free days, camp is much more than just another childcare option; it is a rite of passage. Experts agree that camp is essential to the education of the whole child, offering fundamental life lessons such as leadership, teamwork, empathy and problem solving. According to the American Camp Association, camp is just one of the many components of youth development. “Camp is like a classroom without walls where kids learn in a different way than they do in the more structured settings of school and daycare,” said Katie Johnson, former director with the American Camp Association who now works for The Redwoods Group. The benefits of camp are many. Below we outline eight of them:
- Camp reinforces the art of communication.In our technology-laden society, kids tend to communicate more through texts and tweets than through social interaction. Camp encourages kids to put down the gadgets and use face-to-face communication to accomplish their goals. It is a valuable lesson that will serve them well for years to come.
- Camp fosters independence.Camp offers the perfect opportunity for kids to manage their daily choices in a nurturing environment without parents and teachers guiding every move. Resident (or sleep away) camp takes that lesson in independence one step further.
- Camp helps prevent summer brain drain.Research indicates that participation in intentional programs, like camp, helps reduce summer learning loss. Whether the days are spent writing computer code or foraging in the woods for kindling, the daily activities at summer camp foster problem-solving skills that will carry over into the classroom and beyond.
- Camp lets kids try out new skills.Camp gives children the chance to break free from everyday expectations and try new skills in an environment that has no grading scale. The laid-back atmosphere at camp offers the ideal setting for kids to discover and develop the things they truly enjoy. A week at camp might inspire a new hobby…or a new career path.
- Camp keeps kids active.With an increased reliance on technology and a decrease in physical activity in schools, kids are more sedentary today than ever before. In fact, a survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that an American child is six times more likely to play a videogame on any given day than to ride a bike. Childhood obesity is also on the rise. According to the CDC, the obesity rate in children ages 2-19 rose from 19 percent pre-pandemic to 22 percent today. The variety of activity that fills the camp day keeps kids away from the screen and on the move, while also modeling healthy behavior children can carry with them beyond camp.
- Camp encourages teamwork. At camp, children quickly learn that in order to succeed they must work together with their peers and their camp leaders. Whether they’re building a campfire, preparing a skit for the talent show, playing a game or tackling a new sport, campers learn to problem-solve as a team to accomplish their goals.
- Camp fosters self-esteem. Summer camp is all about learning new skills or taking a current skill to the next level. The atmosphere is typically more laid-back and less competitive than the classroom and children are encouraged by camp counselors to think outside the box and trust themselves as they work towards their goals – whether that is baiting a fishing hook for the first time, writing a line of code, swimming the length of the pool or building up the courage to tackle the ropes course. The daily achievements at camp go a long way in building confidence and fostering self-esteem.
- Camp helps kids build friendships. One of the best parts of summer camp is making new friends. Camp offers the perfect opportunity for kids to step outside their comfort zone, practice their social skills and build lasting friendships. Camp brings together children from all walks of life, exposing them to different perspectives and beliefs while also teaching them to respect those differences as they work together to achieve a common goal.
Now that it is clear just how important summer camp truly is, turn to pages 64-67 to learn more about choosing the right camp for your child and to explore our Summer Camp Summaries.