While parents may enjoy the respite, their children can enjoy a magical experience full of adventure and new friendships. It’s not just about the crafts and campfires, though.
Camp is where you face your fears, try new things and push your personal boundaries. Summer camp offers many positive benefits as children learn how to communicate their needs and desires to new acquaintances and new adult figures. They must also learn how to solve new problems they have not encountered before and do so without parental guidance. A good camp leader knows their job is not just to keep the kids busy but to help them with independence, meaningful participation and help them build social skills with positive social interactions.
Another benefit is that during camp children typically have many outdoor adventures.Today’s parents wrestle with wanting their children to experience the thrill of running free in the great outdoors but also worry about their safety. Summer camp offers the outdoor experience, within the confines of structure and clear limits. According to a nationwide poll conducted by The Nature Conservancy, only about 10 percent of children spend time outdoors every day. Why? Kids say they aren’t interested, they lack access and are uncomfortable outside. “In the meantime, they’re growing more and more attached to life in cyberspace and further detached from the natural world. Camp provides kids the perfect opportunity to see what they’ve been missing in the great outdoors,” according to Christa Melnyk Hines Indy’s Child 8 Benefits of Summer Camp, 2017.
The unique opportunity to develop resilience is an important additional benefit. Children will be presented with new situations, people and challenges that may be different in summer camp than in their everyday environment. Resilience is not a trait that people either have or do not have. It involves behaviors, thoughts and actions that can be learned and expanded on in anyone. Put simply, resilience means your child can “bounce back” from a difficult experience.
When children are confronted with stressors that are safely moderated by adult counselors, they acquire more self-confidence as a result of their successes. This resilience allows them to remain calm during crises/chaos and to move on from the incident without long-term, negative consequences.
Improved resilience leads individuals to more quickly adjust to change and hone their problem-solving skills. Increased resilience gives your child a sense of more control over their environment and, as control goes up, emotional distress and discomfort will decrease. Children with strong resilience can cope more effectively with challenges, stress and new situations.
Summer camp offers many positive benefits and can be an advantageous opportunity for growth. Begin by assessing your child’s readiness for camp. For the younger child who has not spent a lot of time away from home, start with day camps or shorter weekend camps. Investigate whether the camp offers skill development in areas that your child is interested in, as well as new opportunities for exploring other interests. Your child may be more comfortable attending with peers he/she already knows through religious or Scout organizations. They will still have the opportunity to meet and make new friends. Rest assured, your child will have an experience they will remember for the rest of their lives.