6 Ways That Summer Camp Can Be a Life-Changing Experience for Your Child
Guest Post by Beth Rush
The American school system is based on an agricultural calendar. During the summer and early fall, children didn’t go to school because they were needed to help harvest food during the busy growing season. Since most American families today aren’t farmers, many kids enjoy the benefits of summer camp during this annual school break.
If you went to summer camp growing up, you likely learned outdoor skills, made new friends, and spent hours outside in nature. Summer camp is an experience that enriches kids’ education by prompting them to grow emotionally and physically.
Why summer camp can be a life-changing experience for your child
1. Teaches Independence
Independence can be both exuberating and terrifying for children. It’s exciting for them to make their own decisions, but it’s also a lot of responsibility. Summer camp experiences will help your child take ownership of their time and attitude. You won’t be nearby to help them solve problems, so they’ll have to find solutions on their own.
At summer camp, your child will have to initiate making new friends. They’ll have to pack their own bags, clean their own space and manage their own emotions. Summer camps have just enough structure and adult authority to motivate your kids while also giving them opportunities to grow in independence.
2. Strengthens Identity
When kids arrive at camp, they have the opportunity to become someone new. This can be exciting and helps your child develop a stable identity. For example, imagine a child who is teased at school because they made an embarrassing mistake in third grade. One of the benefits of summer camp is that no one knows about that mistake.
Your children will meet many different kids in a camp setting. As their perspective grows, they’ll develop empathy for others and learn to accept themselves. Camp is a great opportunity for building confidence in kids who haven’t yet found their place in friend groups at home. When your child returns from summer camp, they’ll have a slew of memories to strengthen their identity.
3. Promotes Courage
At camp, your child will be encouraged to do hard things that are new to them. This is one of the best ways for kids to build character. Camp is the perfect place to try new things because the stakes are relatively low. If your child tries something and fails, it won’t impact the rest of their year. They can try new things and fail repeatedly without worrying too much about their peers’ opinions.
Almost everyone at camp will have these moments of trying new things. This can help your child observe different responses to failure and encourage them to be brave. As your child starts to succeed, they’ll grow in confidence and courage for their next challenge. Time at camp can help your child overcome shyness and personal insecurities.
4. Increases Activity
Kids today spend a lot of time inside, glued to screens and cellphones. Many camps expressly forbid electronic devices, instead encouraging children to get outside and move around. Your child will benefit both physically and mentally from attending a summer camp where they actively move throughout the day.
Physical movement is essential for human health, but Americans spend most of their day sitting at work or school. Summer camp is a great way to bring balance after a long school year.
Camp activities can increase blood flow, improve brain function and heighten physical coordination. Exercise is also known to benefit mental health and build resilience to stress.
5. Connects to Nature
Studies show that time in nature can reduce stress and strengthen people’s immune systems. It cultivates a sense of wonder, helping people to understand their place in the world and feel a genuine concern for conservation. Unfortunately, kids also don’t get much time outside during the school year.
Many summer camps are outdoor-themed and immerse kids in nature for weeks at a time. Spending hours in their natural environment will help your child to be mentally and physically fit for the coming year. It may also spark your child’s interest in natural phenomena, increasing their focus on science and art projects at school.
6. Builds Resilience
Summer Camp is full of surprises. Your child won’t be able to prepare for everything and that’s yet another benefit of sending them to summer camp. Attending a summer camp will help your child build resilience so that they’re prepared for upcoming life challenges. At summer camp, your child will lose any excuses they have for why they can’t do something.
Resilience is the ability to bounce back – to try again, to refuse to be discouraged. At camp, kids learn this skill naturally as they navigate new friendships, conflict, and challenging activities. Later in life, they’ll encounter similar difficulties – failed projects, financial stress, and relational complications. Learning to be resilient now will equip your child to succeed in the future.
Why Are Summer Camps Important?
Sending your child to summer camp may seem scary or overwhelming. However, your child will benefit from summer camp in so many ways. They’ll develop independence, build a stronger sense of identity, and practice courage. Many summer camps reconnect kids with nature and encourage them to be active.
Time at camp also builds resilience for any struggles your child will face during their life. Summer camp isn’t all fun and games – the activities, relationships, and personal challenges your child experiences there will grow them into a stronger, more well-rounded person. Summer camp is an opportunity for your child to develop life skills they just don’t teach at school.
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