In some people’s minds, summer camp reminds them of an awkward time in their lives, or alternatively if they have never been they are reluctant to go because of the way it is portrayed in movies (bugs, animals, weird goings on, pranks). But really, though that may be the stereotype, and some of it still goes on for sure, there is a lot to like about going to summer camp, both as a parent and as the kids.
Why Summer Camp?
In this day and age, most people may think that the old tradition of sending your kids off for a couple of weeks to go to the middle of the forest somewhere with a bunch of other kids is downright NUTS. But hear us out, there is some logic to the madness.
For parents the benefit is obvious: you too get to have your adult time for a couple of weeks. But for the kids, the benefits can be lifelong. Apart from the friendships that the kids will cultivate in this close quarters setting, they will also be taught what is considered rudimentary skills like making a fire, or sewing through arts and crafts. Though parents will be able to easily do this at home with their children, being put in another setting where the children are “by themselves” will give them a sense of freedom.
What are the other benefits that a child sent to summer camp may learn? Here are some we thought about.
As aforementioned, there is the benefit of the child being able to find themselves for that summer. They will be able to explore who they are, and will be able to see how they adapt to certain situations. This is a fantastic way to help their development of self esteem, confidence and social relations with others. Usually, kids that get sent to camp are of the tween ages, where they are ok to stay by themselves and can basically clean after themselves, but they are also in that time of their life that they are starting to mold themselves into the people they will become. Any helpful push in the direction of good values and practices will always show positive results.
Not to judge the way people live their lives, but in most camps, the food and exercises are usually geared towards a healthy living attitude. The kids are usually encouraged to play or do activities outside, there are some camps that teach them how to garden, and because of this, most kids are off their phone or tablets so screen time is down too. Why is this great? “According to the Centers for Disease Control, obesity in children has doubled, and in teens has quadrupled, in the last 30 years. Thanks to the many activities camp offers, kids stay busy and physically active.”  Let’s take the gardening for example. Some camps show the kids where their food comes from that is why it’s easier to get them to eat vegetables and fruits than at home.
Structure and Routine
Again, no judgement here about the way people live their lives, but because it is summer, we parents tend to get a little lenient with the kids, which is fine and dandy; it’s SUMMER after all! Sending them for a couple of weeks to a summer camp though, their lives will have a little more structure and routine. This is because there are so many kids all in one place at one time! “Summer camp provides structure and routine for kids when they’re not in school. It keeps them regulated and makes transitioning back into school easier when summer break ends.”  Though chock full of wonderful activities, all these activities need a schedule for people to follow so everyone gets a turn. So let’s say, the kayaking boats can only be used for an hour, and are all returned properly for the next group to use. There is a sense of community and that you are not the only one in this camp. Everyone there has to take into account everyone else, because, for lack of a better reason, you are all stuck together for these few days! May as well be nice, right?
It is believed that when these are encouraged in a child, they will be able to display their potential for leading or becoming a leader. “A leader isn’t always the loudest person in a group, or the most active. Many leaders share a range of skills and qualities that help him or her take charge: confidence, creativity in their decision-making and an understanding of teamwork, to name a few. It takes practice to become a good leader, too.  It is having these assets to use as a foundation wherein children will find they can become notable decision makers in their communities and schools, and be confident in the role. This then adds to their building of self esteem and confidence and thus, be able to be a proactive member of the community, whether within the family or even in school.
Of course with every child it is different, and this may not be their cup of tea. They may not be comfortable in a setting such as this, but there are those that may seem reluctant at first but thrive in this environment. The YMCA does say, “ Although each child is a unique individual, we believe summer camp is beneficial for all kids. No matter what your child’s interests are, camp helps children develop important social, emotional and cognitive skills. Best of all, children create memories that last a lifetime at camp.”  As we have outlined here, there are definite developmental benefits of sending your kids off to a camp at least once in their childhood. Hopefully this article could help you think it through with your family if this is the way for you. We hope this helped!
- Hines, Christa Melnyk. “8 Benefits of Summer Camp: Eight Great ways your child can grow from the experience”. February 28, 2017, https://indyschild.com/the-benefits-of-summer-camp/
- Freedman, Nicole, MSN, RN, CPNP. “Why Summer Camp is Healthy for Your Child”. Children’s Hospital Los Angeles . https://www.chla.org/blog/rn-remedies/why-summer-camp-healthy-your-child
- Our Kids: A Trusted Source. “The 7 benefits of Summer Camp”. Our Kids: A Trusted Source. https://www.ourkids.net/camp/benefits-of-summer-camp.php
- The YMCA. “15 Benefits of Summer Camp for your Kids.” Friday, June, 14, 2019. https://gwrymca.org/blog/15-benefits-summer-camp-your-kids#close