While summer camp may seem like just a fun way to keep kids busy on the break from school, summer camps offer so much more. This answer to prayer for most working parents can help build life skills that serve students throughout their pre-teen and teenage years, and even into adulthood.
Learning-based summer camps provide a balance between routine and opportunity through a mix of structured and unstructured time, helping students develop essential life skills using methods not typical of classroom environments.
Here are just a few ways summer camp can help students grow socially, emotionally, intellectually, morally, and physically.
- Build new relationships. At camp students are challenged with making social adjustments to new and diverse types of people, gaining new relational skills and increasing their self-esteem through the process. Children also learn how to come together to work for something bigger than themselves – the team. They learn that relationships benefit from investment, and teams benefit from strong individual relationships.
- Develop confidence and self-esteem. The camp environment teaches resilience as children learn to get back up and try again after failures, leading to increased confidence and building self-esteem. Challenges teach them how to take calculated risks and learn from their mistakes along the way to achieve a desired outcome. Michael Popkin, family therapist and founder of Active Parenting says, “The building blocks of self-esteem are belonging, learning, and contributing. Camps offer unique opportunities for children to succeed in these three vital areas and even beyond home and school.”
- Learn how to make decisions. Camp experiences grow confidence and develop good decision-making skills. As challenges are presented and risks are taken, ownership emerges, and responsibility and accountability are formed. This promotes self-determination and teaches children how to set goals and make appropriate decisions to ultimately achieve their goals.
- Discover talents, interests, and values. Peter Scales, noted author and educator says, “The biggest plus of camp is that they help young people discover and explore their talents, interests, and values. Most schools don’t satisfy all these needs.” Students who have had camp experiences end up healthier mentally, emotionally, socially, and even physically because they get to know themselves and how they fit into the world.
While today’s world makes it very easy to seek out only what is enjoyable and avoid what is unpleasant, camp nudges children to move out of their comfort zone to overcome challenges while building essential life skills. And when students learn to push themselves to grow, they develop understanding around what it takes to be a productive, independent contributor to society.