By Jess Michaels, American Camp Association, NY and NJ
Summer camp provides children with an amazing summer experience, making it difficult to narrow down the reasons why camp is just so great. Here is a list of ten awesome things about summer camp. I’m sure after one summer at camp, your child will be able to come up with dozens of more ways that the camp experience is just so great!
- Gain skills in a range of activities – Whether your child goes to day or sleepaway camp, your child will participate in a variety of activities including swimming, waterskiing, tennis, boating, ropes course and so much more. Your child will try new activities that he or she may never have had a chance to try.
- Gain life skills needed to be a successful adult - The skills needed to be a successful leader in the 21st century include communication, creativity, leadership, responsibility and collaboration—skills incorporated into many summer camp programs. At camp, children develop these skills needed to become secure, contributing, successful adults.
- Children build self-esteem – This happens easily at camp. Children acquire new skills at camp and they watch themselves improve each day throughout the summer. It also happens by being part of a summer camp community which is supportive and encouraging.
- Unplug from technology – According to a Kaiser Family Foundation survey of young people, children spend 7.5 hours a day engaged in electronic media including cell phones, computers, TV and video games. Instead of engaging in human interactions, children are staring at screens throughout the year. The majority of summer camps have a no technology rule which will allow your child to take a much needed break from media and focus on building relationships and participating in activities.
- Self-reliance- Today’s children are in constant contact with their parents through texting and cell phone calls. Camp gives children a healthy separation from their parents, fostering independence.
- Traditions – Many camps celebrate special traditions and rituals each summer. Children partake in these rituals such as color war, candles on the lake and singing songs and these activities connect children to the generation of campers who came before them and to the history of the camp.
- Camp is fun – At camp, children are allowed to play in a safe and nurturing environment, and are allowed to just be kids. Play is a powerful form of learning that contributes mightily to the child's healthy physical, emotional, social, and intellectual development. According to an American Academy of Pediatrics report, creative free play protects a child's emotional development and reduces a child's risk of stress, anxiety, and depression.
- Meet new people – Camp fosters deep friendships and allows children to meet children from different communities as well as from around the world. Children also have the opportunity to relate to people of all ages at camp.