By Jess Michaels
Summer camp is so much more than playing sports and doing arts & crafts! Yes, your child will participate in a variety of activities, however, the magic of camp is often the things happening while participating in all the camp has to offer.
Reinvent Yourself--If your child is known as the shy, quiet kid at home, camp gives children the chance to reset and be whoever they would like to be. If your child wants to reinvent themselves as the outgoing kid at camp and perform in the talent show or sing their hearts out in the camp play, they can!
Camp is full of new experiences from trying a new sport to zipping down the zipline to living in a bunk with other campers. For many children, these things are outside of their comfort zone but that is often where the growth begins and allows children to reach beyond what they thought they could accomplish.
One of the greatest things about camp is the ability for children to gain independence. Just going to camp and being away from their parents helps children trust their own judgement and allows them to do things on their own. From getting on the camp bus each morning to choosing their own food at mealtime, each day presents opportunities for small steps towards independence.
Most camps don’t allow for smart phones or any personal electronics, so children are putting their screens away and communicating face-to-face around the table during meals, when hanging out in the bunk or when participating in activities. This allows for children to communicate directly with both peers and staff and practice communication skills that often get lost texting or on social media.
When children pass a swim test into the next level, get a bullseye in archery or make a new friend when they went to camp by themselves, they are building confidence and feeling good about themselves. Camp is full of confidence building moments all summer long.
Camp is a supportive environment where children are together in a non-academic environment and where the focus is on fun and connecting with others. Campers bond over shared activities and the camp is intentional about experiences that help build connections.
Children build resiliency at camp, an important skill that all kids need to be able to handle life’s challenges. Whether it’s getting over homesickness or not passing the deep-water test at first, being able to deal with hard things and knowing you are going to be ok is a valuable life skill for all children.
When a child goes to camp, they become part of a community with shared traditions and rituals. They may start their day at the flagpole to raise the flag at overnight camp or at a morning all-camp gathering at day camp. They sing the same songs year after year and have an opening day/closing day campfire to mark the beginning and end of a camp session. These traditions and rituals happen each year, building community and creating a sense of belonging among campers and staff.