By Emily Rasmussen
Whether it’s sailing a boat for the first time or learning a new technical skill, summer camps push the intellectual boundaries of what children are used to on a daily basis. Camps give your child an opportunity to grow in a variety of ways, whether it’s a chance to develop a new skill or to have some adventurous fun.
Here’s five health and psychological benefits of enrolling your child in a camp.
- Sense of independence
If your child has attended camps before, you may have noticed changes in their self-confidence. Camps can help children grow by allowing them the opportunity to try experiences on their own, growing their sense of independence and overall maturity.
“It is in the crucible of this community that children gain self-esteem with humility, overcome their inflated sense of self, and develop a lifelong sense of grace and wonder,” Bob Ditter, licensed clinical social worker specializing in child and adolescent treatment, said to the American Camp Association (ACA) in their article “Benefits of Camp: Psychological Aspects.”
- Making friends
This may seem like an obvious reason, but it’s arguably one of the most important. Building relationships with peers from a variety of backgrounds can help grow your child’s community of friends and mentors.
“Each summer at camp, a unique setting is created, a community is constructed that allows participants to get in touch with a sense of life that is larger than one’s self,” Bruce Muchnick, licensed psychologist who works extensively with day and resident camps, said to the ACA. “The camp community seeks to satisfy children’s basic need for connectedness, affiliation, belonging, safety, and feelings of acceptance and appreciation.”
- Change of scenery
Even with school field trips or family vacations, a child’s sense of the world might be limited to their neighborhood or city. Breaking out of the norm can enlighten your child’s grasp on what else is out there.
“It gets them away from a neighborhood or situation that may exist in their neighborhoods that isn’t healthy,” former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell and former chair of America’s Promise – The Alliance for Youth, said to the ACA. “It teaches them how to get along with others—both young people as well as adults. To give our children a safe place to learn and grow–camp does that.”
- Taking risks
This may be your child’s first time trying something exciting outside of school or home. Regardless of its size, taking risks is an important lesson for children to learn.
“What makes camp a special community is its focus on celebrating effort. In this less pressured atmosphere, children learn more readily what positive things to say and do when they make mistakes and face challenges,” Michael Brandwein, noted speaker and consultant to the camp profession, said to the ACA.
- Different perspectives
Camps can serve as a catalyst for understanding people’s differences. Often, children will be obliged to hear other ideas—whether they agree with them or not—which is a healthy start for having an open mind to other people’s thoughts and feelings.
“Campers are urged to include, not exclude, others,” Brandwein said to the ACA. “They are praised for choosing new partners and not always the same ones. They are encouraged to respect the differences between people.”
Read more of our 2018 Summer Camp and Activities Guide HERE: