3 Valuable Benefits of Summer Camp That Help Kids Thrive3 min read
Over 14 million children are expected to attend camp in the United States this year, according to trends reported by the American Camp Association. If you’re thinking about sending your child to summer camp this year, now is a good time to begin planning. Popular camps fill up fast and close enrollment before summer begins.
I didn’t attend summer camp as a child, but worked for seven summers on the staff at Big Lake Youth Camp near Sisters, Oregon. As a camp counselor, I saw first-hand the positive impact a summer camp experience can make on a child’s life. Over twenty-five years have passed since then, and I still cross paths with kids I met at camp. They often tell me their camp experience was a highlight of their youth.
My daughter was 12 years old the first time she attended summer camp. Her best experience was at Young Disciple Camp, a bible camp near Inchelium, Washington. There she made a commitment to be a Christian, began lasting friendships, and developed a passion for helping people in need. She loved her first summer at that camp so much, she raised enough money to stay an extra week the following summer. When she was old enough, she volunteered as a camp counselor. My son is in line for his first summer camp experience, and his application is in the mail.
The variety of programs offered at camps are designed to meet the diverse needs and interests of children. While many camps focus on sports and outdoor activities, there are also programs for kids who enjoy creative activities like music, robotics, and film production.
Many camps cater to children with special needs, offering programs to give these kids positive memories that last a lifetime. Of the 14,000 day and overnight camps that exist, 44 percent offer specialized camps for individuals with disabilities.
Of all camps, overnight camps represent more than half, and about one-third are day camps. Eighty-five percent are co-ed, while others offer female-only and male-only programs.
A week at camp may cost as little as 100 dollars or as much as 1,500 dollars. Most camps accredited by the American Camp Association offer financial assistance. The organization offers an online search where you can name your price to find a camp that fits your budget. But, whatever the cost, consider it an investment in your child’s development.
The American Camp Association identifies the following benefits of summer camp for kids:
1) Social Skills Development
Many children are more likely to talk by texting than by using their mouth. Face-to-face contact is secondary to sending selfies. Camps provide opportunities for kids to leave their devices behind and engage in fun and meaningful social exchanges around shared interests. As they interact with other kids and adults, they learn leadership skills, how to communicate effectively, and how to cooperate with others to achieve goals.
2) Self-Respect and Character Building
At camp, kids are often responsible for their own well-being much more than they are at home. While camp counselors supervise their activities, kids at camp are challenged to own their choices and to be responsible for their actions. Camp stretches kids beyond their comfort zone, enabling them to discover and build confidence in their strengths and capabilities.
3) Community Living and Service Skills
Kids quickly discover that having a good time at camp depends on working with a unit of other kids and respecting the guidance of adults. Many camps put and emphasis on caring for others, fairness and trust as ingredients for building strong relationships and achieving success.