May 1, 2014
By Bette Bussel
The transition to college can be difficult, but skills gained at summer camp can help ease anxiety and foster a more positive experience. The American Camp Association, New England has compiled a list of five of the key skill sets overnight camp experiences build that help campers make a smoother transition into college life.
Separation: Knowing how to survive and thrive in a residential community away from home and away from parents and family is extremely important. Overnight camp experiences boost independence simply because children experience life away from their families.
Self-awareness and empowerment: Living away from home in the residential community of summer camp enables children to learn all kinds of key lessons about themselves and the unique role they are capable of playing in a group. For many individuals, camp experiences provide some of life’s most significant and meaningful lessons in understanding who they are and what they can contribute.
Social: Camp experiences build social skills. Living closely with strangers in a small space, such as a camp bunk, provides added incentive to learn the give and take necessary for successful community living. The ability to get along with others and the chance to develop new methods of making friends make the transition to college much easier for experienced campers. What are one or two roommates when you’re used half dozen or more at camp?
Independence: Camp requires children to take care of themselves and their belongings, and, when problems arise, camp living enables children to rely on themselves for solutions or to reach out to others who can assist them. Campers gain responsibility and self-sufficiency.
Community building: Campers know first-hand how to be members of the community, a tremendously important skill in making a successful transition to a new college or university environment. Whether it’s tapping the expertise of others who know the ropes, discovering the most important resources or identifying the people with common interests, community building is key to a rewarding experience at camp and at college.
Bette Bussel is the executive director of the American Camp Association, New England.