March 6th, 2014
By Bette Bussel
Executive Director, American Camp Association, New England
There’s no doubt that summer camp is fun. Kids get to sing silly songs, play funny games, swim in lakes and tell spooky stories around a campfire; this is the image of camp that has been captured and memorialized in films, books, and television programs. But there’s much more to camp than just a good time. For the last century and a half, experiential education in summer camp settings has played an integral role in children’s overall development—cognitive, physical and social-emotional. Here are ten reasons why your child shouldn’t miss out on the unique growth experience that awaits this summer at day or overnight camp.
Development of critical-thinking and leadership skills. Camp provides the perfect environment for your child to learn and practice individual and group decision-making, how to navigate interactions with others and socialize appropriately and how to resolve conflict and other issues that may arise when working, playing and living together closely.
Increased physical activity. From soccer and tag to canoeing and hiking to walking to the dining hall for meals, an on-going workout is a natural part of the camp day.
Direct experiences in nature. Being outside is proven to reduce stress levels, improve mood, and simultaneously stimulate all of a child’s senses. Day after day in the outdoors teaches children about many of the sciences (Earth, biological and environmental to name just a few.)
Lasting intergenerational and diverse relationships. From peers to counselors, summer camp gives your child an opportunity to meet new people from a variety of age groups, providing them with positive role models and new friends.
Safety away from home. At camp your child is supervised by trained professionals who ensure their safety while inspiring them to have fun and try new things.
Greater self-reliance, self-sufficiency and self-confidence. In addition to learning how to take responsibility for themselves, their space and their belongings, campers often discover strengths that they never knew existed through various activities and experiences. Being at camp is independence boosting.
Reduced summer learning loss. Studies have shown that during summer vacation, students can lose the equivalent of up to three months of what they’ve learned during the school year. Camp programming keeps a child’s brain active, alert, and acquiring knowledge and skills.
Positive risk-taking. Camp provides a safe, wholesome judgment-free environment for your child to step out of his own comfort zone to take physical and emotional risks that he never would have tried during the school year.
A strong sense of community. Group living and team experiences teach children how to work together for a common goal and to find their place and voice within a group. Camp communities create a powerful sense of belonging for their campers.
Memories that will last a lifetime and experiences and skills children can build on for summers to come. When the summer ends, camp memories live on in children’s hearts and minds. They take home skills and experiences that will come in handy back at school. Expect them to be enthusiastic about advancing those skills and acquiring new ones at camp next summer.
For help finding a camp or for additional camp information and resources, visit www.acanewengland.org or call (781) 541-6080.