May 23, 2018

Summer camps encourage learning through play

By Bette Bussel

Special to the Observer

American children seem to be in constant motion—their schedules packed with homework, chores, music lessons, and organized sports. Fewer and fewer children have enough time for good, old-fashioned play.

In a world where kids do not always get to be kids, summer camp experiences meet children’s developmental needs by offering:

Unstructured play time

Experiential education

Healthy, safe risk-taking

An “unplugged” environment

A community that includes creative, caring adult role models

According to Dr. David Elkind, Tufts University child development expert, “The traditional summer camp recognizes that play is a powerful form of learning that contributes mightily to the child’s healthy physical, emotional, social, and intellectual development.”Summer camps offer day and overnight experiences for children that maximize opportunities to play in too many ways to count. From free play to performing plays, from intense athletic contests to non-competitive games, opportunities for learning through play are paramount at camp!

Bette Bussel is the executive director of the American Camp Association, New England. Visit

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