During summer, kids are free from the pressure of school. Parents see joining summer camps as an opportunity for their kids to improve their talents and acquire new skills. The camp is viewed by children as a place where they can play and have fun. Both are correct.
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While in school, children are judged based on their grades or scores; in the camp, they don’t have to worry about being judged. They are free to express themselves. By joining summer camps, children will learn practical life lessons far beyond what they can learn from inside the classroom. In fact, parents and teachers alike notice how much the children who attended camp grow over the summer.
Free from technology distraction, children have time to relax, talk, listen, and reflect. By joining summer camps, they will learn to appreciate nature, work with others, make decisions for themselves, be independent, take responsibility for their every action, develop creativity, and gain confidence. Additionally, joining summer camps helps children develop the much-needed skills that would be beneficial to them when they become adult. According to studies, joining summer camps nurtures emotional intelligence (EQ), healthy living, leadership, and other equally important skills.
The Canadian Summer Camp Research Project studied the effects of joining summer camps on children. The results showed that a camp can provide safe environment for children who grew up in an overprotective environment so they can learn, grow, and develop their potentials.
Primary Benefits of Joining Summer Camps
1. Build friendships and develop social skills
“Camp provides children with a ‘blank slate,’ allowing them to try on different behaviors and identities. And the relatively short duration of a camp session decreases the cost of making mistakes.”
At first, it may be frightening for some to meet new people, especially the socially inept children for they fear rejection or humiliation from peers. But these summer camp worries are not worrisome at all as children are encouraged to interact with each other. The camp encourages activities that foster teamwork, cooperation, and negotiation.
Joining summer camps helps kids develop their social skills, boost their self-confidence, and test their independence. Talk to any former campers, and they will tell you how they found their lifelong best friends and will even give you summer camp tips on how to make friends.
One of the most important findings of Canadian Summer Camp Research Project was in the scope of emotional intelligence or emotional quotient. EQ is the ability of a person to identify, understand, and control his or her emotion. A child with higher EQ is able to empathize and relate with others. This is the characteristic that helps children get along and play with other kids.
This is one of the benefits of summer camp—children learning how to interact with their peers. For a child, EQ is just as important as IQ.
2. Develop resiliency and self-confidence
“Camp does a really good job of teaching kids it’s okay to fail and helps them recognize their limitations, and see these are things that are not fixed and can be improved upon.”
Children who have been in “secure” environment learn to get out of their comfort zone at camp. Overprotective parents only want their children to be safe and sheltered, but they should be aware that camp is a safe place for their kids for exploring and learning through activities such as wilderness camping, high ropes courses, musical performances, and many others.
At the camp, children are taught to accept their limitations, that it’s all right to fail. Based on the research, the camp is good at making children see what their weaknesses are and that they can fix it. By letting children take risks when facing challenges, the camp is encouraging them to become self-reliant and resilient and helps them build their self-esteem in a secure and supportive environment.
These are all vital life skills that may help children at school and at home. According to Mike Pearse, director of Camp Tawingo in Ontario, Canada, there are four hard skills in the camp experience: perseverance, creativity, responsibility, and bravery.
Joining summer camps helps children boost their self-confidence, and this could translate into overall improved performance in school.
3. Physically active
“Along with banning the use of electronics, many camps provide a daily routine that involves waking up early, getting lots of physical activity, eating regular meals, and spending extended periods of time outdoors.”
Many children nowadays find it hard to live without the gadgets for their entertainment. Many parents leave their homes in the morning with their children sitting in front of the computer or busy with their smartphones scrolling through their Facebook newsfeed or playing, and they often find them in the same position doing exactly the same thing when they get home in the evening. So it didn’t come as a surprise when a study in Canada revealed that 93 percent of youth aged 6 to 19 did not meet the suggested one hour of workout every day.
In the end, campers will eventually realize that they love being physically active because it makes them feel good. And before they know it, they are living a healthy life.
Because in joining summer camps, children are always on the move, they are always walking, playing team sports with other kids. Some camps have activities like mountain climbing, boating, forest games, water-skiing, and the like. Children see this as playing, but actually, they are also exercising, which is good because if you ask them to exercise at home, they probably won’t bother.
Living in the camp is different from living in the city. In there, children have no access to the Internet and cannot use mobile phones so they are forced to mingle with the other kids.
Social media and computer games are tough competitors of physical activity, but once the kids realize how fun and easy it is to participate in these activities, it would encourage them to go outside rather than lying on the couch all day.
4. Appreciating the nature
Many kids today lack appreciation for mother nature, that’s because they are not exposed to the natural world.
By joining summer camps, children are given the chance to see what they are missing, the beauty of nature and its healing power—exactly what they need for their health, development of their senses, and creativity. This is a good reason to let the kids disconnect from technology even just for a day.
5. Develop leadership skills
“You’re often having to rely on your teammates or cabin mates to complete an activity. That builds in-group bonding, and in that process, what you hope the young person’s learning is either to have some voice within that group . . . or how to be persuasive.”
Summer camp is known for building leadership skills in youth.
Being a leader doesn’t mean you’re the most active or you have the loudest voice in the group. Leaders have distinct qualities that make them capable of taking the reins. They are confident, compassionate, creative, are good at decision-making, and many more. These qualities are not learned overnight, it takes training to develop into a good leader.
Based on Canadian Summer Camp Research Project, majority of camp goers exhibit an increase in confidence and emotional intelligence—the two are qualities of good leaders. In joining summer camps, the kids are given a chance to head a group without the fear of being criticized. If they make a mistake, they won’t be punished. This will allow them to try their techniques and learn to be a leader.
According to camp experts, kids attend camps to have fun and not to become better leader, and it has positive outcomes.
When campers reach their teenage years, they have more chance to acquire comprehensive leadership skills. Many camps provide LIT (leader-in-training) or CIT (counselor-in-training) programs that will help young men and women improve their leadership skills by completing complex tasks like organizing activities and programs, supervising younger campers, and learning how to communicate effectively.
By joining summer camps, children of any age learn how to do their task without being told, be it tidying their cabins, assisting younger campers find their way back to their cabins, or sharing their talents through various programs. Summer camps are good training ground for the kids to become good citizens. They will learn that each of us has a role to play for the betterment of our community, and if we want something done, we don’t have to wait for others to do it.
6. Continued learning in the summer
Learning is not boring nor limited to classroom only. Learning while having fun is possible—by joing summer camps. In there, it’s not just cognitive learning that is being enhanced but emotional learning too. If a child connects to something on an emotional level—that is, he enjoys doing a particular lesson—he is likely to learn more.
The camp is the perfect place for them to learn needed life skills such as cooperation, problem solving, and many more, then use the knowledge they obtained throughout the school year in various fun activities. Some camps offer geocaching lessons as it helps improve the kids’ scientific and math skills.
Geocaching is an outdoor treasure hunting where players use personal GPS tracker for outdoor use like Trackimo in finding the prize. The device will guide the players to the place where the treasure is hidden.
In this particular game, kids get a response on their every move, whether they are sailing to the right direction, they will receive a feedback. If their boat overturns, no need to worry because it’s part of the experience. It’s a very enjoyable adventure that children are not even aware they are learning something as they complete the task.
7. Make time for “active play”
Kids, as much as possible, should be given more time to have fun. They need and love it, but don’t get enough. Children today are spending more time watching TV, using cell phones, or playing computer games but rarely have active playtime.
At camp, the environment is different—whether it’s a day camp or overnight camp, children are given playtime. Being active allows children to explore and develop their creativity without adult intervention. Playtime not only gives children a chance to have fun, it also enriches their imagination. In unstructured play, they learn to set their own rules and their own limits in an environment that is not necessarily competitive. They learn to exchange roles. Interaction with one another is highly encouraged.