When school is out—whether it’s for winter or summer vacation—parents are left with a big decision as to what to do with their children. Should they hire a babysitter, put them in daycare or send them to the grandparents? All are valid options. However, if camps are on the table and readily available, why not enrich your children’s lives and send them to a camp where they can engage their mind and body all while making new friends and learning new life skills?
Local YMCAs and other organizations offer all kinds of camps for children of all ages, and if money is an issue, some even offer to help with covering the costs for qualifying families. The benefits of camp for kids are endless, and the skills they learn while attending will last them a lifetime.
In an open letter about why kids need camp now more than ever, Peg L. Smith, former chief executive officer of the American Camp Association, writes that camp “teaches kids how to be active participants, ask questions, ask for help and try new things.”
Children go through profound change and development during this time in their lives. It is through participation in a wide variety of group activities that children develop the skills they will carry into adulthood and will utilize in their private and professional lives. Children learn leadership and responsibility through witnessing compassionate leadership demonstrated by directors and counselors while attending camp, as well as participating in group activities. They are in a non-judgmental environment where they get a chance to truly lead without fear of recourse and are given ample opportunity to test out their developing leadership skills.
Through the structured environment of camp, children can feel safe and secure while learning responsibility and even self-control—skills needed to transition to adulthood. Kids need structure; they thrive on it. And when structure is in place to make a child feel safe, they are able to express themselves and discover who they are and the world around them.
Critical Thinking and Problem-Solving Confidence Through Teamwork
Children will likely be engaged in a variety of activities that will put them out of their comfort zone and partner them with their peers. These activities will require them to work together to solve problems or win competitions. Although there will be plenty of activities that teach independence, teamwork is where children blossom and learn to navigate situations that require the help of others to find a solution. At camp, children are in a non-judgmental environment and are encouraged to be themselves. As a result, they will eagerly add their input within their group while also valuing the input of their peers. Through this engagement, children will learn that it is important to participate and become inspired to become involved in their community.
Growth of Self-Confidence
According to a survey by the ACA Youth Outcomes Battery, 96% of campers make new friends at camp and 70% gain self-confidence during a camp experience. Ninety-two percent of campers surveyed also said, “The people at camp helped me feel good about myself.”
Through meaningful experiences that engage in a participatory environment, children have the opportunity to achieve and thus build their self-confidence as a result. How a child sees themselves is incredibly important because it affects the decisions they make. Self-confidence is learned through interactions with peers and teachers and flourishes in a positive environment where they are encouraged to participate. Camps are the perfect setting for children to develop and grow their self-esteem as activities are set up to assist participants in the freedom to express themselves and the ability to solve the problem at hand successfully.
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