If you ask someone where they first learned how to read a map, swim in a real lake or worked alongside a team to solve problems, chances are high that “summer camp” would be a common answer.
Summer camps provide kids and teens with an outlet to pursue a variety of skill sets both physically and mentally. In addition to activities like hiking and fishing, the summer camp experience can also help bolster other skills in realms like communication, team building, resiliency and even self-confidence that will carry long into adulthood.
Whether it’s spending a few hours at day camp or a few days apart during a sleep away experience, this independent time can help campers of all ages build social skills and develop their identity in the presence of peers their own age. Kids learn to become more self-reliant while learning new skills and teaching peers rather than relying solely on adult figures or guardians for guidance.
Developing healthy habits
Summer camp is a place where physical activity is not only normalized, but also encouraged. While some summer camps are specifically dedicated to sports and physical activities like dance, even creative or educational camps often get campers up and moving from station to station, helping with chores or helping maintain the camp site.
Campers may have to learn how to wash or repair their own clothes after a hike, or take turns helping prepare camp meals with their peers. For some kids, it may be their first experience doing chores or working as a team toward accomplishing a goal. Some camps even provide lessons in gardening and animal care for campers of all ages, which will carry into adulthood. Many camps are located in fairly remote areas, and instead of running to the store for simple and quick solutions, campers have to engage in critical thinking and prioritizing, which can help at home when deciding how to handle chores and homework.
Resiliency in the face of conflict is an essential life skill. Summer camp provides the opportunity for children to face many challenges and practice overcoming them while leading a group and or helping their peers. Campers might not be able to reach the top of a camp’s rock-climbing wall or reel in a fish on the first try, but they learn from their summer camp support system of peers and counselors to keep trying.
Reduce screen time, increase green time
Most summer camps don’t permit usage of cell phones or electronic devices, even in destinations where a wireless signal is available. Instead, campers learn to navigate forests with peers using only a compass, make handmade crafts, play sports, ride horses or dance without electronic distractions. Upon coming home from camp, kids and teens are fully equipped with new skill sets and perhaps have even found some new hobbies to be passionate about.