No matter the time of year, we are never too far from the incoming summer months to get excited about our incredible summer camp programs. Every year, we have the pleasure of hearing feedback from hundreds of parents and campers. While it's always amazing to see just how many students are having a great time with their camp experiences, it's the benefits, the outcomes, and the stories of positive impact that really stand out.
What qualifies us to write about why a summer camp is good for kids?
We serve over 500 students across our network of Otter Learning schools throughout the year and during the summer months. While that is many young minds absorbing the benefits of our educational and enriching experiences, there are also many parents witnessing growth and development in their children.
We hear that friends and family may have concerns with whether they can fit camp into their busy schedules, or, if there are a few weeks where they need care for their children. In addition, many families forget to recognize that camp is an opportunity for growth and learning when making the decision whether their children should attend or not.
That said, we understand. Most parents think sending a child to camp is all about play and there is little benefit. Truth be told, there are many benefits from the summer camp experience.
Why is summer camp important?
Summer camp is important because it offers a structured opportunity for children to grow. Kids go from home to school to extracurriculars, with each environment contributing to their development. Like these activities, summer camp is another unique opportunity for growth, allowing kids to become independent and self-confident, while socializing, making new friends, and even learning new skills.
1. Build Unique Interests
During the school year, it is challenging for schools to expand their offering beyond the traditional STEM focus areas. During the summer, there is a unique opportunity to offer lessons and events that cover topics such as computer science, game design or sports.
If your child has an interest in anything outside of the core school subjects, where do they go to learn or gain experience? Camp is an engaging and distraction-free option, and allows for kids to explore a new interest they may have.
2. Opportunity to Reinvent and Eliminate Categories
"Students often attend school year after year with the same peers, which can lead to labeling and being 'stuck' with a particular perception. A child may become known as studious, quiet, etc., when, really, he can be lively and active in another setting. Children who go away to camp meet many other groups of people in a different environment. Parent Guide News tells us that, “oftentimes, a child will break out of his supposed categorization if given the chance."
This is such a great point and something we have seen children experience at our camps. Summer camp really can change lives. We've all been shaped by our environments in one way or another, but when that shaping causes misconceptions or false accusations to be formed, it's difficult for children to "break out" unless they get out.
Camp allows kids to get out and into an environment filled with others who do not label or judge one another.
3. New Skills
Without the burden of school, but while still being part of an education focused environment, kids and teens are able to really get out of their comfort zone to take some risks and explore new skills, without the looming fear of failure and resulting repercussions.
4. New Friendships
Also, it’s not only a week focused on developing one particular sport, or subject, but it’s jumping into an activity with other kids that share the same passion as your child.
I’ve heard it a million times from campers: “I’m in my element” or, “I’ve found my people!” Students who interact with like-minded peers are able to easily build friendships (potential lifelong friendships) rooted in similar interests.
5. Mental Stimulation & Physical Activity
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, you may feel that your children have not been experiencing enough physical activity because their extra-curriculars might have been cancelled or they are stuck inside completing virtual school work.
Camp can get kids active, both mentally and physically. Have a child who loves video games? Who doesn’t? Camp will allow kids to get off of couches and into courses that teach them how to make games instead of simply playing. Camp will also allow for physical activity no matter their camp of choice.
6. Independence and Empowerment
Even if you think your kids are independent, nothing brings out and tests that independence more than giving them time away from you, on their own.
Without mom or dad around, who is going to make your child’s decisions? Who is going to tell them to brush their teeth? Make the bed? Manage their time? At camp, each child is presented with the opportunity to showcase their independence by making the right decisions.
Camp allows for a chance for children to truly understand the thought that goes into making a good decision, and will discover even more about themselves in the process. Not to mention, children can also lean on peers for support, if they do need additional help. There are a number of other life skills kids and teens can establish at camp, too.
7. Confidence Reinforced by Success
With activity and growth comes success or failure. Whether it is basketball or 3D modeling, each activity comes with its own set of milestones and tests. Some of these activities might be brand new to your child, while others could be extensions of what they already know.
Maybe they’ve never played soccer before, or perhaps they’ve played soccer but have never attempted a certain type of pass. By getting out on the field and learning to play soccer, or even passing the ball around with friends, an increase in confidence will result. From there, your student leaves camp with internal support strong enough to compel them to try out for the school soccer team.
8. Opportunity for Creativity, Free of Judgement
At camp, there isn’t really failure, only the chance to try new things, which in itself is a success. Creativity can’t be suppressed at camp because students don’t have to worry about getting a failing grade. It is only when kids are free of such restrictions that their creativity can flourish.
9. Camp builds all-around resilience
Summer camps are a culmination of many of the above benefits. New friendships, confidence, independence, and a sense of belonging. All of these things contribute to the development of your child as they make strides from being a kid to a strong, considerate, and competent adult.
10. Camp instills appreciation and gratitude
And let’s not forget, time away from home helps kids appreciate their home, their parents, their belongings, a meal cooked by mom or dad, and everything else they don’t have at camp.
Unfortunately, the appreciation doesn’t last long in most kids, and might take more than a week away for them to truly appreciate all that’s given to them on a daily basis. However, appreciation is prioritized at camp.
We recognize that there are many factors that go into the decision to send your child to camp. It is important to realize that the decision shouldn’t hinge solely on whether or not they need to be entertained for a week, month, etc. Summer camp is many things and comes with many benefits.
If you haven't yet sent your child to camp before, and you're wondering what summer camp does for kids, we hope this helps in your future planning and helps you think about camp positively.