Summer Camp Benefits - The Very Best of Childhood
We all want the very best for our children. Summer camp benefits kids in profound ways that impact their bodies, minds, hearts, and souls. As a father, I know firsthand how much love, energy, care, and effort goes into the process of crafting a good life for my children. Who will they grow up to be? What impact will my choices and today's events have on their lives in the future? How can I best meet their needs so that they are prepared to handle the challenges that await them? These are the kind of questions we wrestle with as parents.
Summer Camp benefits are both deep and broad
The experience of summer camp is one of the greatest gifts we can give our children. I know this not only as a father, but as a summer camp director for the past decade. I've seen thousands of kids come to our summer camps, and through the years I've come to see the patterns of benefits that kids receive from their time at summer camp.
Here is a list of some of the most important benefits that are relevant to today's children:
Self Confidence & Self Esteem
Summer camps give kids a sense of belonging as they take part in a process of community building. Through cooperation and inclusivity, they develop a sense of life larger than one's self. Summer camp offers a safe space for learning, authentic contribution, and diverse opportunities to experience success. Kids get a chance to stretch their comfort zones, particularly through mentoring relationships, and come to experience themselves as more capable than they previously believed.
Unplug from Technology
In today's world, the average child spends seven hours in from of screens each day. Seven hours!! Getting away from technology gives kids the chance to develop creativity as they engage with real people, real activities, and real emotions.
Make New Friends
Developing community and social skills is essential for a healthy life. At summer camps, kids form a close knit community. For many children, camp is a chance to reinvent themselves, away from the expectations of school. I can't tell you how many strong friendships I've seen develop at summer camps, and how many times I've heard kids say "I've found my people!" Relaxation, adventure, and big fun become a context for deep relationships to blossom.
Unstructured Free Time
Again, the research and science is clear that children need unstructured free time as part of healthy, holistic development. Summer camps are a perfect opportunity for kids to experience this while staying safe. Away from the overly structured routines of home, school, sports, & extra-curricular activities, kids relax, de-stress, and flourish.
A big part of the process of preparing for a successful adulthood is building a diverse skill set. Summer camp benefits children by giving them a chance to try out new and diverse skills, as well as deepen in existing passions. As they do so, kids discover themselves and develop their gifts.
Being Physically Active
Kids need to be physically active in order to stay healthy. Summer camps have virtually unlimited opportunities for them to do so!
Grow more Independent
Summer camp benefits kids by giving them authentic and safe opportunities to practice making choices for themselves away from parents and teachers guiding every move. By experiencing that taste of freedom, kids develop the building blocks of authentic responsibility.
Unfortunately, a growing trend in our world today is humanity's increasing disconnection to nature. The natural world is the original context for authentic self-discovery and community building. Summer is an amazing season to reconnect with the gifts of nature and in the process kids experience the awe and wonder that become inspiration for life itself. This is one of the simplest yet most profound summer camp benefits.
Getting away from everyday life gives children a chance to step back and gain objectivity on their own lives. As they meet new people and have new experiences, kids begin to see their own lives in a new light. They are able to appreciate the simple things that are so easy to take for granted, and share that thankfulness with their friends and family. In this way, summer camp benefits the entire family and community.
Perhaps one of the most important summer camp benefits of all, kids develop resiliency. They have many opportunities to endure setbacks, practice tenacity, and develop determination. As they do so, they build the muscle of resiliency that will surely be used well into the future.
It might be easy to convince ourselves as parents that we can give our kids the same experience as summer camp by just inviting some other friends over to play, or that they get everything they need through schooling. My hope in sharing these summer camp benefits with you is that you connect with the unique and tremendous value that summer camps have to offer your children, and give them that special gift that will last a lifetime.
Twin Eagles Wilderness Schools offers a wide variety of day and overnight summer camps throughout the Inland Northwest with a focus on deep nature connection, mentoring relationships, and self discovery. Learn more here.
Interested in being personally trained in Nature Based Mentoring, on a transformational journey of connection to nature, community, and self?
Check out the Twin Eagles Wilderness Immersion Program.
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