Why Summer Camp Is So Important
For some parents – you cannot imagine sending their kids to overnight summer camp. It’s just too hard. They are miles away from you for several days, with no way of contacting them, being supervised by people you don’t know, and hanging out with kids you’ve never met. Nope, not happening. It’s okay if you feel that way! It’s a big step!
As an adult who did go to sleepaway camp every summer growing up, I know the effect it had on me and how important it was to me that my kids went too. My son and his cousins attend the same camp my older brother and I attended, which is the same camp our dad attended as well. The bond my brother and I share about camp is the best part of our relationship and we look back on our time at camp with very fond memories.
Here are a few things to think about if you are on the fence about sending your kiddo(s) to summer camp.
Away from Technology
Technology now is very different than it was back in the 90s and 2000s. At camp, there is no technology. No cell phones, no TV, no iPads, no gaming, none of it! Camps are often very strict about this, for good reason! Kids are then pushed to participate in the activities provided and increase their ability to interact on a personal level. It puts them back in nature. It also teaches us to be aware of the natural world and of natural development. The good this does is unparalleled.
Build Social Skills
At camp, kids are grouped in living units with others of the same age and gender. They learn to live and work together and get along. They are asked to complete (simple) chores and keep the cabin in good order. Learn that everything is not always about just them all the time and that they are not always going to get their way or that throwing a tantrum is not successful. They interact with a wide age range of kids. Some camps bring in counselors from other countries which can open up all kinds of questions and conversations for your child. This is also a great opportunity for your kids to meet friends from different schools and family dynamics-which feeds into my next point.
Make New Friends
By the time your kiddo comes back from camp, they have lived with these other kids for several days, creating a bond and sharing memories. Back in the days of AIM, I used to have a friends list of people I had met at camp. I’m not kidding! We would trade screen names before we left camp and chat over the year. Sometimes even meeting up the next summer! I still follow friends from camp on social media! Being able to share similar fond memories of camp with others is a bond that is simply unexplainable. I also met a long time love many, many summers ago at camp and that is one of my best memories.
Try New Things
I bet if you knew some of the things your kids did at camp – you would be stunned! Your quiet, shy bookworm was the loudest singer around the campfire. The finicky eater ate things you could not beg them to try at home! Your little athlete was found every day at Arts and Crafts. The timid one is now a wild water-bug. Camp provides a no-pressure opportunity for kids to try all kinds of new things. If they don’t enjoy what they tried, they move on to the next thing! No big deal!
Teaching our kids personal responsibility can be one of the hardest parts of parenting. At camp, counselors do provide reminders, but it’s on your kiddo to put on bug spray and sunscreen, grab their hat, hang up their wet swimsuit, keep track of their belongings, and more. Some kids (like mine) may enjoy not having a parent remind them to brush their teeth and shower, but they quickly learn what happens when they don’t. Camp is a time for them to learn that someday, Mom and Dad will not be there to pick up after them or hold their hand.
Camp is just a way for your kiddo to just BE A KID. It allows them to slow down and enjoy summer. It gets them away from the hustle and bustle of day to day life and provides a break in the normal routine. The good that camp does for your child is something I will talk about forever.
If you do choose to take the leap and send your kiddo to summer camp, I hope they have the best time! I hope they will come home with an abundance of new friends and memories that will stay with them forever.
“May all of your dreams bloom like daisies in the sun. May you always have stars in your eyes, and may you not stop running, not until your race is won. And may you always have blue skies”
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