ByÂ Jess Michaels
Learn New Activities:Â Whether your child goes to day or sleepaway camp, he or she will participate in a variety of activities including swimming, waterskiing, tennis, boating, ropes course and so much more. Your child will try new activities that he or she may never have had a chance to attempt before.
Gain Life Skills:Â The skills needed to be a successful leader in the 21st century include communication, creativity, leadership, responsibility and collaboration. At camp, children develop these skills needed to become secure, contributing, and successful adults.
Build Self-Esteem:Â Self-esteem-building happens easily at camp. Children acquire new skills at camp, and they watch themselves improve each day throughout the summer. Furthermore, the summer camp community is supportive and encouraging.
Unplug From Technology:Â According to a Kaiser Family Foundation survey of young people, children spend seven-and-a-half hours a day engaged in electronic media, including cell phones, computers, TV, and video games. Instead of engaging in human interactions, children are staring at screens throughout the year. âTodayâs children are growing up in a technological world,â says Ben Esposito, director ofÂ Camp Alvernia, a coed day camp in Suffolk County, Long Island. âNow, more than ever, children need the face-to-face social interactions that camp provides. Camp focuses on participation and relationships, rather than passive entertainment.â The majority of summer camps have a no-technology rule, which will allow your child to take a much-needed break from media and focus on building relationships and participating in activities.
Cultivate Self-Reliance:Â Todayâs children are in constant contact with their parents through texting and cell phone calls. Camp gives children a healthy separation from their parents, fostering independence. Michael Baer, owner and director ofÂ Camp ChipinawÂ and Silver Lake Camp, both coed resident camps in the Catskill Mountains, says: âBecoming more independent is the cornerstone of life at camp. Without mom and dad at their side, campers are forced to take on a more independent role at camp. We are constantly reminding our campers to speak up for themselves and once they are met with a positive response, they quickly take to this newfound power.â
Celebrate Traditions:Â Many camps celebrate special traditions and rituals each summer. Children partake in these rituals, such as color war, candles on the lake, and singing songs. These activities connect children to the generation of campers who came before them and to the history of the camp.
Inspire Reinvention:Â At home, children have gone to school with the same children for years, and children may be labeled as the shy or the athletic child. At camp, your child can reinvent himself. Camp is an accepting community, and a child can be themselves at camp.
Have Fun:Â At camp, children are allowed to play in a safe and nurturing environment and are allowed to just be kids. Play is a powerful form of learning that contributes mightily to a childâs healthy physical, emotional, social, and intellectual development. According to an American Academy of Pediatrics report, creative play protects a childâs emotional development and reduces a childâs risk of stress, anxiety, and depression.
Live Communally:Â Sleepaway camps give children a chance to live communally. âMost of our campers have never had to share a room before,â Baer says. âSuddenly at camp they are in a bunk with up to ten others and learning to navigate and work as a team.â
Meet New People:Â Camp fosters deep friendships and allows children to meet children from different communities, as well as from around the world. Children also have the opportunity to relate to people of all ages at camp.