When children go to camp, they are on their own, sometimes for the very first time in their lives. They have to decide what to wear, what to eat, which activities to participate in. Of course counsellors are deciding this with them, but in essence the campers soon learn that they can make decisions on their own and as a result they develop self confidence and become self-reliant.
As self-esteem develops from learning to be on their own, children continue to try new activities and also engage in one’s that they are familiar. In school, children do not experience success in the same way and can often think of themselves in a lessor light. Camp can be a school without failure because just having fun makes you a success.
Often parents call to say that they can not believe how their child’s grades improved as a result of camp. Or how they now clear the table or help out more around the house. A well directed camp will focus on trying to make every camper experience a success and it is that feeling of success that translated into self-esteem.
Of course one of the greatest benefits of a camp experience is that children develop social skills. In a camp setting, a good counselor will make sure that every camper is included in the activity and that each child interacts with the others in a positive way. They learn the give and take of group living, they learn how to work and even depend on others and more importantly that others will depend on them. Something as simple as clean-up, is not only there to get the cabin clean, but to foster a team atmosphere of working together which in turn results in friendships.
The obvious benefit of camp is that Campers make long lasting friendships. These friendships can often be more unique and extra special because campers are living with each other and see the true personalities. Because campers and staff come from all over the world, or even from a different school, children learn to see others from a different perspective. Children tend to be accepted for who they are and do not have to be as concerned with what they wear or what they are good at, or how they look. This is because in a camp setting, respect and caring ultimately win out over materialistic or short-sited objectives.
And of course, learning skills at each activity is a great benefit for campers. By being exposed to so many arts, sports and outdoor recreation programs campers have fun and develop self-esteem. They also learn skills that they can then pursue and enjoy for the rest of their lives. Because they have 30 different activities to chose from, each and every camper can feel special enjoying a craft, sport or outdoor activity. So as we tell our staff, yes camp does give children fun, friends and fulfillment
Summer camp can be such fun for children of all ages. Younger children normally start out going to day camps which are limited to a couple of hours away from home. As they get older, however, they may decide they want to go to an overnight camp. Is your child ready for overnight camp? How can you tell?
Children who have spent the night with friends are generally good candidates for overnight camp. They’ve already been able to spend time away from their parents and will be less likely to call home the day after camp begins to ask Mom or Dad to come pick them up. Of course, each child is an individual so you’ll want to take your child’s personality into consideration as well.
How long has your child spent the night away from home? Children who have spent two to three days with friends or family shouldn’t have any problems being gone that long for camp. And, since camp sessions range in length from one to eight weeks these days, you can choose a shorter camp session for a child who is new to overnight camping.
Christopher Thurber, clinical psychologist and author of The Summer Camp Handbook states, “Kids themselves are the best judge of when they are ready.” He continues, “When they show spontaneous interest in camp, that’s a good clue that the time is right.” In other words, if they bring up the topic of going to camp and mention they’d like to stay overnight, it’s a safe bet they’re up for the challenge.
Does your child have friends who attend overnight camp? Being able to spend time with friends they’re familiar with will also help your child be ready for staying overnight. They’ll want to be brave in front of their friends. Having people they’re familiar and comfortable with may make staying at overnight camp easier for their first year. After their first overnight camp experience, however, they may be willing and eager to try camp away from home and without friends.
Psychologists recommend telling your children it’s alright if they feel homesick when attending overnight camping for the first time. It is perfectly normal for children to think about home, wonder what’s going on without them and miss their family. The chances are that when they become involved in activities throughout the day they’ll be too busy to be homesick for long.
When it comes to knowing if your child is ready for overnight camp there are no hard and fast rules. Each child is an individual. A five year old who has spent the night with grandparents quite often might be able to attend an overnight camp for a week with no problem. The same isn’t necessarily the case for a twelve year old who hasn’t been away from their parents.
Talk to your child about going away to summer camp for a week or two and see how they react.
The Y Generation goes to camp: no electronics? WHAT!?
Children who attended summer camp in the past did so knowing they would have a week or so full of fun activities. Generation Y children of all ages, however, may have difficulties if they are sent to summer camp. Many of these children are dependent upon technology and feel they simply can’t do without it.
“Half of the battle is getting parents to buy into leaving these devices at home. These parents are younger and are used to having immediate access to their children. We ask them to trust us to take care of their children and contact them if the need arises,” states Sundeep Kaur, camp director of KCMV.
According to Sundeep Kaur, “I just attended a conference with Camp Directors from across the country. The rule across the board is that cell phones are not allowed.” Why are hand-held devices discouraged during summer camp? Campers who have their cell phone or other hand-held device which connects to the internet don’t get the full benefit of the camp experience. They are distracted by texting their school friends or accessing the internet that they aren’t able to make new friends.
In the past it was the older campers who were dependent upon cell phones, iPods, iPhones and handheld gaming systems. Now children as young as ten bring these items to camp and can’t understand why they’re not allowed to use them. Sundeep Kaur stated it is the junior high school students who have the most problem with the rules regarding technology devices. High school students understand the rules and now look forward to a time they can disconnect from the outside world.
Camps generally also discourage the use of the camp phone as much as possible. Part of the reason parents send their children to camp is to help them learn independence and self-confidence. Phone calls home are limited to emergencies so the campers will learn to lean on someone other than their parents. Not being able to call home for every problem encourages children to learn to solve their own problems and learn self-sufficiency. It also helps them turn to their camp counselors and build a trusting relationship with them.
WHY SEND YOUR KIDS TO CAMP?
There are so many good reasons to send a child to camp and I will make this piece short since the most important reasons are summed up quite easily.
Mark Diamond, Camp Manitou
Is your child ready for an overnight camp?