Why Summer Camp is Great for Kids
One of the images synonymous with summer for many people is camp. Lazy hours sitting by the lake, trinkets built in arts and crafts, and friendships that last a lifetime (full disclosure: I work at one and it’s my favorite place in the world, so I’m definitely biased.)
But camp is not just a place for kids to goof off. It has real, lifelong benefits, speaking both educationally and socially. Summer camps offer children the opportunity to begin focusing in on a lifelong passion. Even if your child goes to a more general sports or outdoors camp, they have the opportunity to discover activities they would not in school. And if they do have a subject in school that they’re very passionate about, you can send them to a specialized camp that can zero in on that subject in a way that school does not.
Summer camp also has incredible social benefits. Camp allows children to manage their time, problem solve, and choose their friends without their usual safety nets and support systems. This process is of course incredibly valuable for the return to school and “real” life. It’s the same process that makes college so valuable for older students. Many parents who send their child to summer camp see improvements in maturity, problem solving and self-confidence come the fall, and those improvements lead to higher grades, but more importantly, a better adjusted and happier child!
So now you know why you should send your child to summer camp. But what should you send them with? Obviously, different camps will have different lists based on what kind of camp they are (you might need slightly different attire for a canoeing camp versus a math camp,) but here are some universal things that will help your child get the most out the experience.
Camp is good for fostering independence, but you’re not cutting your kids off entirely! Writing letters home is a wonderful way for you and your child to stay connected during this time apart, and also helps them practice writing skills. Make sure they arrive at camp with solid supplies of pens, pencils, paper and envelopes, and that they know their address!
One of the best things camp does for kids is unplugs them from the gadgets that can consume their lives. Getting them away from their phones allows them to rediscover things like“reading.” Remember that? Reading is one of the best things a child can do for their brain, as we laid out earlier this year . Help your child take advantage of this great reading time by sending them with some great things to read!
Camp is a place where kids can let their hair down and get away from the pressure to be “cool.” Many camps foster this by putting on skits or having crazy themed days. Send your child with some appropriately outrageous attire.
Although not the coolest piece of attire, a headlamp can be a crucial tool in a child’s summer camp utility belt. Most, if not all, children will struggle at some point with homesickness during their camp experience. By far the most common time that homesickness rears its head is at night, when the fun of the day has past and there’s more time to be alone with scary thoughts. Reading at night can be a tremendous tool to combat this, and a headlamp allows your child to do that without worrying about waking up their bunkmates or having to leave their bed.
Sending your child off to summer camp can be as scary for you, the parent, as it is for them. It’s a transition that foreshadows the trip to college in terms of marking a moment of growing up. But if you do send your child off, you will be amazed at how camp can benefit your child after the summer comes to a close.