Every summer, kids (and parents) everywhere start whistling a similar little diddy when summer camp begins because they look forward to the time off from school and some time to enjoy the hot weather!
Summer camp is not just a place to send kids while school is out. Choose the right camp and it can also be a phenomenal educational experience for children.
CAMPS ENCOURAGE PERSONAL GROWTH
"Summer camp programs can help your children test their boundaries socially, physically, mentally and emotionally," says Claire Haas, a working mother and the vice president for education at Kiddie Academy. "The more relaxed atmosphere of a summer program helps open children up to new experiences. The right program can help a child develop leadership skills and a sense of independence, which are important building blocks for future academic and personal success."
CAMPS HELP CURB SUMMER LEARNING LOSS
Educational summer camps are a great way to explore new academic areas that kids don't have time for during the year because of school commitments and extracurricular activities. Try a new camp each week and you may see there is interest from kids who never considered math, electronics or virtual robotics as something they would enjoy. This also stops the "brain drain" from happening, which usually occurs when kids are doing nothing or have unlimited screen time. Camp provides mental stimulation in fun ways kids can enjoy.
Summer camp gives kids the opportunity to try something new, according to Haas. "It gives children a chance to explore their abilities and learn new skills," she says. "Camp can even allow your child to sample a new hobby before committing to six months of dance, music or martial arts lessons."
CAMPS BUILD SELF CONFIDENCE AND SELF ESTEEM
"The building blocks of self-esteem are belonging, learning, and contributing. Camps offer unique opportunities for children to succeed in these three vital areas and even beyond home and school."
Michael Popkin, Ph.D., family therapist and founder of Active Parenting
"The biggest plus of camp is that camps help young people discover and explore their talents, interests, and values. Most schools don't satisfy all these needs. Kids who have had these kinds of (camp) experiences end up being healthier and have fewer problems which concern us all."
Peter Scales, Ph.D., noted author/educator, and Senior Fellow, The Search Institute
CAMPS ENCOURAGE HEALTHFUL LIVING
Physical activity is crucial for heart health and maintaining a healthy weight, and it boosts confidence and helps manage stress. It is important to teach the necessity of physical activity when children are young so they can carry exercise habits into adulthood.
Kids have the opportunity to participate in all kinds of fun physical activities at any skill level. All children will have the opportunity to participate in physical activity, no matter what camp they choose.
Camps can also teach kids about healthy nutrition and lifestyle habits. The food options camps provide – and/or the healthy behaviors they teach – are more important than ever.
CAMPS TEACH TEAMWORK AND FOSTER HEALTHY SOCIALIZATION SKILLS
Teamwork matters because it helps develop communication skills, emotional intelligence, and leadership skills. The power of teamwork is evident throughout each day at summer camp as kids discover how working with other campers enhances their experience.
An understanding of teamwork helps a child realize working with others is sometimes the most efficient way to get things done. They will value teamwork as a solution, rather than think they need to handle tasks on their own. As a result, children will grow up with an eagerness to be active members of their community.
Ed McMasters, a father of two, sends his children to summer camp and says he's recognized the following benefits of attending camp in his own children. He says they:
- have something to look forward to each summer
- meet and make new friends
- get to experience diverse backgrounds and cultures of kids that attend camp
- learn a sense of independence
- consider the completed week as an achievement
- have some serious talking topics for the rest of the summer
For parents, it is important for you to give your child the opportunity to build character, gain independence, and have fun in a caring environment. Share positive messages about summer camp before they go. Offer positive encouragement that you know he or she will have a successful summer. Remember that kids adjust to a new experience and a new environment before parents get used to the next stage of development. You are giving your child a gift by sending them out into the world (in a safe setting) and telling them they will be "ok" in this world on their own. Guess what? You will be ok too!
Summer camp registration is going on NOW! It is not too early to be thinking about how your children will spend their summer months. Check out the local listings in our Summer Camp Guide.
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