Ah, the memories of summer camp! Maybe it was the first time you caught a fish in a lake or paddled a boat, climbed a mountain or modeled a bowl out of clay, wrote a chorus of music or caught a glimpse of what your true life’s passion might be. Maybe you simply made a new best friend or two.
Adventures at summer camp can—without a doubt—be life-changing! Once you take the plunge, you’ll likely be back again, summer after summer, and while you might not always be outdoors, you’ll be discovering activities that really interest you. For some, it might be finding the melody in their hearts or the mix of colors that make them smile, and music and art camps are especially wonderful opportunities to build confidence. At the end of camp you may get to perform on stage or display your drawings or paintings. If you’ve been shy about sharing your talents, summer camp is a perfect time to show them off to family and friends. Arts classes and activities are proven to boost language, social, cognitive, and motor skills, as well as inspire inventive thinking that transcends the childhood and teen years and extends on into adulthood!
When adults share memories of summer camp they often remember being nervous on the car ride there, but immediately finding a new friend who felt exactly the same way. By Friday, marking the end of camp, they were already happily making plans to reconnect with each other the next summer! After a couple of years, they may remember becoming junior counselors themselves, taking on new responsibilities, while also learning a little more about themselves along the way.
Besides the bonus of forming new friendships and uncovering new interests, attending summer camp strongly fosters independence and empowerment in children and teens, and to their parents’ delight, gives many of them the chance to yield a little “screen time” to take a break from technology and form a connection with nature and the outdoors. Learning to swim for the first time and finally feeling comfortable in and around the water, and even learning official live-saving skills to carry them through life, is definitely time well spent.
For many kids the main goal of a summer camp experience may be overcoming a fear of sleeping away from home, or a fear of heights or even being near the water. Compassionate, encouraging camp counselors are long-remembered fondly for helping their young charges overcome a personal fear, often forming bonds that can last a lifetime.
On a personal note, my son was a bit shy and reluctant when we arrived at his first day of music camp at a local university, and literally couldn’t be convinced to go inside. He went on to major in music in college and plays a variety of instruments. Encourage your children to take a chance, follow a new path, and learn something new this summer—their camp experience will take them far!