Kids thrive on routine and structure. They provide a sense of direction in a world that is constantly changing, and helps them learn to cope with the unexpected as they grow up, and school is a huge source of this routine and structure for children. So when school is out for the summer, how do we continue to provide structure that will benefit kids (and their families) and help them transition back into school in the fall? One answer to this question is summer camps.
Summer camps provide structured opportunities for kids to get out of the house, interact with peers, and make fun memories. Attending camp gives kids something to look forward to and gives them structure during their break from school, which can lower stress for the whole family. In addition, summer camps provide many other social, mental, and learning benefits for kids and teens that can improve their lives throughout the summer break (and well beyond that).
They model healthy activities and behaviors
There’s a huge range of summer camps offered to kids nowadays, and each one of them models healthy activities and behaviors for kids. Whether it’s eating balanced meals, treating others with fairness and kindness, getting exercise, learning new skills, or tackling something kind of scary, camps reinforce many of the healthy activities and behaviors that kids learn at school.
They help kids unplug It’s no secret that children today are more connected than any other generation. According to a 2015 Pew Research study, 73% of teens have access to a smart phone, 81% have access to a gaming console, and 87% have access to a desktop or laptop. While the ability to be connected 24/7 can sometimes be a good thing, nothing can replace being social in person and enjoying nature.
Summer camps (unless they’re technology related) get kids to unplug and make friends the old fashion way (not by submitting a friend request online), and outdoor camps teach them to appreciate nature. Unplugging for even a few hours each day encourages kids to form friendships, be more productive, explore the world around them, and spend quality time with others.
They allow kids to reap the benefits of nature
Getting fresh air is just one of the perks of an outdoor summer camp. Nature has many benefits, including increased positivity, reduced stress, and increased imagination. Not to mention that most outdoor camps include some sort of physical activity, so campers gain positive exercise experiences through swimming, hiking, canoeing, and more. Summer camps give kids the opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors in a safe environment. What could be better?
They nurture social skills Summer camps are inherently social (kids interact with camp counselors and other campers daily), and they offer lots of opportunity for growth and increased self-confidence. In fact, the American Camp Association (ACA) surveyed 5,000 campers ages 8-14 (and their parents) and found that “96% of campers said camp helped them make new friends, and 92% said camp helped them feel good about themselves. Among parents, 70 percent said their child gained self-confidence at camp.”
They allow kids to explore other viewpoints and their own personality
Another social benefit of summer camps is the opportunity to interact with peers who they may not normally interact with throughout the rest of the year. This allows them to make new friendships and discover new ideas and opinions, which helps create empathy and open-mindedness. This also allows campers to sort of reinvent themselves, if they wish. As Parent Guide News pointed out, “Students often attend school year after year with the same peers, which can lead to labeling and being ‘stuck’ with a particular perception. Often times, a child will break out of his supposed categorization if given the chance.” Camp gives kids the chance to become un-stuck and discover more about themselves and their personality.
Part of the beauty of summer break is getting a break from the routine of school, but kids and teens still benefit greatly from having some sort of structure in their lives when they’re not in school, even if for only part of the summer. Why not give them the opportunity to experience the awesome benefits of a summer camp while secretly knowing that the camp will give them the routine and structure their brains need?
If you’re looking for a good place to start, check out Camp Hand-in-Hand. Although we do give preference to children and teens with disabilities, this camp is inclusive and we welcome individuals of all abilities to attend. There are still several spots open for both weeks of camp (July 16-20 and July 23-27) and we’d love to have your child there with us this year. There’s a daily routine which includes swimming, archery, hiking, horseback riding, fishing, and crafts. Need we say more?
Contact Mary Phillips today if you’re interested in signing your child up for Camp Hand-in-Hand!
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