It is not easy for parents to decide to send their child away, especially into the arms of strangers. Although the counselors at summer camps promise to take care of them as their own and teach them amazing skills that we can’t, we still worry. As a parent of two children, even I can struggle with the idea, and I have been an owner of a summer camp for over eleven years.
There is, however, something magical about a summer camp experience, and each camp and counselor offers your child a fantastic opportunity to grow. As caregivers, we know the right camp will give our kids a chance to be the best they can be. Camps are designed to create happy memories and encourage self-expression. And your child will have fantastic opportunities trying things like climbing ropes, shooting arrows, and experiencing the success of winning as a team. Campers will learn a full range of feelings too; including homesickness, friendship, disagreements, teamwork, frustrations, happiness, and success.
Caring Counselors help children create new connections and to step outside their comfort zone in a fun way. Unplugging from technology presents an opportunity to commune with nature, and embrace their roles in stewardship of the land. They will develop skills throughout camp that are physically challenging like swimming and field sports and emotionally challenging like teamwork, creativity, and self-confidence.
Social and Emotional Growth
Camps are in the child development business. A child can make new friends, take care of their belongings, try new activities, and learn to take risks. Play serves as the underlying foundation of that business. It’s the business of childhood, learning, and experiencing life firsthand.
Play can help teach our children how to relate to others. It helps set ground rules and boundaries with their dependency on and interacting with others. It can also provide a venue where children learn essential social skills such as how to be a part of a group. They’ll learn to manage conflicts, self-discipline, anxiety, stress, and how to compete positively.
Play can stimulate a heightened sense of curiosity. The capacity of children to create a universe of their own making can help them expand their intellectual boundaries. When imagination and curiosity connect, the limits to creativity are endless. Having our children outside and enjoying themselves during summer will help them do better in school when the school year begins.
Camps Get Them Moving!
One in three children has a problem with their weight according to the American Pediatrics Association. 17% of American children are obese, and another 16% are deemed overweight. This current generation of children is the most sedentary group in American history. Among the more disturbing trends is the fact that the average child sits in front of some screen for roughly 7.5 hours per day. That translates into 50 hours of sedentary activity each week.
Camps have an unmatched opportunity to affect the physical development of children. Where else can a child experience the joy of purposeful movement? Where else can a child learn the true performance capabilities of their bodies? Where else can learning carry over into activities that may provide for a physically active lifestyle later in their lives? The need for camps to facilitate the physical component of the whole child has never been greater.
If the precept “children move to improve” has validity, then the converse is also true. Summer and day camps show children the best of human character. The world needs the next generation to be more tolerant of each other’s views, ideology, and beliefs. Carefully selected role models dedicate their summer to showing your child new ways to have fun, learn from others, and make friends in person rather than online.
Day Camps – An Alternative to Overnight Camp
Children need a break from organized learning and the pressures of school. Summer day camps are a way for children to turn their minds off and just be kids. The opportunity to enhance their physical, intellectual, and psychosocial development is essential. A nurturing day camp community addresses this perfectly without having to send them away.
With a day of camp, the parent still plays a significant role in the child’s daily life. In the evening, parents can work through obstacles that their children face and help them shape their solutions. This gives the child practice for when they have to work through issues on their own.
Camping Memories Last a Lifetime
It makes me a bit sad every time my son runs off to join his friends when we arrive at camp, without even a look back. At the same time, I burst with pride, watching him grow into a happy, independent, tolerant, open, confident, and capable person. Every day that my son comes home from camp dirty and sweaty, I feel that I have given him a priceless gift.
I still remember my 4H camp when I was 12. My counselor explained to me that, “The world is full of excuses. It does not matter where you come from or what happened to you. At the end of the day, you choose how you treat others.”
And just like when I was a kid, I look forward to hearing the stories of his day now and again when he’s an adult. The experiences of his moments of joy and simple successes will be a part of him for the rest of his life.
As parents, our hopes and responsibility are to encourage our kids to be productive, independent, and capable people – to prepare them to thrive without us. Summer camp offers a way for kids to start developing those
skills in the best possible environment.
Swim & Gym Camp 2019
SwimWest offers a swim/gym camp in partnership with Badger Gymnastics every summer. The Swim & Gym Camp provides children ages 5 to 13 who love being active the opportunity to try new things and making new friends. This summer, each week of camp will feature a particular theme. From Treasure Hunters to Star Wars and Super Heroes, we’ve got it all. Campers who enjoy swimming, gymnastics, basketball, soccer, tennis, karate, field trips, and many more types of adventure should sign up soon. Click on the link for more information and registration.