Summer is fast approaching, have you considered sending your kids to camp? Camp not only gives parents a break, and allows us to work, but both day and sleep away camps are mutually beneficial to both camper and parent. There are many reasons why camp is great for your child, here are just a few:
- Camp is a great excuse to unplug. Camp is a nice break to be free from technology and just enjoy ‘real’ time in nature, with your friends. Kids interact with each other face to face, use their imagination, create chants and cheers, play in the mud, play ball, tag, and run around – just be ‘kids’ and enjoy each other’s company. This ‘real kid time’ is becoming such a rarity in these more and more all-consuming, days of technology. In between games of Capture the Flag, Gaga and Ping Pong, the kids create connections with other kids and counselors. Experts agree that these real friendships, not superficial “likes” on Instagram or “friends” on Facebook, are the meaningful connections that are critical to a child’s development.
- Camp counselors can play a positive role in your kids’ life. “The relationships fostered at camp can have a tremendous influence on your child’s life, particularly from other kids and camp counselors,” says Michael Thompson, Ph.D., author of “Homesick and Happy: How Time Away from Parents Can Help a Child Grow.” The child-parent dynamic is so intense that kids sometimes need a different type of modeling. Older campers and counselors are intuitive teachers, and much cooler to an 11-year-old than parents and they can hugely (positively) impact your child.
- Camp helps kids’ development. According to Michael Ungar Ph.D., among the best known writers and researchers on the topic of resilience in the world, “Summer camps are perfect places to help children optimize their psychosocial development and help make children more resilient to life stress.” Summer camps are places where children get the experiences they need to bolster their range of coping strategies. There are the simple challenges of learning how to build a fire, going on a hike, or conquering a high ropes course. There are also the much more complex challenges of getting along with a new group of peers, learning how to ask for help from others, or taking manageable amounts of risk without a parent following after you. Camp lets kids roam and play in a way they rarely do in their own neighborhoods these days, and something that greatly enhances their development.
- Camp gives kids a new sense of self and independence. Camps offer kids a chance to feel like they belong. All those goofy chants and team songs, the sense of common purpose and attachment to the identity that camps promote go a long way to offering children a sense of being rooted. Camps also help children feel in control of their lives, and a renewed sense of independence, and they bring home those experiences of self-efficacy. We get that camp is not always full of ‘kumbayas’ and campfires, and just over-coming homesickness in itself, is a difficult feat with an enormous reward of self-independence, and something that a parent cannot teach their child. It’s one they must learn for themselves, and being in an environment like summer camp is an excellent way to do this. According to Dr. Ungar, “Children who experience themselves as competent will be better problem-solvers in new situations long after their laundry is cleaned and the smell of the campfire forgotten.”
- Camp helps kids reconnect with nature & stay active. Camp is a wonderful time to explore the great outdoors and enjoy the fresh air. Outdoor experience enriches kid’s perception of the world and supports healthy child development. Kids are also very active at camp – running, swimming, jumping, hiking, climbing, or even just walking to and from their bunk, kids spend most of their day being physically active. As children spend so much time these days inside and mostly sitting down, camp provides a wonderful opportunity to move.
For all of these reasons, camp should definitely be considered as part of your summer plans. I know some camps can be very expensive, so I’m not saying break the bank and send your kids to camp. But if you can afford it, it’s something that may help mold your child into a better being, and your kids will thank you for it. Day camp is also a great option if overnight camp is either too expensive or your child may be too young. Day camp is a good transition for younger kids, giving them all the benefits listed above without the overnight separation from their parents, and it’s usually significantly less expensive than overnight camps. Studies show that age 12 is typically a good age to start overnight camp, but of course it varies for every child.
*Dr Pops Tip: Make sure to include our Dr Pops All-Natural Lollipops in your child’s camp care packages. Packed with essential vitamins, these ‘treats’ will not only put a smile on your kids faces, but also boost their immune systems and help keep them from getting sick while away at camp.
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