April 6, 2017

Building Life Skills with Summer Camp

Summer camp was a right of passage for me which is why my kids attend!
My kids are stronger, better team members and excellent problem solvers
in part due to what they have experienced in going away to camp.

Every summer growing up, my parents sent me away for a week of summer camp. It started  with Girl Scout camp then ended up as a week away at overnight camp where horseback riding was the focus. In fact, I ended up becoming a wrangler at that camp! I remember my summer camp experiences fondly.

Those experiences helped me mature in many ways. I became more self-confident. As a child I marched to the beat of my own drummer and did not feel the pressure to give in to some of the bad habits many of my friends fell into as teens. The American Camp Association calls this the four "C's" of the camp community: compassion, contribution, commitment, and character! And certainly, going away to summer camp helped build that in me.

I've had a similar experience in sending my children away to summer camp. My kids started attending camp their summers before they went into 2nd grade. It was very clear in my daughter though.
Girls CAN do anything!


Overcoming Separation Anxiety

During my daughter's 1st grade year she had a terrible episode of separation anxiety. She would cry hysterically each morning, clinging to me in the drop-off lane. Often she would need to be pried off of me and carried into school. It was horrific for me. No one needs to start their day that way, not her or I!

She insisted though that she wanted to attend Girl Scout horseback riding camp. As a compromise, I choose a 4 day camp, where she would only be away 3 nights. I prepped her in the best way possible then hoped for the best. She was a bit apprehensive when arriving, but cried when she left and begged to stay longer. The changes in her after camp though were phenomenal. She came back more confident and ready to take charge.


Building Character

My son had a similar experience. In Cub Scouts you don't go solo to camp until you are a Webelo. After he completed 3rd grade though I sent him to the church camp. He has gone away to camp every year since then and has attended several weeks of camp since he's been a Boy Scout. In fact last summer he was away 4 weeks! FOUR!

I experienced the biggest growth from him after he went to scout camp. He came home more mature and composed and asked to cook dinner once a week and even to do some of his own laundry. Um, OK, who are you and what did you do to my son! That program had all older boys and they clearly rubbed off on him.

Kids who attend summer camp will try new things,
learn team building skills and become more resilient! 



Is My Child Ready?

"But is my child ready to go to sleep-away camp?" 

There is no age that is ideal for starting camp. Each parent will need to make individual decisions. The first thing to consider though is what TYPE of summer camp you are considering? Parents should also consider their child's development. Ask others about the summer camp their children attend.

Parents may even consider interviewing the camp or perhaps sending their child with a friend. I will say though that the year my child attended with a friend she did NOT have as much fun. The other little girl only partnered with my daughter and hung off her constantly hampering any growth for either child.
Is my child ready to
attend summer camp? You bet!


Foundations for Adulthood

Attending summer camp really will help your child build their foundation of adulthood. They will gain independence, and gain skills. They will be in a team-building atmosphere and learn resilience. They will learn to make decisions and try new things. Your child will mature in ways that will wow you and have memories that will last a lifetime.


What Are You Waiting For?

When children do well at school, they earn good grades. But when children succeed at camp, they learn valuable lessons. Attending summer camp will teach your child character-building skills that are good for life. I know it has done that for my kids!