Photos provided by American Camp Association, NY and NJ
There’s no doubt that summer camp is loads of fun but it also provides kids with a learning environment where important life skills are gained. In order to thrive in the future, young people must develop soft skills such as problem-solving, communication, creativity, leadership, responsibility and collaboration, according to research done by the not-for-profit organization Partnership for 21st Century Learning. In a study of its own hiring and termination, Google found that soft skills are most important at their organization, as reported by the Washington Post. While school is great for reading, writing and math, the skills needed to be successful in life are all skills that are fostered in a camp environment. Here are just a few of the skills your child will gain at summer camp that will help him or her become a successful adult in the 21stcentury.
Kids eight to 18 spend an average of 7 hours 38 minutes a day with digital media, according to a study by the Kaiser Foundation. Camp is one of the last unplugged environments, allowing children to take a healthy and much-needed break from technology by leaving their ipads, smart phones and XBoxes at home. Instead of texting and snap chatting, children speak face to face, practice one-on-one communication and build strong interpersonal skills.
Camp offers children so many opportunities to be leaders. Whether it’s a camper leading their group in a camp cheer or being matched up with a younger camper as a “big brother” or “big sister” for the summer, camp allows young people to gain the skills needed to become leaders.
Campers are constantly collaborating. Teamwork happens on the field playing a team sport, on the lake paddling a canoe, at the ropes course doing a trust exercise and each day working together to clean up the bunk. No matter what profession your child pursues in the future, he or she will need to be able to work as part of a team.
Creativity is celebrated and encouraged every day at camp. In just one day, a camper might create a camp song, tie-dye a shirt, make a bead bracelet, take photos, rehearse for the camp play and learn how to play the guitar.
Children become part of a loving and nurturing community at camp where they eat together, support each other at activities, bond over shared traditions and at overnight camp, live together. Overnight camp is a wonderful prelude to children going off to college and children who have attended sleepaway camp often report an easier transition to being away at school.
Children learn to rely on themselves more when they are at camp. By being away from their parents, whether for day camp or overnight camp, children are trying new things on their own and solving their own problems without the help of mom and dad. This builds confidence and encourages children to trust their own instincts.
Camp builds resilience. Today’s children have grown up in an environment where parents try to solve every problem they have and shield them from feeling any kind of uneasiness. But what happens when these kids become adults? Children need to learn how to face adversity but move through it and know they will be ok. At camp, children often go to camp not knowing anyone, feeling a bit out of their comfort zone but quickly realize they are going to be just fine. Sometimes children get homesick but a week later, they work through it and have a great time at camp. Giving your child the opportunity to gain resilience will give them the tools they need to become adults who can handle any situation they are faced with.
For over 20 years, Renee Flax has been the Camper Placement Specialist for the American Camp Association, NY and NJ, a not for profit organization dedicated to enhancing the summer camp experience. Renee has an extensive knowledge of each camp’s philosophy, program and facilities and visits dozens of camps every summer. Each year, she helps hundreds of parents find a day or overnight camp for their child. Renee is recognized as an authority on summer camp and has been featured in the New York Times, Associated Press and NJ.com, among other media outlets. Renee takes great pleasure in helping families find the right camp for their child.