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Camp – More Than Fun For Kids

When your child goes to camp, you know he’s going to meet new kids, make friends, and have fun. Yet, the camp experience can provide much more than just a great time. Camp offers kids a wide variety of experiences to expand their thinking, strengthen their self-esteem, and enhance their self-reliance.

Build Confidence
Camp provides opportunities for kids to build confidence. Both day camps and overnight camps are structured around tasks and games that will challenge your child with specifically designed, age-appropriate activities. They are set up to stretch your child’s physical and mental abilities within a secure atmosphere. “Self-confidence for most kids is enhanced as a result of being given the opportunity to succeed and take healthy risks in a safe and supportive environment,” says Riel Peerbooms, Executive Director of Trail Blazers.org.

As a parent, you might not challenge your child to try something that you consider too hard or scary. Yet at camp, the environment is electrified with possibilities and opportunities. Your child can explore new activities with teammates and become more confident.

New Challenges
Your child will likely meet kids from different economic or cultural backgrounds. Kids from different states might find themselves cabin mates. This broadens a youngster’s view of the world and exposes hime to another kid’s similar or often very different likes and dislikes or family jokes. “This is what camp does best…provide nurturing environments with lots of personal attention, where kids can explore new external and internal worlds,” says Peerbooms.

Children will likely be exposed to foods that they would never touch at home. Yet if it’s in the camp setting and your child sees all the other campers munching on something new, he might agree to try it. Maybe when he comes home, he’ll even try your newest dish without making that “icky” face.

Camp also provides a variety of different challenges which can allow a child to explore new areas of interest. Depending on the type of camp your child attends, he may try archery, canoeing, survival skills, clay creations, or fitness, and even be surprised to find that he loves it.

Camps are also designed to allow kids to take risks in trying new activities and possibly failing at them the first time. Kids learn that they can keep trying at some event until they get better at it and maybe even master it. With such a competitive outside world, kids can set personal goals and measure their own progress while at camp.

And if the child has been to camp before, he is likely to come to an event or a game with a higher level of confidence because he is a little more experienced than the other campers. He “knows the ropes,” so to speak.

Relationship Building
Camp can level the playing field when it comes to being the geek, the jock, or the shy child. Campers may be seen as one of the gang rather than as the label they usually wear at home. In most cases, activities are non-academic, so children may shine at different games. Kids that excel musically or are spatially aware or creative will have more opportunities to improve their skills with other campers. “Camp offers a judgment-free environment where, for the most part, everyone dresses the same, engages in the same activities, and shares common goals and values,” says Stephen Wallace, Director of Counseling and Counselor Training at Cape Cod Sea Camps.

Cabin members are a team and all members are required to be responsible to their team. This is a great learning opportunity if you have a child that can’t seem to remember to pick up his dirty clothes. At camp, he may find that his cabin needs to be tidy in order to receive a clean cabin award and be motivated to work towards that goal. Peer pressure often has a very positive influence. (A parent can always hope!!)

Mentoring
Camp counselors have an amazing amount of energy and are a boundless source of fun for your child. They are excited for your kid to be at camp and can act as a wonderful support system for him. Kids often look up to counselors because they are typically the “cool” people in camp.

Counselors seem to have a knack for having fun and being silly in appropriate ways. Yet, they mentor kids and have a blast while doing it. “Camp counselors help young people become self-confident by helping them establish and meet realistic goals for themselves and to feel accepted and successful,” says Wallace.

Camp is an exciting experience for kids because it’s where they can try new things and be challenged in a safe environment. They’ll make great friends, stretch themselves, and maybe get to sing cool songs and eat s’mores around the campfire! Don’t you wish you were a kid again?