Why Summer Camp Rocks
Last summer upon returning home from summer camp, how many of us recall the neighborhood kid yelling, “Camp rocked!!!” That’s awesome, neighborhood kid! So what, in essence, makes summer camp rock? Let’s take a look at some reasons.
- Form Lasting Friendships
Summer camp may only last a week, but during that week kids have an opportunity to develop relationships that last for a lifetime. Developing relationships at school can be difficult. At school, there are pre-existing social rules that sometimes prevent children from making friends. Students may avoid making friends with someone their peer group has labeled ‘uncool’ or ‘unapproachable’. Once the labels are set, they stick. However, surrounded by a new environment, these labels cease to exist at summer camp. When kids encounter a new, unfamiliar place like camp they forget social cues and make friends with fellow campers. Making friends turns a new, strange place into a warm and inviting one. Years after meeting at summer camp, you will find that camp friends still get together to talk about shared camp experiences.
- Good Academic Refresher
Over the summer, when kids are not in school, they experience about two months of learning loss. According to the study, ‘The Effects of Summer Vacation on Achievement Test Scores’, researchers, H. Cooper, B. Nye, K. Charlton, J. Lindsay and S. Greathouse, found that children can lose 1 to 3 months of learning over the summer1. Camp is the perfect combatant for summer learning loss. At camp kids participate in many enrichment activities that exercise their brain. For example, if children participate in a book study they enhance their reading and analysis skills. If they go horseback riding, their instructors teach them how to ride and tell them interesting facts about Equestrianism2. Kids learn all the while having fun.
- An Opportunity to Try Something New
Often times in structured programs or schools, kids avoid trying an activity because of fear of failure. They are worried about receiving a low grade or ‘looking stupid.’ At summer camp kids can try numerous activities without this fear. With camp counselors there to encourage them and share stories about their first time trying something new, kids’ fear of ‘looking stupid’ is diminished. They may discover a new interest that they never knew they had. How do we know if we are passionate about something unless we know it exists and have experienced it?
- Self-esteem Booster
What an incredible feeling it is to learn that you are good at something. And not only are you good at it—you really enjoy it. When children discover a skill they never knew they had, which they often do while at camp, they experience a major boost in self-esteem. They experience this not only at camp, but also when they come home and share this skill with family and friends. Even if children do not learn a new activity, they will come home refreshed from a week full of positivity. They made new friends who think they’re awesome and their counselors saw their strengths and encouraged them to grow. This is not to say that children don’t receive this attention at home. But, how many of us refuse to believe the positive comments our family members give us until we’ve heard the same comments from someone we barely know?
- Kids Get Excited about Being Outdoors and Exercising
Whether they live in the city or sprawling country-side, the outdoors may not appeal to children until they are presented with possibilities. One of the activities children may participate in at summer camp is an outdoor game. When they return home, their backyard or the park is no longer a plot of land they pass by on their way to town. It is a place they can hang out and share their newly learned game with friends. Playing their game doubles as exercise. Being physically active reduces risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes, strengthens bones and muscles, and increases chances of living longer4. Being outdoors also improves the mental well-being of children. According to an article in the Huffington Post, a study conducted in 2008 by the Scottish Health Survey found that outdoor physical activity had a 50 percent greater positive effect on mental health than going to the gym3. All that green space and fresh air, lowers stress levels.
- Camp is Fun, Kids Love Fun.
The last reason is the simplest of all. Camp rocks because kids have a blast there! Amidst a stressful day—when our work and home schedules are crammed—many of us adults find ourselves thinking back to simpler times. We wish that we could have one nice, long week of playing outside in the sun. Perhaps we cannot do this, but we can give our kids the opportunity to make their own summer memories – memories that will last for years to come. When they come back from camp don’t forget to ask them about their time and share the summer memories you had as a kid. They’ll love it and so will you!
– By Megan Hunsberger
- Cooper, Harris, Nye, Barbara, Charlton, Kelly, Lindsay, James, and Greathouse, Scott. “The Effects of Summer Vacation on Achievement Test Scores: A Narrative and Meta-Analytic Review.” Review of Educational Research. 1996
- McLaughlin, Brenda., Smink, Jeffrey. “Why Summer Learning Deserves a Front-Row Seat in the Education Reform Arena.” The Johns Hopkins University New Horizons for Learning. May 2010
- “Outdoor Exercise: Health Benefits Of Working Out Outside.” The Huffington Post. 17 Jun 2010. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/23/outdoor-exercise-health-benefits_n_1616467.html
- “Physical Activity and Health” 4 Jun 2015. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/pa-health/