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11 Benefits of Summer Camp

We are quickly approaching the summer months, during which I – and many others here at International Language Camps – will witness camps in action, and have the pleasure of hearing/reading feedback from a lot of parents and campers.

And while it’s always amazing to see just how many students are having a great time with their camp experiences, it’s the benefits and the outcomes; the stories of positive impact that really stand out.

While that is a lot of young minds absorbing the benefits of their CAMP experiences, that’s even more parents witnessing growth and development in their children. Thus, there is plenty of feedback to draw from and report on, from one summer alone.

So, I put this together because it’s important that parents understand everything camp has to offer. Many ask, « what is summer camp like? » and while the answers out there are good, there is another layer to consider.

I’ve heard from friends and family that the decision to send kids to a summer program really comes down to whether or not they can fit camp into their busy schedules, or, if there is a week or two during the summer where they’ll need daycare. Similarly, the thought that camp can actually be a learning or growth experience doesn’t factor into the equation as much as it should.

That’s unfortunate!

That said, I get it. If you have kids, you might think sending them to camp with other kids to play, have fun, learn, interact, etc. isn’t much different from a school experience, right? Thus, any benefits from camp could probably be attained from school, so why bother?

Well, truth be told, there are many benefits exclusive to the summer camp experience.

Why is Summer Camp Important?

Summer camp is important because it offers a structured opportunity for children to grow. Kids go from home to school to extracurriculars, with each environment contributing to their development. Summer camp, then, is another unique venue for growth, allowing kids to become independent and self-confident, while socializing and making new friends, and even learning new skills.

Summer Camp Benefits

1. Camp Helps Kids Build a Unique Interest

There aren’t many schools that offer video game design for kids, archery, or entrepreneurship. But, there are a number of camps that specialize in these activities (up to 14,000 camps in the US actually, as estimated by the American Camp Association).

So if your child has an interest in anything outside of the core school subjects or sports, where do they go to learn or gain experience? There might be a few after-school options like a robotics club, etc., but even then, you’re adding one more thing onto the plate of a student who already has homework and other commitments to juggle.

So, camp is one very good, distraction-free option, and allows for a time for kids to kick the tires on a new interest. From there, you never know what that interest might turn into….

2. Camp Reinvents and Eliminates Categories

I updated this post specifically to include this bit I came across from Parent Guide News:

« Students often attend school year after year with the same peers, which can lead to labeling and being ‘stuck’ with a particular perception. A child may become known as studious, quiet, etc., when, really, he can be boisterous in another setting. Children who go to day or sleepaway camps meet a whole other group of people in a different environment. Often times, a child will break out of his supposed categorization if given the chance. »

That is such a great point and something I’ve experienced personally, both through making changes in myself and witnessing changes through peers. Summer camp really can change lives.

We’ve all been shaped by our environments in one way or another, but when that shaping forms someone into a permanent, ill-fitting configuration, it’s difficult for them to « break out » unless they get out.

Camp allows kids to get out…and into an environment filled with others who see what is in front of them, rather than what they’ve been trained to see through years of false reinforcement.

Download our brochure to learn about getting your child started in a summer program.

3. Camp Allows for a Deep Dive Into New Skills

Even if your school does offer « different » activities, summer camp allows for a deeper dive.

Think about giving your child a week or more to be immersed in coding, or specific skill-building in a sport like Lacrosse. These opportunities exist at camp, and it’s tough to find such focused activity elsewhere. (Not to mention that if it is something like coding you choose this summer, there are a number of benefits of technology for children, on top of the camp benefits!)

Plus, kids and teens are able to really get out of their comfort zone to take some risks with their skills, without the looming fear of failure and resulting repercussions.

Summer Camp Benefit Quotes 1

4. Camp Leads to a New Type of Friendship-Building

Also, it’s not only a week engrossed in one particular sport, or subject, but it’s jumping into an activity with other kids serious enough about it to attend camp (just like your child).

I’ve heard it a million times from campers: “I’m in my element” or, “I’ve found my people!” Students who interact with like-minded peers are able to easily build friendships (potential lifelong friendships) rooted in similar interests. These relationships can lead to even more, as students are essentially networking, and have names to call on when it comes to doing a side project, finding an internship, or even starting a new businesses with the friend they met at Language summer camp, or wherever.

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Statistics above are from the ACA Youth Outcomes Study.

5. Camp Helps with Mental Stimulation & Physical Activity

We are all familiar with summer learning loss, summer brain drain, the slide, or whatever you want to call it. Many of us probably also feel that kids don’t get enough physical activity during the summer months as well.

Camp can get kids going, both mentally and physically. Have a child who loves video games? Who doesn’t? Camp will allow kids to get off of couches and into courses that teach them how to make games instead of simply playing. Camp will also allow for physical activity no matter their camp of choice.

6. Camp Reinforces Independence and Empowerment

Even if you think your kids are independent, nothing brings out and tests that independence more than giving them time away from you, on their own.

Without mom or dad around, who is going to make your child’s decisions? Who is going to tell them to brush their teeth? Make the bed? At camp, they themselves are.

Camp allows for a chance for children to truly understand the thought that goes into making a good decision, and will discover even more about themselves in the process. Not to mention (ear muffs for those parents who think they should be the only source of guidance for their kids), children can also lean on peers for support, if they do need additional help. There are a number of other life skills kids and teens can establish at camp, too.

7. Camp Allows for Confidence to be Reinforced by Success

With activity and growth comes success or failure. Whether it is Climbing or Rafting, each activity comes with its own set of mini milestones and tests. Some of these activities might be brand new to your child, while others could be extensions of what they already know.

Maybe they’ve never played tennis before, or perhaps they’ve played tennis but have never attempted an overhand serve. By getting out on the court and learning to play tennis, or even putting together some form of an overhand serve, an increase in confidence will result. From there, your student leaves camp with internal support strong enough to compel them to try out for the school tennis team…and then who knows what they will become.

Summer Camp Benefits Quote 2

8. Camp Leads to Creativity, Free of Judgement

Technically a skill, I could have put this bit on creativity in the above section. But, it’s important enough to stand on its own.

Creativity can’t be stifled at camp because students don’t have to worry about getting a failing grade, as mentioned above. It is only when kids are free of such restriction that their creativity can flourish.

9. Camp Builds All-Around Resilience

This is a culmination of many of the above benefits. New friendships, confidence, independence, sense of belonging. All of these things contribute to the development of your child as they make strides from being a kid to a strong, considerate, competent adult.

10. Camp Instills Appreciation and Gratitude

And let’s not forget, time away from home helps kids appreciate home, their parents, their belongings, a meal cooked by mom or dad, and everything else they don’t have at camp.

Unfortunately, the appreciation doesn’t last long in most kids, and might take more than a week away for them to truly appreciate all that’s given to them on a daily basis. But, appreciation definitely takes shape at camp.

Summer Camp Benefits Quote 3

11. Camp is Fun and Entertaining (of Course!)

I put this last for a reason. Not because it isn’t important, but because I want to solidify the idea that there are many factors that go into the decision to send your child to camp, and it shouldn’t hinge solely on whether or not they need to be entertained for a week, month, etc.

Summer camp is many things. If you regularly send your kids to camp, now you have a few new benefits to look out for, and harvest in your children.

If you send your son or daughter to camp to have fun, that is great! But also try and prep them beforehand to ensure they maximize their ability to attain the benefits above.

And last, if you haven’t yet sent your child to camp, and you’re wondering what summer camp does for kids, I hope this helps in your future planning.

Next step? Just think about camp differently.

How summer camps prepare kids for college?

Sending children to summer camp does more than keep them entertained for the season – here are 10 ways it prepares them for the transition to collegiate life.

language summer camp in france

 

At age 7, I went to day summer camp and by 10 I began going to sleepaway camp. Summer after summer, I yearned for the end of school with excitement, though always with trepidation and a dash of worry as well. But the minute I opened the car door, or the bus pulled up to my camp I was at home, and that feeling never waned. Eight years after my first sleepaway camp experience, I headed off to college and that same mixture of emotions came along for the ride. Drawing on my summer camp experience, I was happy to discover, made the transition easier. Remembering the fun that superseded the fear, the compassion that outranked the chaos, and the learning that leveled the playing field helped more than any college preparatory book I could have read or any “what to know before you go to college” podcast I could have listened to (if those had existed at the time, of course !) What my camp friends and I learned stayed with us, transferred to others, and wove itself into the fabric of our being. As a camper and counselor, camp gave the informal credit I needed to prepare for college. Here at 10 things I learned at camp that helped with the transition.

Learn to accept change

This is probably the most significant lesson from camp that translates to college and then to life. Learning the only things we have control over are our attitudes, outlook, and responses is not an easy feat. Our cabins were decided before we arrived, and sometimes our friends weren’t with us or perhaps new friends left before the summer’s end. Counselors shifted each season and the new ones had very different personalities than our previous leaders. We could find these changes, be angry when they happened, and let it ruin our camp experience, or we could find a way to accept the change, experience the new and learn and grow. In college, friendships, roommates, and even majors change. Dealing with change isn’t easy but it’s fantastically necessary. As we progress in years, the changes we deal with get more difficult so our ability to accept what we can’t change must grow – and camp starts that process

Be flexible and go with the flow

You go to canteen and it’s out of Strawberry Shortcakes that day. The cabin night you were waiting for is rained out, so now your evening activity in indoors in the lodge. These things happen. Summer Camp teaches us to go with the flow. Our tongues turning blue from a new favorite popsicle, wearing pyjamas to evening program instead of wearing layers to the beach, and empathizing with a friend while focusing on having fun with new ones for the duration of camp. That flexibility is necessary in the college stage and beyond. Sometimes our choices are taken away, sometimes the aboard program is unavailable and sometimes we can’t get into that last class needed to complete our major until the following semester. Camp teaches us to let go; that the more relaxed we can be, the easier the shifts will become; and that the more flexible we are, the better it is for our health and well-being.

Embrace and learn from diversity

At some point in every camp experience, we meet people who are different from us. Showing interest in those differences makes us better people and learning from those differences widens our comfort zones and broadens our minds. Cabin and unit mates come from many backgrounds and all bring somethings different to the table. As the number of people with whom we interact increases, the amount of diversity we encounter grows. We meet people on day one of camp, and by day three we feel as if we’ve know them forever. Summer Camp facilitates meeting new people, lessens the fear in that meeting, and manages to make connecting with strangers more amazing than scary. Having that confidence in making new friends makes it much easier to do the same at freshman orientation. At camp and at school, we spend time with people and we learn their desires and struggles, likes and dislikes and upbringing and dream of what’s to come. Camp and college provide an opportunity to make those strangers become fast friends, take notice of and embrace the differences, and learn more about the world around us.

Don’t be afraid to be Yourself

We all have strengthes and weaknesses, successes and failures, likes and dislikes, dreams and aspirations, and thoughts that bring us utter peace. If all of those where the same for our bunkmates, camp would be boring. I loved swimming and arts and crafts. One of my best friends could spend her entire day at the farm, while the other two practically lived at the barn with the horses. There were those who loved the talent show, while others shied away from the spotlight. There were those who were leaders and other who were not. All of us have a safe place to grow at camp. University campuses and courses widen that playing field too, but those of us who went to camp learned at an early age that we could be ourselves and be proud of who we are. It’s those lessons we reach for in the dorm room during moments that are coupled with the fear at we might not be enough.

Everyone gets homesick

Perhaps it happened after you read a letter or e-mail from home. Perhaps is happened after visiting days. Perhaps is happened after a bad dream, or when you fell off a horse, got your first tick, or had that first bellyache at camp. At the one point or another, all of us had twinges of homesickness. But at the camp there is often a friendly shoulder, and ear to lend, or open arms for a hug that lessened the homesickness and reminded us we could get through. Homesickness happens at college, too, but at camp we learned there’s another side, another day, and always someone to help, whether it’s your roommates, a friend, a professor or an advisor. And sometimes we’re even better equipped to handle homesickness in college because we remember what it felt like at camp and how we overcame it. Feeling homesick happens to the most popular kids, the best athlete and everyone in between. Homesickness is real, but it’s manageable. I learned that lesson at camp.

Respect yourself and others

Summer camp provides us freedom we might not be used to while encouraging us to make good choices, take care of ourselves, and use good judgment. These lessons continue after we leave the grounds in August. Summer camp discourages bullying, teaches us to speak up for fellow campers and ourselves, and reminds us that although we’re away from home and school our character still counts and our actions have consequences. College life comes with privileges of freedoms, new people and new attitudes, and many of the same choices as camp. Remembering the advice of camp counselors from our youth who constantly reminded us to respect ourselves stays with us and often pops up in critical moments when we have difficult choices to make.

Share your skills and your stuff

Jill always brought the coolest clothes and stuff to camp. No one knew more about all things agricultural than Erin. Mr Bill could fix everything, and his wife made the best ices in the world (well according to us). Carolyn showed us how to make a one-match fire, and Maryanne introduced us to our favorite crumb cake recipe. Some people shared stuff, some shared knowledge, and other shared experiences and it all mattered. Those who had something to share felt good knowing they were able to help someone else. Those who benefited from the generosity felt a connection, a boost in positivity, and often a desire to continue to pay it forward. College is much the same. Sometimes it’s as simple as sharing a pizza, lending out a sweatshirt, copying class notes for a sick friend, or explaining a statistic problem a 3am to your stressed-out roommate. At the camp we borrowed clothes, lent encouragement and shared our knowledge. It was never about who had or knew the most or the best of anything: it was about those with the biggest hearts, the kindest ears, and the ability to be there. It mattered then, and it will continue to matter throughout college and the years thereafter.

Everyone has something to teach and to learn

Trish the nurse taught me to safely remove a tick. Mr Bill showed me how to chop down a tree. Laura taught us to sing our heart out, Millie taught us to cook, Adrienne showed us how to make our well-worn beaded camp bracelet, and I stayed late studying lifeguarding with Jackie. We all pitched in and we all offered up what we knew. But it was more than just tangible things, Krista taught me to deal with change, campmates taught me the magic of friendship, and hundreds of counselors taught me kindness, courage, resilience and perseverance. College was no different. We learn from our professor, our advisors, our friend, our surroundings, and often locals and strangers. Having an open mind, acknowledging that lessons come in all forms, having willingness to share what we know and showcasing the ability to listen and share. Camp introduced us to these lessons, and for that we are forever grateful.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

The road from girls’ to boys’ camp was covered by the tree canopy and lined with shrubbery. At night, there were parts of the path where you could barely see the glow of the stars. Whenever we had events at boys’ camp, fear of that dark set in. Erin was always there with a hand to lend. If she walked in the middle of the road, anyone whose arms or hands were intertwined with hers was safe from the brush and the creatures of the night. In college, I never would have gotten through without the help of my science, and math minded friends. When the methods were confusing and laden with frustration, those friends stepped in to lend a hand. Camp taught us to not be afraid to ask for help, whether we needed a hug when we were sad, a boost to reach the top of the rope, a spot with that back-handspring, a buddy for swimming or a friend with whom to walk alone. Later in life, we were filled with the knowledge that asking for help only made us stronger, and we were often prepared to lend a hand when asked.

Face your fears

Nature’s creepy crawlies, their webs in all sorts of knobby corners at camp, and our bathrooms outside. Then there was the swim test on the first day of the season. Summer camps taught us the need to face our fears in order to conquer them, to not get swallowed up by those emotions, and to always offer to help others face their own fears. As our world grows, often so do our fears. College finds us in new spaces, with new people and new experiences. Each time we try to push past that comfort zone, there’s fear. Camp reminds us that those fears (whether failure or spiders) are normal, don’t make us any “less” and are conquerable. Jackie got back on the horse after she was thrown off. Jill got back in a canoe after she busted her foot, and I jumped off the biggest rock I’ve ever seen. We knew the future was full of unknowns, failures were bound to happen, obstacles would most certainly pop up, but we also knew all those things we had to overcome were manageable.

 

Stacey Ebert is a camper at heart who has spent more than 25 years in the camping and education industries in New York as a teacher, club advisor, counselor and aquatics director. She is a published writer, blogger, event planner, volunteer manager, and educator always in search of joy. She loves travel, spending time outside, and is an avid yogi. She has visited more than 50 of the world’s countries and met her Australian-born husband while on a trip in New-Zealand. Check out her blog at thegiftoftravel.wordpress.com

 

Que faisons-nous quand nous ne sommes pas au camp?

Nous adorons le camp, c’est l’instant où nous nous éloignons de notre «vraie vie» et nous profitons de l’été avec des enfants du monde entier. Malheureusement, nous devons ensuite retourner à notre quotidien début Septembre pour la plupart d’entre nous, alors que faisons-nous?

Eh bien, en tant que directrice du camp, mon été est consacré à l’organisation, la priorisation, le traitement de tous les problèmes et de temps en temps des moments de plaisir et de partage! Après une pause bien méritée, je travaille de nouveau pour notre école de langues en tant que responsable pédagogique, ma principale priorité étant les examens d’anglais de Cambridge Assessment English, où je suis la principale coordonnatrice et formatrice des examinateurs locaux. Je fais aussi un peu d’enseignement aux enfants dès l’âge de 5 ans jusqu’aux adultes ayant besoin d’anglais pour le travail.

Pour le reste de l’équipe, Brandon, un de nos professeurs d’anglais, travaille avec moi toute l’année et un certain nombre d’animateurs poursuivent leurs études: Maud est à Lyon en Master de droit, Sophie aux Pays-Bas en gestion des affaires internationales, Simon étudie à Genève pour devenir pharmacien, Diana termine un diplôme en langues. D’autres travaillent: Dylan enseigne l’anglais en Espagne et Jonathan enseigne le français au Pérou. Quant à Tom, il vient de passer son diplôme pour enseigner l’anglais comme langue étrangère et envisage son prochain déménagement!

Rendez-vous cet été où nous laisserons de nouveau nos «vraies vies» à la maison pour vivre de nouvelles aventures avec vous !

Article de Tina Munnings, notre directrice du camp