As a person who attended summer camp for most of my youth, summer camp memories are some of the best I have. Spending days with my friends, learning from the counselors and just getting out of the house, made for incredible memories. On the contrary, the one summer I spent without camp I remember feeling trapped at home and simply bored out of my mind. My friends who attended camp echo the sentiment that simply put, summer camp rocks!
On a more psychological and developmental level, Peter Scales, Ph.D., a senior fellow with the Search Institute in Minneapolis, explains that “camp is one of the few institutions where young people can experience and satisfy their need for physical activity, creative expression and true participation in a community environment”. He further analyses that in a structured environment, such as camp, children get the opportunity to interact with positive role models who have time to talk, relax, and reflect. Children also learn to work together, make choices, take responsibility, develop creative skills, build independence and self reliance, and gain confidence. All of those skills are necessary steps on a child’s path to a healthy, productive life. Bruce Muchnick, a licensed psychologist explains that “the camp community seeks to satisfy children’s basic need for connectedness, affiliation, belonging, acceptance, safety, and feelings of acceptance and appreciation”.
The difference between us and most other summer camps is that while we are focused on providing a fun experience, we also aim to keep each child mentally stimulated and learning. According to the Wallace Foundation Study, by the end of summer, students perform, on average, one month behind where they left off in the spring – and these effects are cumulative. To combat such negative effects, the study identifies that students must continue to be mentally engaged. If a child experiences severe skill deterioration over the summer, they are likely to fall behind their peers the following year, and that cycle is very likely to continue if summers are wasted.
Summer camp offers so much for every child. It offers great memories, a great community, a fun learning environment, lays the groundwork for future success, and so much more.