Each year, millions of children attend summer camp. Families send their children to day or residential camps for many reasons – perhaps their children are looking for adventure, or maybe they need to continue academic work once the school year has ended. There is another reason to consider summer camp that goes beyond giving your child a unique recreational activity or an academic edge – research shows that attending a summer camp, actually promotes healthy youth development in four key areas:
- Positive identity
- Social skills
- Physical and thinking skills
- Positive values
A 2006 study showed that summer camps not only promote positive development during camp but that the benefits extend beyond summer and into the school year. The researchers collected data from 80 ACA-accredited camps. In order to be accredited, the camps must meet up to 300 health, safety, management, and program standards – no easy feat. The researchers administered a questionnaire to campers, their parents, and camp counselors. Questions measured ten areas of development including leadership, self-confidence, independence, and values. Campers and parents were asked to answer the questions “on a 4-point Likert scale: Disagree a Lot, Disagree a Little, Agree a Little, and Agree a Lot.” Parent and student questionnaires were completed before camp started, on the second to last day of camp, and six months after camp had ended. Camp counselors provided observations of the campers under their supervision to the researchers at the beginning and end of camp.
Campers and their parents both reported growth from the time they started a camp to the day it ended. Even better, both groups reported that the personal growth was maintained six months after camp had ended. Growth was seen in four major areas:
- Peer Relationships
- Social Comfort
The researchers concluded that the positive development that occurred during camp was due to the experience of being at the camp itself, not just natural growth over the summer. “Growth at camp significantly exceeded growth attributable to maturation alone,” and “camp may spark and perhaps even accelerate growth in certain domains long after immersion in the camp environment is over.”
ANA Summer Programs
Our summer programs include Leadership, Recreational, and Academic options. Camps are co-ed and designed for students ages 10-17. Whether you’re looking to improve your child’s leadership skills, offer a unique adventure on the Pacific coast, or promote academic achievement throughout the summer, we have a camp to fit your needs. No matter which camp you choose, you can expect to see growth in your child in other areas. “Simply stated, positive youth development is the outcome of a combination of challenging opportunities and supportive relationships.” ANA Summer Programs offer this ideal environment for positive growth, and it provides opportunities for campers to develop peer relationships, decision-making skills, self-confidence, and leadership, among many other qualities. It is truly a unique opportunity that can lead to growth far beyond summertime. Reference: Thurber, Christopher A., Scanlin, Marge M., Scheuler, Leslie, and Henderson, Karla A. (2007). Youth Development Outcomes of the Camp Experience: Evidence for Multidimensional Growth. Journal of Youth Adolescence, 36(3). Retrieved from http://www.nccamps.org/pdf/Thurber–Youth_and_Adoles.pdf.