In the United States, millions of children flock to summer camps across the country. Perhaps you want your teen or child to have a new adventure, work on social skills, develop specific interests in leadership, aviation, computer science, or even learn English. Learn about the benefits as well as get some answers to common questions.
Summer Camp Research
Beyond the reasons cited above, it is important to note that one of the key outcomes of attending summer camp centers around personal growth and development. Numerous studies have shown that summer camps promote positive development during camp and that the benefits extend beyond summer and into the school year.
Over many decades, researchers have collected data from accredited camps. To be an accredited camp with the American Camp Association (ACA), a camp must meet over 300 health, safety, management, and program standards. This achievement is no easy feat!
However, some top summer camps are located on private boarding or day school campuses. In this case, they may be accredited under their respective school’s rigorous accreditation process. For example, Army & Navy Academy, a boarding school for boys, grade 7-12, located in California, offers accredited leadership camps under the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).
In various studies, campers and their parents both reported growth from when they started a camp to the day it ended. Even better, findings by Christoper Thurber and other researchers indicated that camp participants maintained personal growth six months after camp had ended. Campers’ personal growth was seen in four major areas:
- Peer Relationships
- Social Comfort
Researchers concluded that the positive development that occurred during camp was due to the experience of being at the day or residential 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.”
10 Benefits of Summer Camp
Beyond giving your child or teen a unique recreational activity or an academic edge, research indicates that attending a summer camp promotes healthy youth development in several areas, including:
- Leadership – No camp is complete unless a camper walks away with new leadership and teamwork skills. Some camps even specialize in this area and offer middle and high school leadership camps.
- Positive identity – Finding your identity in adolescence is often challenging. It is a time of change as young people seek out a social circle, find their interests, and determine their values.
- Social skills – Preteens and teens need to “find their people” and find constructive ways to connect. Summer camps get kids off their cell phones, encourage talking, work together on projects, and do activities together.
- Physical fitness – Fitness is an integral part of being at summer camp. Camps for children and teens typically provide a wide range of indoor and outdoor activities, including swimming, hiking, tennis, volleyball, basketball, and some camps even offer surfing! Fresh air, sunshine, and physical activity are integral to mental and physical well-being.
- Mental fitness – The best summer camps offer a balance of new opportunities and challenges for campers. For success, while living away from home, campers must use good judgment and consider the repercussions of their decisions, behaviors, and choices of friendship circles. Like the camp experience, mental fitness and positive habits are part of their approach and methodologies at some boarding schools.
- Strong values – Camps often pride themselves on their strong values and how they instill values during camp. Don’t be surprised if your child or teenager comes home with a stronger moral compass. There is no tolerance for behaviors like lying, cheating, stealing, bullying, or drug and alcohol use. are not tolerated. In particular, if you choose a military school camp, traditional values are incorporated into daily life.
- Self-Esteem – Confidence and a higher level of esteem are big takeaways from camp experiences. Kids learn to assert themselves, communicate, work in teams, and self-advocate.
- Compassion – Meeting people from other cities, states, and even countries can be part of the fabric and diverse interactions at summer camp. This experience helps campers develop empathy, compassion, and respect for others.
- Service – At some camps, social service is essential. Campers engage in various community service projects. The opportunity to support the local community helps campers develop a genuine appreciation and sense of gratitude.
- Connection to nature – Campers enjoy disconnecting from electronic devices and connecting with friends. This disconnection is vital to connecting with the natural world, beauty, and finding ways to lower stress and anxiety.
Summer Camps Commonly Asked Questions
- Are children safe at camp? When children and teens are at camp, they receive mentorship, guidance, support, and care. When selecting a camp, check out how long the camp has been in business, the camp’s location (school or camp facility), health center, dining hall, safety protocols, and accreditation.
- How are camp professionals trained? Staff training methods and processes depend on the camp, which is why a summer camp on a boarding school campus has some real advantages. Summer staff at boarding schools are typically hired from the school’s internal community. They are often more dedicated to the summer program’s success than temporary summer employees.
- What kinds of skills will my child develop at camp? It is reasonable to expect personal development in the following, depending on the type of camp you choose: accountability, responsibility, decision-making, communications, teamwork, leadership, life habits, and social skills.
- Are there specialized camps to accelerate learning? Absolutely! Summer is a great time to get your child to learn new things and pursue specific interests.. Private school camps often employ faculty and staff to teach special programs and electives, such as; aviation, computer science, ESOL, and more.
- Are there camps on school and university campuses? Yes, you can find private schools, boarding schools, and university camps all over the U.S. Most boarding schools even offer classes or courses. Campers attending a boarding school camp reside on campus in the dorms and have full access to all of their amenities.
- Where are the best camps located? It depends on the kind of experience you are seeking. Consult with your child to determine the best location (near beach, harbors, lakes, forests, mountains, etc.). Also, think about transportation and access to airports.
- How much do camps cost? Costs range widely depending on whether it is a day or residential camp. Check summer camp directories, like Kidscamps.com to get started. First, find the camps that interest you and check their websites for actual costs. Of course, residential camps are more expensive as they cover food, housing, trips, and more.
- How do I find out if the camp is accredited? Check for accreditation on camp or school websites or connect directly to the camp website. The admission or summer offices will be able to inform you.
- How do I find a summer camp near me? A simple Google search should bring up camps near your city, and there are many directories out there. First, think about your preferences so that you can apply filters: specialized camp (e.g., leadership, aviation, computer science, ESOL), electives of interest, coed or single-gender (all boys or all girls), location (e.g., near the beach), and facilities (e.g., camp, school, or university).
- Should we go on a tour before enrolling? If you live close by or visit the area, taking a tour is a great way to proceed. . Private day and boarding schools, in particular, offer tours of their campus to prospective summer families.
In conclusion, hopefully, you are now convinced that a summer camp for your child or teen is a wise idea. In addition, the commonly asked questions addressed some key topics, but don’t hesitate to contact camps to explore more. Now, the fun begins in finding the right summer camp.