Looking to get your children out of the house this summer? Maybe they’re glue to their cell phones or just plain bored and need some excitement. Consider sending them away to camp for a week. They will not only have a chance to experience the great outdoors, but will also pick up important social skills along the way. Summer camp may even have some benefits for you as a parent. Here are five great reasons to send your kids to camp.
Get in Touch with the Nature
In our fast paced and tech driven world, kids need an outlet where they can step away and slow down. Living in a semi-rural area with plenty of parks and open spaces, I notice how little time the younger generation spends outdoors. There are a myriad of reasons kids don’t get enough time outside, and it’s not just electronics. Lack of access to parks, unsafe areas, spending time in daycare, or not having adults who instill a sense of outdoor enjoyment. Attending a summer camp can remedy this situation.
At camp kids will find that their days are full of outdoor activities and, most likely, no access to electronics. It’s not just nostalgia, there is a real need for humans to bond with nature for both physical and mental health. Kids who aren’t used to this type of experience often embrace it as an exciting new adventure. Camp is an amazing combination of outdoor play and also the chance to learn about the natural world.
Practice Travel Skills
Campers, especially first timers, stand to learn some key travel skills. Working through homesickness in the company of peers will help create more confidence for solo travel when older. Learning to read maps while on hikes will lead to expert navigation on open roads or in a big city. Budgeting time for activities and keeping to a schedule will help with travel planning and get kids more involved in future family trips.
Let’s not forget the all important skill of packing for a vacation. No matter if you’re backpacking in a National Park or jetting off for a quick weekend, knowing how to effectively pack is a necessity. Deciding what clothing and supplies are needed and fitting them into the proper size luggage can be a challenge for kids who are not used to traveling. During their first outing at camp they will quickly figure out what they are missing and what they didn’t need to bring. Luggage for next summer’s camp will be, hopefully, much more organized.
Develop Social and Teamwork Skills
Summer camp is often a great opportunity for kids to practice important social skills. My daughter recently attended her second Girl Scout camp and I enjoyed hearing my often shy and anxious girl talk about the friends she made and new activities she tried. Kids who are overwhelmed or don’t fit in well at school may break out of their shell with the smaller social groups at camp. This may not work for every child, but camp leaders are typically motivational and encourage participation and teamwork.
Team building activities are often an integral part of camp. Anything from canoeing, sports, or clean up duty can foster this important social skill. Being comfortable as part of a group, or even as a leader, has many benefits. Making decisions and knowing how to compromise with others seems to be a skill not enough people have in daily life.
Experience Unique Opportunities
Camps offer many unique activities that kids may not have access to at home. Canoeing, hiking, archery, campfire cooking, and more. Having a chance to experience these things may lead to a new hobby or plans for a future vacation. My daughter was able to spend her week at camp learning about horseback riding and caring for the horses. It is something she’ll always remember and also opens the opportunity for her to participate in such activities on vacations or get involved in riding when she’s older. Encourage your kids to try something new at camp; make it a challenge to push themselves further.
Give Parents a Break
Yes, there’s even a camp benefit for parents. If you’re like me, parenting is a 24/7 job with very few moments of down time. Knowing that your kids are safe and having fun at camp is the perfect time to relax, get projects done, or even plan your own vacation. Having time to yourself, or as a couple, without the immediate responsibilities as parents is essential. Don’t miss this opportunity to plan something without taking into consideration nap times or whether a restaurant has chicken strips. Get out an enjoy some downtime.
Camps offer so many benefits for kids that attending one should become a summer tradition. Spending time away from home with their peers will help kids develop important social skills as well as enjoying the outdoors. If they’re lucky, your children will make some new friends and discover new activities they enjoy. Going to camp may also create the desire to get involved in an organization, such as Girl/Boy Scouts or 4H Club where kids can get more involved in their community and build friendships.