By Faith Thomson and Catherine Villeneuve, PSP Ottawa and The Guard –
Most of us keep fond childhood memories of summertime and camping with family and friends. When you combine the two and gain summer camp experiences, you learn to cherish those days more and more as you get older. June being Recreation Month, we thought we’d list 10 reasons why parents should register their children for summer camp and provide them with this opportunity of a lifetime.
- Interpersonal skills and communication: If there’s one thing summer camp teaches you, it’s how to make new friends and act with others. Skills acquired at summer camp include the building of social abilities which leads children to feeling more comfortable approaching and interacting with their peers.
- Play and imagination (cognitive development): Summer camp understands the nature of children. Summer camp shows children how to harness their chaotic energy in productive means by developing physical, cognisant or emotional skills. Summer camp gives equal opportunity to every child to complete a project and find their passion. It also allows for creative and logic skills to be developed through crafts and outdoor play.
- Independence and autonomy: Summer camp allows children to develop the capacity to become independent and develop self-confidence. This is seen through a multitude of diverse opportunities provided at camp with its structure, its team-building activities and its skill development. This one is especially true with overnight camps. Children have to co-exist amongst each other without the familiarity of their parents and siblings, and have to rely on themselves more than usual to resolve issues and handle situations. Which brings us to our next item on the list.
- Leadership and problem-solving: Through the structure of daily camp activity, children have access to daily opportunities for self-improvement and character building. Whether this may be to choose to allow a friend to go first, or to teach a familiar skill to a new participant. Furthermore, with these personal choices to be made, children will be given leadership opportunities during camp activities. Leadership opportunities are necessary in order to allow a child to build self-confidence in their abilities. By leading their peers, they will feel supported, and, when it comes to their peer’s turn to lead, they will support them as well.
- Social and emotional development: Summer camp produces children who build personal self-confidence in their abilities and have the opportunity to explore newfound skills, hobbies and relationship building. With overnight camp, children will be fully immersed in an environment without access to outside stress factors. Summer camp also enables a child to come into their own by giving them the necessary skills to build healthy coping mechanisms. Summer camp is always a safe environment – both emotionally and physically – where children can build trust in themselves and in others.
- Fine and gross motor skills (through crafts and sports respectively): Children learn how to take instructions and apply their own unique twist on the final product. They learn active listening in order to complete the project effectively. They will learn how to place their hands and fold certain material in order to achieve a result that they are happy with.
- Playing outdoors: The great outdoors have been and will always be one of the greatest source of entertainment and learning for children. Whether it be learning about the circle of life looking at bugs crawling through moss and tree trunks and about the difference between leafy and coniferous trees, developing their imagination observing clouds in the sky and finding shapes in them, building a fort using sticks and stones, or simply running around carefree, playing outside provides them with endless possibilities for fun. And it goes without saying that it is one of the healthiest forms of play out there. Just like physical activity…
- Physical activity: Camp gets you active. 24/7. It’s one of the best ways for kids to spend their summer as it blends fun and fitness. With outdoor activities that cause children to think on their feet and adapt, they will not even notice that they are working hard outdoors! This is why camp ensures that children bring water bottles with them everywhere. Camp keeps children hydrated and help them learn and maintain active lifestyles.
- Time away from screens: This one ties in with physical activity as kids don’t have access to electronics and therefore, are less likely to spend long periods of time sitting and watching a screen. With activities both indoors and outdoors, children will be away from social media and phone applications. This will enable children to become more attuned to their needs and less addicted to personal devices and online applications. Summer camp teaches children to become self-reliant and to enjoy activities other than video games and watching television.
- Making memories: Because in the ends that’s what summer camp, and life, are all about. Creating moments to later reminisce on the good old days of summer as an 8 year-old, dirt on your knees, a smile on your face and a heart full of memories.
Photo: Courtesy of CAFConnection
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