It is that time of the year again: making plans for the summer months that are just around the corner. Family vacations take up one, maybe two, weeks of the long break from school, but what happens for the other two months? Summer camps.
Summer camps have been a staple in American childhood development for decades, and statistics show that kids can develop emotionally, intellectually, socially, and physically from participation. Enrolling children in pre-planned activities get kids away from the television and off the couch. Camps stimulate their minds and provides structure to an otherwise uneventful time of year.
Former U.S. Secretary Colin Powell once said that camp “gets them away from a neighborhood or situation that may exist in their neighborhoods that isn't healthy…It teaches them how to get along with other people – both other young people as well as adults. To give our children a safe place to learn and grow – camp does that." Camp satisfies needs of self-expression, physical activity, and a feeling of belonging, whereas many schools fail to foster the combination of these three characteristics.
When looking at different camps, consider a multitude of factors. What are my child’s likes and interests? Do not send a child to a camp where he/she is likely to lose interest in the activities provided. Consider camp size and organization. Does your child play well with others? Many parents are nervous to put their children in a camp with a large number of campers. However, also consider that he/she may be more likely to find/make friends in a camp of 60 kids than a camp with 15 to 20.
Finally, camp provides children the chance to be independent and on their own in a new, unfamiliar place while under tight adult supervision. Staff members and camp counselors keep students engaged but also allow them to make choices on their own regarding activities in which they wish to participate. So, do some research, find out what camps are offered in your area, and enroll your child in a quality program that builds character and self-reliance and develops creativity and independence. You’ll leave them with a lifetime of memories…and keep them away from the television for days at a time.