Summer camp offers kids an opportunity to make new friends and experience time away from home while trying new adventures in traditional activities, academics and sports. There are plenty of reasons why kids should attend camp, but instead of seeking out the typical reasons, we found some hidden benefits that every parent should know.
1. Farm Life
Many camps around Northeast Ohio offer animal encounters, however, this type of experience might be new for the camper and their parents. Working with or learning about different types of farm animals — horses, sheep and more — provides an understanding about care.
“These particular programs also teach children where the food they eat comes from, as well as the cycle of life,” says Courtney Guzy, executive director at Hiram House Camp in Chagrin Falls, which offers a Farmstead program. “Through caring for farm animals, kids learn that in life others often come before self. The Farmstead program offers opportunities for kids to learn about science, introducing them to botany, agriculture and horticulture. A hidden benefit to parents is that it will help your child care for that new family pet.”
2. In-Depth Creatives
For kids, summer is about exploring their interests and getting creative. Camp offers an opportunity to dig a little deeper. While many schools around the U.S. are cutting down on arts and music programs, summer camp is closing the gap — and it’s not just typical arts classes. Many offer in-depth ways for campers to express themselves, such as playwriting, comics, card-making and more.
3. Connect with Different Age Levels
Whether you have an only child or your child has younger siblings, it’s likely that at camp, they will be mentored by teen and college-age counselors. The fact that campers are able to interact with these ages can have a positive impact.
According to an article titled “Impacts of a Southern Indiana Summer Camp: Adult Reflections on Childhood Experiences,” which appeared in the Journal of Youth Development, “The importance of the camper-counselor relationship may be the key to determining why youth see many of the benefits that they do from camp experiences. (They concluded from the respondents and research that) counselors were supportive and inclusive, thereby providing campers with a sense that they belonged at camp.”
4. Community Service
The value of helping others often is spoken about in many circles of the community. However, kids — and parents — might not know how to begin and what opportunities are available. Many camps provide options for kids to “roll up their sleeves” and get involved in projects that help not only people, but also the environment.
“I believe summer camp is about much more than simply having fun,” says Joe Mendes, owner and camp director at Camp Roosevelt-Firebird in Bowerston. “Our campers have the opportunity to work as a part of a team to accomplish something for a greater good. This summer, we are exploring several projects: revitalizing and landscaping a township cemetery, and doing volunteer work at an Appalachian Cultural Center, among others.
“I want our campers to know that life is not just about them, not just about attaining their own goals,” he continues. “By working on a community project, our kids can attain an inner satisfaction one gets from doing good works. They can learn about working hard, doing a job well and doing for others.”
5. Extreme Adventures
Traditional camp activities abound in many camp environments. However, for teens who are a little more adventurous, there are camps in the region and beyond that provide “out of the box” hands-on experiences, from sports to nature outings.
One example is Geauga Park District, which provides an X-treme Day camp that offers grades 8-10 ravine exploration, survival skills, kayaking and more.
“These adventures provide our youth an opportunity to dive in and experience the wilds of our beautiful county,” says John Kolar, chief naturalist at the Geauga Park District.
Kolar, along with Dottie Drockton, a camp coordinator, says the benefits of these outdoor education experiences include breaking social media habits, expands campers comfort zone in nature and outdoors, challenges stimulate confidence, self-esteem and more.
6. History Lessons
When summer break begins, learning doesn’t stop — and that includes history lessons. Summer camps provide these learning opportunities for kids, sometimes in the form of an activity, or simply as part of sharing knowledge about the camp’s history.
“Our camp is rooted in history, justice and hard work and it starts with our name — Camp Roosevelt Firebird,” Mendes says. “‘Roosevelt’ came from Teddy Roosevelt, as the camp was originally intended to prepare young boys for World War I. Later on, the second President Roosevelt got into the act.”
He adds that he likes to draw on history and teach campers about its importance and about how to respect it.
The Ohio Station Outlets Train Camp, in Lodi, provides hands-on experience to help kids learn about the impact of Ohio’s railroads locally and nationally, says Trinity D’Andrea Elmiger, general manager and marketing director.
“It is important for kids to learn this history so that they understand the importance of local businesses and the impact it has on the growth of the local area and economy,” she says.