If you are considering summer camp for your child, you may be wondering if it is the right fit for your child’s personality. Perhaps your child has never spent much time away from you besides going to school, or maybe your child has special interests, and you are worried they will feel out of place at camp.
Although each child is a unique individual, summer camp can be beneficial for all kids. No matter what your child’s interests are, camp helps children develop important social, emotional and cognitive skills. Best of all, children create memories that last a lifetime at camp.
The YMCA is a national leader in providing enriching summer camp experiences. Locally, the YMCA of Greater Cleveland has been offering summer camps for decades. Our experience with day, arts and sports camps provides insights into why a camp this summer may be ideal for your child. Here are some of the benefits camp offers young people.
Develops Lifelong Skills
During summer camp, children participate in a variety of group activities. For example, while participating in a sport like volleyball or bowling, a child learns how to work on a team, communicate with other children and solve problems on their own.
Of course, children learn social skills in school as well. However, camp brings children together in an environment that encourages a greater sense of community and appreciation for individual differences, whereas school focuses mainly on academic achievement.
At camp, a child experiences time away from a parent. This independent time helps children develop a sense of identity. Kids learn to become more self-reliant as they explore their interests and discover their strengths and weaknesses. They learn to trust their inner voice instead of depending on a parent or teacher to tell them what to do.
No matter what your child’s interests are, whether it be sports or arts and crafts, a camp program will engage them in activities that require teamwork. Knowing how to work in a team is a useful skill for life. Teamwork matters because it helps develop communication skills, emotional intelligence and leadership skills.
Provides Fun Screen-Free Activities
Kids and adults are spending too much time in front of a screen. In total, children spend more than seven and a half hours a day in front of a screen. Too much media time reduces time spent sleeping and reading and may have a negative impact on performance in school.
Encourages a Connection with Nature
When a child is outdoors, they get to see, touch, hear, smell and sometimes even taste nature. Most importantly, outdoor time encourages movement, which is vital for physical, mental and emotional health. Outside, children are free to run, skip, jump, climb, laugh and breathe the fresh air.
Self-esteem is important for children and adults because we make decisions in life based on how we see ourselves. We choose our careers, relationships and make other important decisions heavily influenced by our self-esteem. Children learn self-esteem through taking action and earning results, and by contributing to their community. They learn to value themselves as a result of hard work and achievement.
Kids get to meet other children with similar interests in a relaxed setting at camp. They also get to meet new friends with different backgrounds. Children bond over their camp experience, the challenges they face together and the fun they have free of pressure and media distraction to build genuine friendships that last.
Teaches Kids to Respect Differences
In summer camp, children will learn to work with other children to accomplish common goals. They will learn to accept not everyone has the same perspective or beliefs they do. They will also learn that to accomplish a goal with others, or to live and play in harmony, they must respect and work with differences.
Keeps Kids Intellectually Engaged
Over the summer, kids might become sluggish without the intellectual stimulation of school, but camp provides mental stimulation in fun ways children can enjoy. Kids get the chance to participate in activities that interest them, and some programs include time for reading.
Finally, summer camp provides a lifetime of memories. It is worth your consideration. To learn more about the YMCA of Greater Cleveland summer camp offerings, visit https://www.clevelandymca.org/day-camp-cleveland-ymca.
Natisha Bowling is the Vice President for Youth Development at the YMCA of Greater Cleveland