After summer camp one year, a little boy was overheard saying “They say the happiest place on earth is Disneyland. They’re wrong, it’s summer camp.” Yet another child, when asked what they thought about summer camp, replied, “I went to summer camp expecting to make friends, but ended up with family.”
What is so magical about summer camp programs? Are they just a glorified daycare or are they so much more? Let’s take a closer look.
What Is Summer Camp?
Summer camps usually run from the month of June until August. Camps vary from location to location, and also from age to age. Some camps have sleepover programs, while some run during the day only.
No matter where the camp occurs, the age it caters to, or the program that is run on the camp, all camps have one thing in common – unlike school, where the main focus is academic, camps help children grow to their full potential, accept each other with their differences, and foster a sense of family and community.
Why Are Summer Camp Programs So Important?
Although a lot more relaxed and not as ridged as the school academic program, the camp program is still structured and carefully monitored. Here are some areas that camps focus on:
They Teach Children To Be Independent
Without parents to make decisions for them, children are encouraged to problem solve, make decisions and become self-reliant. Children are encouraged to explore new interests and learn to trust their “inner voice” when making decisions.
Children Get Time To Play
The camp is structured but a lot more relaxed than school, leaving more time for spontaneous play. During free play, children learn to use their imagination, interact with others around them, resolve conflicts and practice leadership skills, all the while accepting each other unconditionally. The focus at camp is inclusion, not exclusion, so children learn to get along despite any racial or cultural differences.
Activities Focus On Teamwork
A lot of the activities at camp require teamwork, teaching children an important, lifelong skill. By understanding that teamwork is the most efficient way to get the job done, children learn to communicate by expressing their opinion and listening to their peers even if they look or think differently to themselves. Children get to practice their leadership skills and to work with a leader, even if their leader is their own age. Teamwork, when learned at a young age, is vital for emotional intelligence and future employment opportunities.
Children Learn To Persevere
At camp, children have the freedom to come out of their comfort zone and to practice and overcome their challenges. They are given the opportunity to improve their skills and learn new skills. There is no failing grade and all achievements are celebrated, so the result is that children become stronger, more resilient, and learn to believe in themselves.
Children Learn To Connect With Nature
They are taught that life can be fuller and more pleasurable when all their senses are engaged. Different outdoor activities and excursions encourage them to touch, hear, see, smell and taste things around them. Spending time in nature has been shown to be vital for good physical, emotional and mental health.
Camp Provides Fun, Screen-Free Activities
Children are taught the joy of life beyond the screen. Various activities involving sport, dance, art and crafting and even strength training, allow children to interact socially and forget about their mobile devices and television. The result is that children sleep better, eat healthier foods and grow emotionally.
The United States Department Of Health and Human Services states that only one in three children do a physical activity every day. Teaching a child the importance of physical activity when they are young, is a habit they will carry to adulthood.
What Do Experts Say About Summer Camp
There have been numerous studies done around the importance of summer camps, here is what some of the experts have to say:
Michael Brandwein – Noted speaker and consultant to camp profession
“What makes camp a special community is its focus on celebrating effort.”
Bob Ditter – Licensed Clinical Social Worker specializing in child and adolescent treatment
“It is in the crucible of this community that children gain self-esteem with humility, overcome their inflated sense of self and develop a lifelong sense of grace and wonder.”
Bruce Muchnick – Licensed Psychologist working extensively with day and resident camps
“The camps seek to satisfy the children’s basic need for connectedness, affiliation, belonging, acceptance and safety.”
The Parkland Children’s Academy Program
At Parkland Children’s Academy, we believe that no child should say that summer was boring. We also believe that we can spare working parents the expense of a babysitter while imparting life long skills to their children. Here is a taste of what our summer camp program provides:
Sport and Games
We encourage sport and games that develop motor skills while challenging your child’s body and mind. We provide an opportunity for individual sport like gymnastics, and team sports like soccer, kickball, and baseball.
We have a lot of safe, fun, games that allow the little ones to cool off while having fun. Water-play usually takes place on a Friday and varies from bounce house water slides, to fire trucks and other creative water play. Water-play is always carefully monitored and safety is a priority.
Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays are open to the public and we take the children on exciting field trips to places like bowling alleys, water parks, movie theaters, and IMAX exhibits.
We have a weekly theme where children get to show off, and every child becomes a winner. Themes include, among others, American Idols and talent contests.
We have also have bouncy houses, music and movement, and various arts and crafts. If you want your child exposed to different interests and hobbies, contact Parkland Children’s Academy.