Benifits of Camp
Camp And Youth Development Outcomes
Parents want the best opportunities for their children. They want them to have whatever it takes to be happy and successful - good health, ability to get along with others, thinking and problem-solving skills, a good self-concept. Children need resiliency skills: self-esteem, life skills, self-reliance, and pro-social behaviors. The camp experience offers a nurturing environment away from the distractions and, in some cases, the hostile environment of the city.
Peter Scales, Ph.D., is a senior fellow with the Search Institute in Minneapolis. A noted educator, author, and psychologist, Dr. Scales says, "Camp is one of the few institutions where young people can experience and satisfy their need for physical activity, creative expression and true participation in a community environment. Most schools don't satisfy all these needs."
In recent years camps have put a greater emphasis on what leaders in the child development field have been saying about the needs of children today. Camp activities and group living in a natural environment are the tools used to create camp communities that provide for successful, healthy development and a place where having fun is a daily criterion. In such a structured environment, children interact with positive role models who have time to listen, talk, relax, and reflect. They learn to work together, make choices, take responsibility, develop creative skills, build independence and self-reliance, and gain confidence. All are necessary steps on a child's path to a healthy, productive life.
Advice from the Experts
The camp experience is recognized by child development professionals as valuable in helping children mature socially, emotionally, intellectually, morally, and physically. "The building blocks of self-esteem are belonging, learning, and contributing. Camps offer unique opportunities for children to succeed in these three vital areas and even beyond home and school."Michael Popkin, Ph.D., family therapist and founder of Active Parenting
"The biggest plus of camp is that camps help young people discover and explore their talents, interests, and values. Most schools don't satisfy all these needs. Kids who have had these kinds of (camp) experiences end up being healthier and have less problems which concern us all." Peter Scales, Ph.D., noted author/educator, and Senior Fellow, The Search Institute
"At camp, children learn to problem-solve, make social adjustments to new and different people, learn responsibility, and gain new skills to increase their self-esteem."
Child Development Experts Endorse Concept of Camp as 'Community' for Children
Noted experts in child development have expressed their thoughts on summer camp as a valuable resource for giving children the value of belonging to a community of their own. This position is being forwarded by the American Camp Association, which believes that the critically important sense of community for children is rooted in enabling and empowering children to be belonging, cooperating, contributing, and caring citizens.
Bruce Muchnick, a licensed psychologist who works extensively with day and resident camps, said, "Each summer at camp a unique setting is created, a community is constructed that allows participants to get in touch with a sense of life that is larger than one's self. The camp community seeks to satisfy children's basic need for connectedness, affiliation, belonging, acceptance, safety, and feelings of acceptance and appreciation."
Bob Ditter, licensed clinical social worker specializing in child and adolescent treatment, added, "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."
Michael Brandwein, noted speaker and consultant to the camp profession, continued, "What makes camp a special community is its focus on celebrating effort. In this less pressured atmosphere, children learn more readily what positive things to say and do when they make mistakes and face challenges. Brandwein also said, "The traditions and customs of each different camp are like a secret code that allows those who know it to feel embraced by something unique and special."
He continued, "Campers are urged to include, not exclude, others. They are praised for choosing new partners and not always the same ones. They are encouraged to respect the differences between people. In an increasingly sarcastic, put-down-oriented world, camps aim to be an oasis of personal safety where demeaning comments and disrespectful behavior are not tolerated, and children are taught responsible and positive ways to resolve conflicts."
How Parents View The Camp Experience
Why Is It Important To Send My Child To Camp?
Youth development experts agree that children need a variety of experiences in their lives to help them grow into healthy adolescents and adults. For children to develop positive behaviors, their experiences must produce:
· A sense of industry and competency
Do they develop skills? Do they learn to work for what is important? Are they successful at what they do?
· A feeling of connectedness to others and to society
Do they feel like they "fit"? Do they see a role they can play in their group, family, or community? Do they have friends?
· A belief in their ability to make decisions
Do they learn to make good choices? Do they see the results of their decisions?
· A stable identity
Are they learning what their skills are? Are they receiving positive feedback about themselves?
To help us understand what camp accomplishes, approximately 1,000 parents completed a survey after their children returned home from camp in the summer of 2000. On a scale of 1-5 (with 1 = strongly disagree and 5 = strongly agree), parents rated the top five outcomes of camp for their child as follows: (on a 5 point scale)
My child felt successful at camp (Average score: 4.63)
My child made new friends (Average score: 4.60)
My child gained new skills (Average score: 4.39)
Camp encouraged my child to get along better with others (Average score: 4.35)
Camp helped my child have a better idea of what she or he is good at (Average Score: 4.20)
Camp can provide an excellent experience for your child to learn and develop. According to the Search Institute, young people have seven developmental needs:
Competence and Achievement
Positive Social Interactions
Structure and Clear Limits
The camp experience is uniquely positioned to provide all of these developmental needs for children. Consider camp as the perfect partner to family, school, and community youth activities in helping your child learn independence, decision-making, social and emotional skills, character building and values - all in an atmosphere of creativity and enrichment under the supervision of positive adult role models.
In today's pressure-oriented society, camp provides a non-threatening environment for America's youth to be active, to develop competence in life skills, to learn about and enhance their own abilities and to benefit from meaningful participation in a community designed just for them.
Yes, camp is for everyone! Don't let your child grow up without it!
Campers Speak: What is Camp All About?
During the summer of 2000, campers in approximately 20 different ACA-accredited camps were asked to respond to a questionnaire to track the impact of the camp experience. The following are the questions and answers they provided:
Can you think of things you learned and did at camp last summer that helped you in school this year?
"I was more confident, wanted to know everything, was excited to be in school and good grades in 7th grade." (12-year-old female)
"My experience helped me look at challenging situations differently and instead of giving up, finding a way around them." (14-year-old female)
"Last summer I learned a lot about how to control my anger." (13-year-old female)
"I learned better sportsmanship and listening skills that helped me bring up my grades in behavior." (11-year-old male)
"I learned how to be on my own without someone with me all the time." (12-year-old male)
"I learned to have more patience and to appreciate the things I have."(10-year-old female)
"I feel that I am better at interacting with friends and family. The people skills learned at camp affected me dramatically when I went home." (15-year-old male)
"Leadership, organization, water-skiing, make my bed, keep my stuff clean, to keep in touch with my friends, respect, how to handle pressure." (13-year-old female)
Do you feel different about yourself when you are at camp?
"I feel different because I feel like I am accomplishing something by being here." (13-year-old female)
"At school there are defined groups of people, but at camp, everyone feels wanted." (15-year-old female)
"Yes, because I'm with people my age and people who respect everyone." (11-year-old male)
"At camp I think that I can do more and be proud of myself." (13-year-old female)
"At camp I have a personality that is different from home. I'm less cautious to do fun or exciting things. I don't feel as alone as I sometimes do at home." (14-year-old male)
"When I'm at camp I feel that I can be more open with others and myself. I tell people things at camp I wouldn't speak of back home. I feel so much more in tune with myself here and I can discuss issues so much more openly." (15-year-old male)
"I don't have to be fake to anyone. Everyone here accepts me as I am, and I'm not judged or criticized." (15-year-old female)
If explaining camp to friends, what would you say you learn here?
"I learned to listen to what other people say." (10-year-old male)
"I learned a lot of team work skills." (13-year-old female)
"You learn how to relate to people on a level deeper than that of school or everyday life because you live together." (14-year-old female)
"I learn a lot about respect and my real values in life, what they really should be." (14-year-old female)
"Values like how to be responsible and respectful."(13-year-old female)
"You learn mostly how to interact with different kinds of people and are open to different ideas. You learn how to cooperate well with others who share and don't share the same opinions as you." (15-year-old female)
"I learned to have fun, be a leader, discipline, and most of all - respect." (12-year-old male)
"You learn how to make new friends, learn different sports, and learn that camp can be a very good part of summer! " (9-year-old female)
Campers Speak: What Did I Learn at Camp?
We asked campers what they learned at camp and received interesting answers, which may be used to enhance stories about the camp experience.
"I learned mostly about how to get along with my peers, but also I learned to take on more responsibilities like managing a schedule and helping to take care of younger campers." (14-year-old male, Netimus)
"One main thing I learned last year was to be more open to others. That especially helped me into my first year of high school. It helped me get to know more people and to not judge them by their physical appearance, but rather the person they really are." (15-year-old female, Lake Hastings YMCA)
"My experience helped me look at challenging situations differently and instead of giving up, finding a way around them." (14-year-old female, Netimus)
"At school there are defined groups of people, but at camp, everyone feels wanted." (15-year-old female, Campus Kids)
"I was more confident, wanted to know everything, was excited to be in school, and got good grades in the 7th grade." (12-year-old female, Morry's Camp)
"Last summer, I learned a lot about how to control my anger." (13-year-old female, Edwards)
"I've learned to have more patience and to appreciate the things I have." (10-year-old female, Camp Dean)
"Last year here at E-Club I read many books, and it helped me read more at home because before I did not really like to read." (11-year-old female, Morry's Camp)
"I learned to clean my room and to get along with others." (10-year-old male, Morry's Camp)
"I feel that I am better at interacting with friends and family. The people skills learned at camp affected me dramatically when I went home." (15-year-old male, Lake Hastings YMCA)
"When I am at camp I am totally at ease because of the constant fun, activities, and the emphasis on self-discovery. I feel totally comfortable." (14-year-old female, Netimus)
"I would tell my friends that you learn how to relate to people on a level deeper than that of school or everyday life - because you live together you really get to know each other." (14-year-old female, Netimus)
"You learn mostly how to interact with different kinds of people and are open to different ideas. You learn how to cooperate well with others who share and don't share the same opinions as you." (15-year-old female, Lake Hastings YMCA)