by Ann Woods

Camp is a great way for your child to spend their summer! There are countless benefits to sending your child to camp that will last them for the rest of their life. Ann Woods, Director of Roughing It Day Camp, shares how camp can positively contribute to children’s development, based on her over 40 years experience operating a camp. Here are the top 5 skills children can learn in a single summer:

#1 Gain Independence
If your child is 4 or 14, spending time away from parents and familiar friendship groups helps to develop a child’s independence and sense of who they are. A summer at camp is a great place for them gain independence as they try rowing a boat across a lake, cooking a new dish on the outdoor  grill, and catching their own fish on a rod they have baited themselves. All these challenges will develop independence in your child and fill them with a real sense of achievement.

#2 Learn to work as a team and make new lifelong friends
Camp brings with it a chance to meet new people and make new friends from outside their existing social group. Summer Camp is wonderful preparation for the years ahead and the community environment at camp offers children the opportunity to meet people from different schools and backgrounds and make new friends beyond the school gates. By spending each day with a group of children, enjoying activities, fun and laughter campers enjoy a shared experience and form real connections and bonds of friendship. Each summer we see children learn to express themselves, negotiate, cooperate, be part of team and leave the summer with many new friends.

#3 Learn to take safe risks and challenge themselves
Summer Camp is a chance to face a new challenges and campers are always encouraged to try something new and push the boundaries of what they are capable of. Camp activities such as riding, swimming, sports and wilderness skills provide campers with the opportunity to try something different, practice, to persevere, and ultimately experience a sense of achievement at the end of camp.

Camp is also a great place for children to take risks when challenging themselves. These risks can involve anything from rock climbing, kayaking on open water, or diving off a diving board. Children learn to be resilient in the face of new situations. The risks are safe because they are in a supportive, community environment at camp where they are both supervised and mentored by adult counselors. Courage, resilience, and perseverance are all wonderful skills to develop at camp that all help children grow in confidence.

#4 Surround your child with positive role models
Great camp counselors are engaging, wholesome, accomplished, responsible and caring. Camp counselors can be the best people for your child to spend their summer surrounded by – so make sure the camp program you choose only recruits the best! A great summer camp program will take great care to employ counselors and staff who are exemplary role models for your child to be mentored by. Children will emulate the behavior they see in their camp counselors so good team players, good listeners, caring and enthusiastic leaders are essential to any program.

#5 Enjoy a summer full of outside adventure away from screens and technology

Camp offers children the chance to ride a horse, canoe across a lake, fish on a dock – all real outdoor experiences free from technology! Most camper parents want their child to spend their summer days free from the computer screen, cell phone and social media and a traditional summer camp experience will deliver this! Summer camp also offers the perfect environment for children to immerse themselves in nature and actually experience the natural world without screens and technology surrounding them.

After 43 years of running a summer camp I have seen how camp can change and transform young lives. Many of our campers from recent years are now sending their children to camp to give them the traditional experience they enjoyed when they were campers. I believe camp is an excellent complement to the school year and is an investment in your child’s growth and future! Give your child the best summer of their life – A Summer of Camp!