Camp experience is not just about having fun, making friends and creating summertime adventures, but rather camp has to do with creating a healthy lifestyle for children and their development. While camps offer youth a variety of exciting opportunities, from horseback riding and rock climbing to sailing, acting, and even circus arts, it is important to note that it’s not the activities themselves that benefit the campers. It’s about the life skills they will gain through such activities that are ultimately essential to a child’s development. Self-confidence built from staying on a horse the first time they jump over a standard, courage gained from flying through the trees on a zip line, social skills developed by making new friends outside their local school or neighborhood – these are skills and experiences that will help them ultimately develop into mature, responsible, and respectful adults.

But there is a even more pressing need for children in our society to participate in summer camp, and that is physical health.  Peg Smith, CEO of the American Camp Association (www.acacamps.org), states this case well.

“For generations, children have gone outside to ride their bikes or play with their neighbors. Kids have played tag, climbed trees, and run all over our neighborhoods. Today, children are more likely to play a video game on any given day than to ride a bike. Recent research shows that the amount of time U.S. children spend outside has declined by 50 percent in the last two decades alone (National Wildlife Federation 2008). With that kind of evidence, we should not be surprised that more than 9 million children between the ages of six to nineteen are overweight, a number that has tripled since 1980 (Educational Leadership 2005). At the same time, schools have been reducing programs in the arts and physical education. Energy and vigor are essential to good health. The camp experience is a human powered environment designed to promote well-being and positive lifelong wellness habits. Camp is movement, activity, and using one’s body to the best of its ability.”

Let’s help our children grow healthy – send them to camp!

By Camp Rocks, Girl Scouts of Northern California.  Girls Scouts of Northern California offers a variety of day and resident camps featuring quality, affordable summer adventures for girls and families. Many of our camps have been operating for over 50 years.  And you don’t have to be a Girl Scout to register! Visit www.camprocks.org or contact happycamper@girlscoutsnorcal.org or 1-888-287-4170, ext. 248 for more info.