Teachers and parents alike know that the time spent between the end of one school year, and the start of another can be the difference between success and struggle for kids in the fall. The question becomes how to make these months both playful and productive for kids – to keep their brains and bodies active while letting them have the summer fun we all remember so fondly.
Summer camps are one way to achieve this, and multiple studies have shown that children who attend day or sleep away camps during the summer months show growth in key areas such as an appreciation for physical activity, self-confidence, and emotional intelligence. And, not only do kids seem to grow in these areas, the growth is retained and built on throughout the rest of the year.
Summer camps offer an environment that introduces children to new people, new places, and new situations, independent of parental oversight, which fosters growth and exploration both of the world around them and of who they are as individuals. Through hands-on learning, physical activity, and time spent outdoors with their peers, kids get the benefit of a learning space free from pressure.
In fact, many children who struggle in more traditional environments really benefit from the more open, active learning situation that camp provides. And, it lets children find their own creative solutions to challenges. Summer camp is a great place for kids to really grow and see what they are capable of on their own, and when they work in a group.
Summer camp is also a place for fun. But, in addition, camp is a place where children get a chance to build their social skills by interacting with an entirely new group of people, and build their self-esteem and emotional intelligence away from their usual guardians. And, camp is a place where learning flows freely, and children can take risks and tackle problems without a fear of failure.
One of the secrets of the success of summer camp, is that it disguises exercise, learning, and skill building as play. There are even camps that promote STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) skills, such as the Summer Day Camps offered here at the Science Centre, that show kids the excitement, fun, and possibilities of these fields, which can often be difficult to engage kids in.
The things that kids learn at camp aren’t just temporary either. Self-confidence is one thing that grows and changes as we grow and change as individuals, and the confidence gained at camp can see a child going forward into the new school year with the ability to take on more both socially and academically, and know that they are capable of succeeding. This kind of confidence creates independent kids who know that they have value, and also know that they can fail, learn from it, and succeed next time.
Fun and play are the best things that summer camps have going for them in the eyes of kids. And for adults, sending a child to camp is giving them the opportunity to succeed in a new way - to grow, learn and develop as their own individual, while preparing them not only for the upcoming school year, but for their future as healthy adults.