Undeniably, cooperation is one of the most important skills anyone can learn. For their entire life, your child will have to learn how to get along with others and work with them—even if they have clashing personalities or differences of opinion. There are a lot of settings where children can learn teamwork, including school or at home, but summer camp takes teamwork to an entirely new level.
There’s not a lot of solitude at camp. Children share bunks, eat at big tables, and participate in activities with other kids. But something that they’ll quickly learn is that they can have more fun when they learn to work together as a team. Maybe they’ll play soccer and need to come up with a strategy that will outsmart the other team and win them the game. Maybe they’ll row a boat together and they need to all move at the same time so they can move in the right direction. Or maybe they’ll need to get creative in order to beat the other cabins at all-camp competitions.
When they’re young, children don’t always have a lot of say in their lives. They often have to follow the requests of their parents and teachers. Following the rules is a good thing, but so is learning how to be independent—and even more importantly, how to lead well.
One of the most important summer camp skills is self-leadership. For some campers, it will be their first time away from home. They will be responsible for basics like keeping track of their clothing, waking up on time, and following their schedule. They’ll also be responsible for their communication, their behavior with others, and for controlling their emotions if they feel homesick, sad, or angry.
Then, there’s the opportunity to lead others. In every camp activity at Camp Cody, we give every child the opportunity to lead their peers. Some campers may shy away from the opportunity at first. But others who take the chance may find that they have a real talent for leadership at summer camp—even if they never thought of themselves as leaders before. It’s always incredible to watch shy, unsure campers become the leaders of their cabins, sports teams, and friend groups.
We wish we could say that no camper will ever have a hard moment while they’re away for the summer. But every new place, every new transition, will have its challenges. Kids learn at summer camp what to do when these tough times happen, and how to handle them well.
The unique aspect of facing challenges at camp is that Mom or Dad aren’t around to fix everything. Children have to learn how to manage themselves—or how to ask the right people for help. It’s so encouraging to watch a reclusive camper ask for the help of their caring counselors when they scrape their knee. Or maybe they fell off of their paddle board and instead of crying, they pick themselves up and climb back on by themselves. All of these are examples of resilience.
Sportsmanship doesn’t only apply to sports. It’s the art of learning how to play fair, to follow the rules, to stand up for what’s right, and how to be a good sport even in the face of losing. It’s the idea of being fair and generous toward others.
For example, a child who whines and complains when their team gets a penalty in soccer or loses a game doesn’t have much sportsmanship. Neither does the child who tries to cheat to win. While it’s important to work through negative feelings, our counselors at Camp Cody try to steer the children towards the positive. It’s okay to lose. It’s okay to try your best. They learn to congratulate the other team and move on when setbacks happen.
The same is true for any activity. Maybe it means hanging back when a peer is falling behind while horseback riding. Maybe it means letting the quiet kid sit with them at lunch. Sportsmanship will benefit your child in school, in their career, and in the friendships they make, no matter where their life takes them.
Similar to leadership, decision-making is another essential summer camp skill. A part of being independent and responsible is making good decisions. Camps usually have structure so the child isn’t responsible for everything like they will be in adulthood. But camps do provide more options than their life back home probably does.
At camp, children should feel safe to learn and make mistakes as they learn this skill. Many poor decisions will probably come before good ones. They rely on their staff and friends to understand situations and learn about natural consequences in a safe environment. This can be intimidating for any child. But for those who are more timid and shy, knowing they have the support of their counselors and staff to try new things will help them come out of their shell and become more confident in their choices.
It’s never easy to try something new, like leaving home for the summer to go camping. But a new environment is often the best learning place for children to realize what they are capable of. They have the chance to step out of their comfort zone and try new things. It can be something simple like new foods to new activities to new friends. Camps encourage their children to try new things, and reward them for their efforts.
Activate Adventure at Camp Cody
At Camp Cody, we want our campers to not just have fun while they’re here, but grow in every way possible—to develop physically, emotionally, socially, and mentally. The things they’ll learn here will become valuable skills for their whole lives, past childhood into adulthood. Learn more about our camp philosophy and lessons to see why Cody is the best place for your child to spend their summer.