Camp is an amazing place for kids to have fun, but also to learn and grow. It’s a place where children can develop valuable life skills that they can’t develop sitting in front of a screen all summer. They can try out new activities like arts and crafts, and different sports while learning things like communication, collaboration, self-discipline…the list goes on. But how do campers learn these “softer” skills at summer camp? Here are just a few ways camps implement these life lessons:
One of the reasons summer camp is so great is that it gives kids an outlet for their physical energy. They have wide open fields for sports like lacrosse or soccer, lakes for canoeing and swimming, and forests with trails for hiking and camping. Camps are perfect for harnessing kids’ energy and turning it into skills through various activities.
Organized physical activity can teach some valuable lessons. For example, the value of fitness. Getting to play sports requires bodily control, and the discipline to work hard even when you’re tired. Not to mention that sports require strategic thinking with various plays and techniques. Learning these things will help your camper build skills like hand-eye coordination and endurance.
Another physical skill is spatial and self-awareness. Children aren’t usually well aware of their surroundings or the well-being of others, but being around new people in a new place will push them to be more attentive. They may even learn about first aid, water safety, and how to look out for others. And of course, trying new things requires learning about healthy risk-taking. Trying something new, and learning to emotionally handle the aftermath of not everything working out, will set them up for many challenges later in life.
Social and Emotional Skills
Meeting new people for the first time at camp gives your child plenty of chances to learn valuable social skills such as communication, teamwork, and active listening. Shy or introverted children have the support of counselors to engage with their fellow campers and come out of their shells. They’ll learn how to share and cohabitate with their bunkmates. Kids will make new friends and create better, more mature friendships that could last a lifetime while improving their social skills.
An especially important skill is emotional intelligence. A hard skill for even adults to grasp, it takes a lot of practice for children to learn how to manage their emotions, and also be sensitive to the emotions of others. It requires a lot of humility, patience, and compromise, especially when interpersonal conflicts arise.
That’s why camps make sure their campers feel safe to express themselves. This can show itself in many ways. Maybe your child feels pressured to like sports but would much rather learn crafts. Or maybe they’re anxious and need extra help from a counselor to stay calm. When we hold in emotions or feelings, they only fester and make things worse. Being able to talk about them with others helps with self-control and emotional regulation, as well as conflict resolution.
This leads to self-awareness of one’s feelings, which is also a form of self-care. Sometimes when emotions get to be too much, you need to take a break and do something different. That’s why playfulness is so important at summer camp—it gives kids a chance to let out their emotions in a healthy way, but also recharge with playful activities if they feel burnt out.
The other side of the coin is resiliency, learning how to be brave and strong in the face of disappointment or conflict. As much as we’d like to shield our kids from harm, they will go through many challenges in life. For example, what happens if they get homesick while away? They can learn to rely on their counselors and new friends to feel better or to learn how to be content while by themselves.
Good listening, both to yourself and others, is also key for emotional learning. Under the guidance of counselors and staff, kids learn to ask themselves, how am I feeling? What made my friend feel this way? How can I better communicate my feelings?
As your child learns about their emotions and how they feel in their body, as well as how to handle those emotions, they’ll also grow in self-appreciation and acceptance. Camps are incredibly supportive and attentive environments thanks to the good staff and intentional care of the children. If your kids feel safe and supported, they’ll be more open to feedback and affirmation that can help them develop.
Kids are much smarter than we think they are. There’s a lot going on in their brains, even at a young age. Being away from parents while at camp allows them to practice intellectual skills like decision-making. At home, most parents make the decisions for their children. Now kids will have to decide for themselves what activities they’ll do, which people to make friends with, what clothes to wear, and what food to eat at mealtimes. The staff and other campers will also hold them accountable for their actions, whether good or bad.
Time management is another important one. Camps run on schedules, and not showing up on time, or being ready, could mean missing out on something fun. And being around new people is a great opportunity to practice tolerance. Not every child comes from diverse communities or backgrounds, but they’ll meet all kinds of people at camp. Though they may not get along with everyone, they will learn to be kind and respectful or even befriend children who’re different from them.
Being on their own will also require your camper to learn assertiveness. Though you are your child’s greatest supporter, they need to learn to become their biggest advocate. Being at summer camp will give them the chance to speak up for themselves and what they need, think, and desire.
Learn Life Skills at Camp Cody
When your child comes to summer camp at Camp Cody, they’ll have an incredible summer of fun but also of great emotional, social, intellectual, and physical skill-building. You’d be surprised how much campers can learn and grow in just one summer. And if they return to camp year after year, they have even more chances to grow in these soft skills, and in other areas of life.
By sending your child to camp, you’re not only giving them a great childhood experience, but you’re setting them up for a fantastic future. Learn more about Camp Cody and what your child will do here if they come for the summer!