School’s out and Summer is upon us!
We know a fun way to keep your little ones busy outside in nature while engaging their young minds. Summer Day Camp is a great way for parents to get their children to be active while continuing to learn during the Summer. If you went to summer camp as a child then you no doubt have memories from the exciting days you spent there. Day camp allows your kiddos to stay busy during the day and you still get to spend time with them at night. They also get to sleep in their own beds, which may make some of them feel more comfortable with going to camp. There are many reasons why Summer Day Camp should be on your list of to dos’ this Summer.
Day camp is often a child’s first opportunity to have an independent experience away from their parents. This can lead to a wide variety of skills learned. It gives children an opportunity to make their own decisions and therefore leads to a boost in their self confidence and self esteem. In a survey done by the American Camp Association (ACA) 92% of the campers said that camp helped them feel good about themselves and 70% of parents say “my child gained self confidence at camp”.
Another awesome benefit to children attending summer camp is that they will spend their days being physically active. During camp your child’s day will be filled with lots of fun activities keeping their bodies and minds busy. It also gives them an opportunity to connect with nature. In fact studies show that free play, in natural areas specifically, enhances a child’s cognitive flexibility, problem-solving ability, creativity, self-esteem, and self-discipline. Camp gives children a fun alternative to unplug from technology and get outside. So many kids are glued to their video games, cell phones, and TVs. Camp gives your child an opportunity to disconnect and explore nature. And, more than likely, your children will be making friends very quickly while in camp and they will be more than excited to step away from technology and go explore with their friends.
This also shows how great camps are for a child’s social skills. They will be immersed with all types of children from different backgrounds. At camp they will learn how to communicate and solve problems for themselves and with other children. This will enable them to discover what friendship and working with others is all about. According to the ACA survey, 96% of campers say that camp helped them make new friends. The American Institute for Research also found that participating in outdoor project or issue based activities are able to communicate better with their peers. Camp is a great opportunity for your child to create and build friendships that have the potential to last a lifetime. A lot of camps have activities that require team work which is a great skill for children to learn at an early age as they will need it their entire lives. With these statistics its hard to say that camp is anything but beneficial to children.
Camp is a critical experience to the development of a child. Having that camp experience, and having it in nature, gives a child twice the benefit. Not only do they get to have some independence, build social connections, and build self-esteem, it also gives them the opportunity to connect to their local eco-systems. In his book Last Child in the Woods, Richard Louv talks about how many young children can tell you about the Amazon Rainforest, but probably can’t tell you about the forest in their own backyard. Our children need to be able to sit outside under the shade of an Oregon White Oak and enjoy the sound of wind rustling the leaves and appreciate a tree that is so important in their local eco-system – their home.
Unlike camps whose goal it is to simply entertain your child while you’re at work, nature/outdoor camps offer entertainment and education. Children learn without even knowing they are being ‘educated’ through active games, journaling, guided exploration, free time in nature and reflective are projects. The University of Illinois found that children with ADHD focused their attention better after being in a natural setting, and other studies have shown that children who engage in authentic, hands on, inquiry-based learning misbehave less than other children and tend to have better behavior in school. In a world full of distraction, where so many are plugged in and checked out, the opportunity to have guided exploration and unstructured play in nature is invaluable. Several studies also show that nature play in childhood is a determining factor in their attitude toward environmental stewardship in adulthood. That’s an investment for the future!
David Sobel said, “If we want children to flourish, to become truly empowered, then let us allow them to love the Earth before we ask them to save it.” Giving children an opportunity to have the camp experience in a natural setting definitely nourishes their already innate desire to connect with and love their natural surroundings. They’ll grow up remembering, cherishing and benefiting from a summer outdoors.