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Sending Kids to Camp: What Parents Need to Know

By: Maria Werner-- 2016-01-12 2:28 pm --

If you attended camp as a child, then you’re likely aware of the profound growth and education that children receive from it. Camp is a time when children learn independence, build social skills, develop self-esteem, and gain lifelong skills that follow them into adulthood. Here are some important things to keep in mind about summer camp to ensure your children have a positive and enriching experience.

The Benefits of Summer Camp
In a study conducted on economically disadvantaged children in NYC, researchers sought to discover the correlation between summer camp and self-esteem. To quantify the study, the researchers ranked the self-esteem of children both before and after they attended summer camp. Not surprisingly, the results showed that, on average, children experienced a considerable increase in self-esteem after returning from camp.

Research has also shown that summer camp is the ideal place to learn social skills. Social skills are imperative to child development, and they can set a child up for academic and career success later on. By surveying the social wellbeing of campers before and after camp, the research demonstrated a clear increase in social skills from just two weeks of camp.

Setting Children Up for Success
It’s no wonder that summer camp can enhance the self-esteem and social skills of children. With the social environment, prosocial activities, and independence that camp life fosters, it inevitably provides children with the tools they need to thrive. However, in order for camp to positively impact children, parents have a responsibility to prepare their children in advance. Here are a few tips to ensure your kids are fully prepared for camp life.

  • Ensure they are prepared mentally. For first-time campers, living away from home can induce a lot of anxiety. Ease your children into living away from home by organizing sleepovers, weekends with the grandparents, and evenings with babysitters. This encourages independent living prior to camp, while giving your children the opportunity to adjust to different authority figures and new environments. Also, send your child with their favorite stuffed animal, pictures from home, and other mementos that will provide additional comfort and minimize homesickness.  
  • Ensure they are prepared physically. In order for children to fully experience camp life, they need to be prepared with all of the clothing and supplies needed for their trip. Make a checklist in advance to ensure nothing is left behind, and attach name labels to all of their belongings, so they don’t misplace things while away.

By following these guidelines, you can ensure your child has a fun and rewarding time away, while experiencing minimal separation anxiety.

Qualities of a Great Summer Camp
While summer camp can be the perfect environment to foster cognitive and social growth, the quality of the summer camp will largely determine the impact it has on your child. Some of the main qualities of a great summer camp include:

  • Physically and mentally stimulating activities: Summer camp can challenge the intellect of children and push them beyond their comfort zone into new and exciting territories. Summer camps should incorporate an array of age-appropriate activities that incorporate mental and physical stimulation, while promoting creativity.
  • A diverse array of activities: Children grow by learning and exploring unfamiliar topics. Camps should provide a diverse selection of activities including musical events, arts and crafts, team sports, survival skills, prosocial activities, and educational development. This provides children with a well-rounded education that promotes cognitive, social, and creative learning.

Summer camp provides enormous benefit to children. It can boost their self-esteem, encourage independence, enhance social skills, and provide them with the tools they need to become happy and healthy adults. However, to ensure their time at camp is as enriching as possible, it’s imperative that parents prepare them for their time away. To avoid discomfort and anxiety, children need to arrive at camp with all of the clothing and supplies needed for a positive experience. Explore a variety of camp supplies at discount prices, so your child can have the tools they need to flourish while they’re away.