Published : Tuesday, July 9, 2019 | 1:01 PM
Summer is upon us! Like many parents, you may be wondering if this time off from school should be spent on family vacations, planned activities at home, or summer camp. While family time spent together is extremely valuable, summer camp also offers many benefits that kids don’t necessarily get at school. The summer camp experience gives kids the opportunity to improve their “soft skills” and hard skills, meet and befriend new peers, and develop new interests. If you’re on the fence about sending your child to summer camp, here are a few things you need to know.
Kids break out of their school labels
Kids tend to get branded with labels in school: nerdy, athletic, popular, loud and funny, quiet and shy. By going to camp with different peers, your child has a chance to break out of their supposed categorization. They might feel less pressure to conform to their school label. And they’ll remember that who they are at school isn’t necessarily who they have to be all the time. It’s refreshing.
Kids can explore existing interests and develop new ones
One of the best things about summer camps is that there are so many of them that offer unique activities. There are over 14,000 day and resident camps in the United States, and they continuously adapt to the evolving interests of campers. Most camps offer traditional outdoors activities like recreational swimming and camping skills. New programs that have been introduced recently include adventure camps or programs, college planning, health and wellness, and more. If your child is interested in STEM hobbies like coding or robotics, going to a camp that specializes in these activities allows them to pursue their interests in a new setting. They’ll also encounter new ones at camp that they may not have considered before, like horseback riding or rock climbing.
Summer camp can help prevent summer learning loss
Summer learning loss, “summer brain drain,” or “the summer slide” is real: many students lose two to three months of reading and math skills during summer break. There are a few ways to prevent summer learning loss, and one of them is attending summer camp. Summer camp pulls double duty, not only keeping kids mentally stimulated, but physically active as well. There’s a myth that campers attending STEM camps or tech camps stay indoors and on a computer all day, but that’s an old stereotype. A good summer camp will provide kids with a well-balanced variety of activities, both mental and physical.
Camp teaches skills like independence and responsibility
Kids encounter the ultimate test of independence when going to camp: being away from their parents. They make small decisions for themselves: what to eat, what activities to do in their free time, who to talk to if they have a question or problem, and so on. These new experiences can be hard, but they’re ultimately worth it because of the boost in self-esteem and confidence. In addition, camp can teach kids many other essential life skills: teamwork from working on projects, respect, and openness when meeting new peers, and resilience from navigating something new on their own.
Kids can make lifelong friends with other campers
In a study by the American Camp Association, an overwhelming number of campers said positive things about their camp experiences with other kids. A whopping 96% of campers said camp helped them make new friends, and 93% said camp helped them get to know kids who were different from themselves. Kids can bond over living together at resident camps or participating in the same hobbies at day camps. Kids who go to the same school may become friends out of proximity, but kids who become friends at camp have deeper connections rooted in similar interests.
Explore Stratford’s summer camps
Sending your child to summer camp clearly benefits them, and it benefits parents, too. Giving kids time away from their home, family, and belongings can help them appreciate what they have when they return. In addition, spending time away from each other can be revitalizing for both kids and parents. If you’re looking for a STEM summer camp that offers an enriching experience, take a look at Summer@Stratford. Stratford School’s summer camps tailor activities to each age group, providing campers with hands-on learning projects and real-world problems to tackle in a fun way.