“Mom, I don’t just love camp for the incredibly exciting activities. It is MUCH more than that.”
What are the benefits of summer camp? This is one of the most frequently asked questions heard by camp directors when talking to parents who, themselves, never attended summer camp. It is a foreign concept that something that is meant to be “fun” or “a way for my kid to get out of the house for the summer” could, in fact, be a defining experience in their lives.
According to the American Camp Association, parents believe these are the three most important benefits provided to their children by summer camp:
1.) My child is provided with a safe environment.
2.) My child builds self-confidence and boosts self-esteem
3.) My child is in an environment fit for developing his/her social skills.
We decided to check in with a few campers to see if they had a similar view on what the benefits of spending a summer at camp could be. I posed three campers with this straightforward question, “what are the benefits of camp?”
Mac, one of our youngest campers (just shy of 8 years old) said, “I get to learn new stuff there like archery and riflery, and I meet a lot of friends there.” A thirteen-year-old, Patrick, who has been a camper for five years, replied “Camp in one word: Quality. I make quality new friends, am provided with quality opportunities, and make quality discoveries about myself and what makes me, me.” And finally, a seventeen-year-old who just completed her eighth and final summer as a camper, Annie said “Lifetime friends and hugely improved self-confidence.”
History has shown that campers tend to focus more on activities in their first summer or two, but as they continue through their summers the focus changes to developing oneself and further building strong friendships – the parent’s goal. All three campers commented on making friends in some context, thus satisfying benefit number three, developing his/her social skills. Summer camps are full of social interaction, whether it be with your cabinmates, counselors, at activities, or during free time.
Each camper also touched on benefit number two as well, Learning new skills or trying new things is an integral part of building self-confidence. Many young adults have told us that the transition to college or starting a new job was made easier by the fact that they had spent time at camp. The opportunities for self-growth are endless and presented daily in a camp setting.
Does camp have risk? Yes. Kids are participating in many highly skilled activities in an outdoor setting. And do bumps and bruises happen? Of course. However, the Camp Foley staff are supervised by directors with over 80 years of combined experience, have background checks, and are trained for 11 days prior to the start of the summer. Many summer programs for kids have a revolving door of leadership with the staff that has direct contact with kids getting less than 24 hours of on-site training prior to the start of the program. We welcome a conversation about our training, safety record, and supervision regulations.
When Mac, Patrick, and Annie talk about Camp Foley they are confident in their answers and talk with pride about the place they call a second home. They already are aware of the benefits they are gaining from their time at Camp Foley…think of what they will come up with when they are 20? or 30? or 60?