Why Camp Is Great for Children (and Their Parents)
You may be thinking summer camp is just a way to get your kids out of the house. While that’s certainly true, a summer camp experience also offers so many mental and physical benefits to children – and these benefits last long after the final song around the campfire! Here, we learn just how summer camp contributes to your child’s health, as well as your own.
By Mary Beth Wallace
Mental Health Benefits for Children
Without Mom and Dad around, children will have to learn to make decisions on their own. Not only that, but they will also have to be responsible for brushing their teeth, making their beds, and managing their time well, among other things. Summer camp is the perfect place for your child to become more independent and trust their own inner voice, which will help them as they transition into a self-sufficient adult.
Summer camp may be a new environment for your child, but it’s a relaxed, stress-free environment. The demands of school and home fade away as your camper focuses on fun, play, and friendship. Their immersion in nature and camp activities will relieve stress and support their mental health.
Maybe your child has never tried building a fire, or maybe they’ve never passed a soccer ball on the field. By accepting and succeeding in a new challenge, your child should see an increase in their confidence. This time of personal development encourages kids to face more difficult tasks and tackle even more problems on their own.
Lasting connections and memories
Budding friendships are such an integral part of summer camp. With bonding opportunities galore, your child will be able to grow close to like-minded peers from outside their existing social group. Your child will also get the chance to interact with campers from different backgrounds and worldviews. Along the way, they’ll be making lifelong memories that will help define their childhood.
Summer camps have so much to offer in the way of activities and programs. Some may focus on a specific skill (swimming, horseback riding, sailing), while others cater to a variety of interests, from arts and crafts to archery and tennis. No matter the camp’s offerings, your child will have the opportunity to explore new hobbies and develop new talents, which in turn instills a sense of adventure and inspires creativity.
Physical Health Benefits for Children
Increased activity level
Having a full schedule of activities every day is sure to keep your child busy! With hiking, canoeing, sports, games, and more all on the docket, campers are engaged in physical activity from dawn until dusk. As countless studies have shown, regular physical activity will improve your child’s fitness, build strong bones, reduce symptoms of anxiety or depression, and stave off a number of health conditions.
Reduction in screen time
Thanks to virtual schooling, children are glued to their laptops and phones now more than ever. Sending them to summer camp will be like a breath of fresh air – they can set their screens aside and engage in alternative activities, which helps reduce the craving for screen time. Research indicates that less screen time and more active lifestyles translate to better sleep and better grades for kids.
Extra exposure to nature
Being outdoors provides a myriad of physical health benefits to children, including boosting their energy, strengthening their immune system, restoring their focus, and even improving their vision. Time spent in nature can also reduce stress, which is a leading cause of numerous physical ailments.
Perks for Parents
Opportunity to decompress
Who doesn’t wish they had a few extra hours to themselves every day? With the kids away, parents can enjoy a little downtime and fewer items on the trusty to-do list. This is a golden opportunity to catch up on the latest Netflix show, or you might spend some time tidying the house, shopping at your favorite stores, or getting in an uninterrupted workout.
Time to devote to other relationships
Without your children demanding your constant attention, you have more time to spend with your partner, your friends, or on your own. Take this time to have a fancy date night, quality girls’ weekend, or an outing with your own parents. Nurturing these important relationships in your life benefits everyone involved.
Strengthened connection with your child
When your child returns home from camp, the benefits continue. Your camper will want to share their stories and experiences with you, as well as show you the skills they learned. They may even have some ideas for activities the two of you can do together! Let their development over the summer contribute to the strength of your bond.
These are just a few of the many benefits that your child (and you!) can enjoy this summer. Once you find the right summer camp for them, you can take the day, week, month, or entire summer to congratulate yourself on a stellar parenting decision. HS