It’s easy to think of summer camp as just a place for swimming lessons, dodge ball, boating and arts and crafts, an easy solution to summer boredom for kids. Of course, all these things are true, and summer camp memories are made of canoe expeditions, swimming competitions, tie-dye t-shirts and rousing camp songs. However, while kids are having a blast playing games, making summer friends and learning new skills, they are also absorbing a host of vitally important life lessons that will last long after the last bus ride home from camp.
The Pluses of Perseverance
It’s not always easy to set a goal and then battle on through hardships and setbacks to meet it, whether it’s trying to finally swim the length of the pool, making it across the highest wire in the ropes course or mustering the courage to try a speaking role in the camp skit. At summer camp, kids have a safe, nurturing environment perfect for trying out new skills and learning how to keep going through initial failures to meet a goal. Maybe they get tongue-tied on stage at first and need a little prompting to keep going, or maybe they start to get discouraged at repeated failures to make it up to the next level of swimming classes. But many learn the rewards of finally succeeding with practice, perseverance and a bit of morale-boosting. Not only do kids benefit from the help of staff and other campers, but they can also learn how rewarding it can be to be the person cheering on a friend or camp mate who’s trying hard to meet their own goals.
No “I” in “Team”
There are of course loads of games and activities at camp, and many of them have sneaky ways of helping kids learn to function as a team while they are having piles of fun in the sun. More obvious team builders include rope course activities, many of which are specifically geared to this all-important skill. However, there are a vast variety of ways camp encourages kids to figure out how to work toward a common goal with a group. Whether it’s working together for a great opening night at the camp talent show, going all out in a color wars event or helping a struggling fellow softball teammate perfect her swing, camp is chock full of opportunities to learn there is no “I” in “team”. Needless to say, this skill is highly valued everywhere in our society from school to the athletic field to the work place.
How to Make Friends and Influence People
Camp is a great place to learn how to make friends, a skill more difficult than it sounds for many. Some people are by nature out-going, but many of kids need to learn a few skills that build confidence and make meeting new people and making friends easier, whether at camp, in school or in the far-distant “grownup” world. Summer camp is where kids can shed whatever role they may feel pigeonholed in at home and reach out to all sorts of new people. Camp counselors are specially trained to help kids reach out to others and even how to cope with the inevitable occasional rejection. By the end of camp, most kids have a host of new summer friends that make the anticipation of next summer’s fun even more enticing.