Summer camps are perfect places to help children optimize their psychosocial development.
After all, summer camps are places where children get the experiences they need to bolster their range of coping
strategies. There are complex challenges of getting along with a new group of peers, learning how to ask for help
from others, or taking manageable amount of risks without a parent following
I know that camps help our children develop great coping strategies when they provide seven things all children
1) New relationships, not just with peers, but with trusted adults other than their parents. Just think about how
useful a skill like that is: being able to negotiate on your own with an adult for what you need.
2) A powerful identity that makes the child feel confident in front of others. Your child may not be the best on the
ropes course, the fastest swimmer, or the next teen idol when he sings, but chances are that a good camp is going to
help your child find something to be proud of that he can do well.
3) Camps help children feel in control of their lives, and those experiences of self-efficacy can travel home as easily as a special art project or the pine cone they carry in their backpack. Children who experience themselves as competent will be better problem-solvers in new situations long after camp has ended
4) Camps make sure that all children are treated fairly. The wonderful thing about camps is that every child starts without the baggage they carry from school, they will find opportunities to just be kids who are valued for who they are.
5) At camp kids get what they need to develop physically. Ideally, exercise, a balance between routine and
6) Perhaps best of all, camps offer kids a chance to feel like they belong. All those goofy chants and team songs, the sense of common purpose and attachment to the identity that camps promote go a long way to offering children a sense of being rooted.
7) And finally, camps can offer children a better sense of their culture. It might be skit night, or a special camp program that reflects the values of the community that sponsors the camp, or maybe it’s just a chance for children to understand themselves a bit more as they learn about others. Camps give kids both cultural roots and the chance to understand others who have cultures very different than their own.
That’s an impressive list of factors that good camping experiences provide our children.