Dr. Emily “Fish” Andrada is serving as our Camp Doctor this session for her 10th summer. When “Fish” isn’t spending her time at GAC, she works as a Pediatric Emergency Medicine Attending Physician at the UC Davis Medical Center, where she trains emergency medicine, pediatric, and family medicine residents and teaches medical students at the bedside and in formal didactics. She wrote this article for our 2016 On Target magazine.
My friend (I’ll call her Ann) is very accomplished. She was valedictorian of her high school, finished her undergraduate degree in three years with a full ride scholarship, and then graduated first in her class in medical school. She completed a highly competitive residency program in general surgery and during that time won the “best resident award.” Finally she moved to a well-known northeastern city to complete her sub-specialization at a prestigious fellowship program.
While incredibly accomplished, getting to know her personally revealed a number of entertaining facts. Ann got driven to and picked up at the hospital every day by one of her parents (she was in her early twenties in medical school). She was often in wrinkled scrubs, carrying around her belongings in a plastic grocery store bag. When she moved to the east coast, her mother moved with her “to get her settled in,” but that turned into a four-month stay, because Ann’s mother still made her dinner, cleaned her apartment, and laundered and ironed her clothes. Three months into fellowship, Ann (and her mother) still did not have a bed to sleep on because she had not figured out how to get out to a big box store in the suburbs. You might think, “Yes, that mother has made many sacrifices and as a result her child has been a raving success!” True. Ann is having great success in her career, but she has failed to develop basic life skills…and THAT is what camp is all about.
My three kids and I have been coming to camp for nine years, and while they “have fun, make friends, and grow,” I believe that the most important thing that they gain from camp is a belief in themselves and their own abilities. Most importantly, their eyes are opened to the fact that they don’t need their parents around to help them with tasks or to complete tasks for them. My kids hate when I read parenting books, but I’ve found a good one called How To Raise An Adult. The author, Julie Lythcott-Haims (a former freshman dean at Stanford), along with parents and educators, compiled a list of practical life skills that kids need before being launched into the world:
• Talk to strangers
• Find your way around
• Manage assignments, workload, and deadlines
• Contribute to the running of a household
• Handle interpersonal problems
• Cope with ups and downs
• Earn and manage money
• Take risks
From my little perch in the Wellness Center and during quick meals on the dining porch, I can tell you with no uncertainty that campers at camp practice ALL of those skills. On the surface, camp offers sailing, horseback riding, high ropes, hiking and a bazillion other activities. But in its beautifully subversive way, camp has provided our kids with a multitude of opportunities to master every single one of the life skills that will help them survive once they leave our home. I’ve observed campers meeting new kids and counselors, figuring out the layout of camp, earning special privileges by attending early morning activities, assisting in the upkeep of the cabin, working out disagreements amongst themselves, talking about their feelings, managing purchases in the camp store, and trying lots of new activities.
Each year after camp (after I have seen first-hand that my kids can function just fine without me), it’s much easier to let go—to let them manage their school work, make their own lunches, feel the burn of being late to school because they did not get up in time, and choose the extracurricular activities that they love. This year was my daughter’s last year as a camper, and while it is bittersweet, she is ready…camp has made her ready. Thankfully my boys have several more years!
I wish you all a great year and hope to see lots of old and new friends at camp next summer!
How Camp Helps Raise Adults,
How to Raise an Adult website
Ready for Adulthood Checklist, Sunshine Parenting
Five Reasons Great Parents Send their Kids to Camp
10 Social Skills Kids Learn at Camp
Five 21st Century Skills Developed at Camp
“My shy, quiet nine-year-old went to camp not knowing a soul. She came home transformed. She blossomed. She made friends, learned a multitude of activities, felt safe, loved, confident, and happy — really, really happy. As hard as it was on me, it was all worth it for her. It was the single best thing I have ever done for her.” – First-time camp parent
In today’s screen-addicted, fast-moving, ultra-competitive world, raising kids who grow into flourishing, kind, independent adults has become more challenging for parents. But research by the American Camp Association shows that even just one week at a quality summer camp program can benefit your child’s development of important life skills. In partnership with parents who are focused on their child’s healthy development, Gold Arrow Camp offers a positive, growth-focused outdoor experience that can help your child develop important life skills including independence, an appreciation for the outdoors,the ability to have fun while being unplugged from technology, and the social skills needed to make and keep friends.
The idea of having your child away from you for a week may seem scary at first, but the benefits of sending your child to one week of summer camp will last a lifetime. At camp this summer, your child will…
“Going to camp has made me even more independent and a much better people-person. I am able to go confidently up to someone and introduce myself, or hang out with someone new because of my time at camp.” – Five year camper
Whether due to parenting trends or the constant electronic connection we have with our kids, children are much less independent than we were at their same age. Twenty years ago, we were babysitting infants at 13. Now, some of us hire babysitters for our 13 year olds! By sending your child to camp, you give your child the opportunity to live and thrive without being with you and under your constant scrutiny. The growth in confidence and independence happen at camp BECAUSE you are not there. Read more about why camp experiences help kids develop independence in Parking Your Helicopter.
Most of the time our kids spend outdoors is during highly-structured organized sports, orchestrated by adults. Little time is spent just exploring, building forts, and appreciating the awesome view that hiking up a mountain trail allows. By sending your child to camp, you give your child the gift of magical childhood memories – dirt, adventure, story, and joke-filled days and nights spent with friends outdoors, under the stars, and around the campfire. These childhood memories will last forever. And, as Michael Thompson, PhD. So eloquently states, “Our best childhood memories do not include adults.” Read more about the importance of experiencing the outdoors in Experience Nature: Fighting NDD and EA.
“Camp has helped me appreciate nature and the outdoors a lot more than I think I would have if I didn’t go. I can go without my phone or connection to social media awhile, because camp has shown me that amazing stuff happens when you put your phone down and have a nice conversation with someone.” – Five year camper
Whether checking to see how many people liked their Instagram post, texting messages to friends, playing video games, or watching TV, our kids are spending a lot of their hours in front of screens. We parents are, too. By sending your child to camp, you are give your child the chance to completely unplug and learn to better connect face-to-face with other kids and positive young adult role models. Getting unplugged is one of our favorite topics, so read more at Five Reasons to Unplug and Get Unplugged to learn about the many benefits of taking a break from technology.
“I feel like I have become a kinder person and am better at making friends because of camp.” – Three year camper
The bonding and friendships that happen at camp are different from those that occur at school and on sports teams. The intensity of living together and experiencing life together, without distractions, creates the ideal setting to form life-long friendships and really get to know people well. Read more about camp friendships in Friendship: The Gold of Childhood. And read the research that shows how camp helps develop important social skills.
Interested in sending your child to camp this summer?
Request more information about Gold Arrow Camp.
Learn more about our one-week camp session
from August 20 – August 26 or enroll now!