Campfire Notes

Five (More) Reasons Great Parents Send Their Kids To Camp

Five (More) Reasons Great Parents Send Their Kids To Camp

There are so many reasons great parents choose to send their kids to summer camp. Several years ago, I shared five of them on the most popular post I’ve ever published. But now I have more to share. Consider this the second installment in a series with others to follow, because the list of ways kids benefit from summer camp is seemingly endless.

Since I last wrote about reasons great parents send their kids to camp, I conducted research and found that camp experiences positively impact campers’ happiness and social skills. I’ll begin, then, with happiness.

The first reason great parents send their kids to camp is that it helps them BE HAPPIER.

 

“Camp makes me happy and nothing can prepare me for life as well as this environment.”

“Come on,” you’re thinking, “How can two weeks in the mountains change my child’s overall happiness level?” Good question. One of my research findings was that both parents and kids agree that children feel happier after being at camp. The combination of positive emotions, deep friendships, being disconnected from technology, and just plain fun makes kids feel happier at and after camp I’ve previously written about how the science of positive psychology may explain why kids flourish at camp and demonstrate increased happiness levels before and after their camp experience. In this era, when we’re seeing our kids suffer from rising rates of depression and anxiety, isn’t it nice to know that there’s a place where kids can go that actually serves as a positive intervention for overall happiness?

Next, great parents send their kids to camp because it helps them DISCOVER THEIR BEST SELF.

 

“Being at camp gives me this sense of belonging that I’ve never felt anywhere else.”

In many different ways, but all with the same underlying meaning, campers describe camp as a place where they can be themselves. They feel open to saying and being who they really are, not stuck conforming to what’s considered “cool” and “acceptable” in the outside world. Surrounded by a diverse group of friends of different ages and backgrounds, kids develop the ability to explore their own interests and express their own thoughts better. As a parent, I hate to admit that I sometimes push my own interests on my kids, even when I don’t mean to. For example, I might say, “You’re so good at softball! Don’t you want to keep playing?” when my child says she doesn’t want to play anymore. Stepping away from their regular activities and normal life schedules (as well as their well-meaning but often overly directive parents), kids have the opportunity to think through what’s really important to them as individuals.

Third, great parents send their kids to camp because it helps them GROW THEIR GRIT.

 

“The counselors challenged me to do things I wouldn’t normally do at home.”

Learning self-reliance, experiencing mistakes and failures, and reaching for goals are all camp experiences that help campers develop their grit, an important character trait that we’ve learned is critical to success in life. Camp offers a unique experience to children – the chance to be away from their parents for a short period of time and learn to handle more things on their own. Without parents to step in and assist, or rescue from mistakes, kids develop confidence in their own ability to make decisions and solve problems. Just being “on their own” is a huge confidence builder for kids, and they feel more self-reliant after being responsible for themselves and their belongings for a few weeks.

Fourth, great parents send their kids to camp because it helps them MEET POSITIVE ROLE MODELS.

 

“Camp has made me into a leader, having the best role models as my counselors to look up to.”

One of the best things that happens at camp is that kids get exposed to a different kind of adult role model than what they see in the media. No reality TV stars will be gracing the waterfront or backpacking trips at summer camp. No perfectly coiffed and stick-thin model will be standing next to them brushing teeth in the bathroom. No macho guy who speaks disrespectfully about women will be leading the campfire discussion. In fact, the college students who choose to spend their summer working at camp are an outstanding bunch of young adults. Most are stellar students with outstanding leadership skills. They love the outdoors and working with kids, and they are the kind of people we want our kids to emulate. They love leading discussions on topics that are important to their campers and helping them build confidence. There’s no focus on appearance at summer camp, and so designer clothes, make up, and trendy hair-styles don’t hold the same importance that they do at junior high or high school. In fact, the predominant style at camp is pajama pants paired with dirt and sweat-stained t-shirts. And we hardly ever spend time in front of a mirror.

Finally, great parents send their kids to camp because it helps them DEVELOP BETTER COMMUNICATION SKILLS.

 

“The other part of camp that has influenced me the most is the simple idea of trying to always smile.”

In post-camp surveys, campers consistently write about how ditching their electronics was one of the best things about their camp experience. In fact, it’s a practice they take home with them, setting aside phones during meals with friends so they can connect more genuinely, face-to-face. In the absence of technological tethers, campers have many hours each day to practice these face-to-face communication skills. They learn the importance of things like eye contact, smiles, and body language as they positively interact with their peers. Counselors help facilitate lively discussions, and campers learn to ask each other questions, listen more carefully, and figure out common interests. Kids learn and practice valuable communication skills at camp, which they can use throughout their lives.

There you have it! Five (more) reasons that great parents send their kids to camp!

This post was originally published on Sunshine’s blog, Sunshine Parenting. For more camp-related posts, visit the  “Summer Camp” page at her blog.

 

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How To Pack For Camp

How To Pack For Camp

Packing for camp is the start of your child’s independent camp experience. Please have your child participate in packing for camp so that he/she knows where to find their clothing and other items. Campers who don’t participate in packing often don’t know what they have or where to find things at camp, which makes it harder to get acclimated to camp. Click HERE for the PDF formatted packing list.

 

Luggage

 

  • For our two-week (and longer) sessions, we recommend campers pack in two pieces of luggage. One larger piece (soft-sided trunk or footlocker) can be used for most of the camper’s clothing. A smaller duffle bag can be used for sleeping bag, pillow, and other equipment that doesn’t fit in the main piece of luggage. The smaller duffle bag will be used for travel to and from Shaver Lake. For campers traveling by air and coming with only one piece of luggage, a backpack or small sport-sized duffle bag can be packed within your main bag and used for the Shaver trip. A small backpack is also useful for carrying a towel, shower supplies, or other equipment around the camp.

 

  • All luggage must be tagged with camper’s name. We will send luggage tags one month prior to your child’s session. Additional luggage tags will be available at the bus stops and camp on the first day of each session.

 

Labels

 

  • All of your camper’s clothing and belongings must be clearly labeled with your camper’s full name. Items that are not labeled are unlikely to be returned to your camper after being sent to our camp laundry or if lost in the cabin or around camp.

 

Shoes

 

  • Our terrain at camp is rough and uneven, and appropriate footwear is a safety requirement. Please make sure your camper has at least one pair of closed-heal and closed-toe shoes that have adequate tread for walking on rocks, dirt, and other uneven surfaces. Running shoes, hiking shoes, or other athletic footwear work well at camp, as long as they fit the camper well and have adequate tread. Other types of shoes (flip flops, Crocs, Converse, etc.) can be worn in the cabin and at the waterfront, but closed-heal, closed-toe shoes must be worn while walking around camp, participating in activities, and traveling to and from camp.

 

Little Ones

 

  • For younger campers, we recommend placing outfits in large zip lock bags or rolling outfits together. Roll together a t-shirt, shorts, underwear, and socks to create one outfit.

 

Climate

 

  • Gold Arrow Camp is located at 7000 feet elevation, and our night time, mountain temperatures can get very chilly. Be sure your camper’s sleeping bag is rated to at least 30o (or lower), so that your camper will be warm at night. Sleeping bags used for indoor, overnight sleeping are not sufficiently insulated for camp use.

 

What Not To Bring

 

  • Do not send any of these items, as they are not allowed: food, candy (including gum), cash, water guns, silly string, water balloons, sling shots (or any other weapons), electronic games, cell phones, fireworks, knives, matches, lighters, tobacco, alcohol, or illegal drugs. Items such as cell phones, iPods, game boys, etc. will be sent home and the postage will be charged to the camper’s store account. For campers traveling by air, iPods, cell phones, and travel money can be held in our office.

 

  • Do not send valuable items such as expensive cameras and jewelry. We recommend campers use a disposable camera marked with their name. These can be purchased in the camp store.

 

  • Send old clothes that do not require dry cleaning or special washing. Laundry is done once per session. Do not purchase new or irreplaceable items for camp, as they could get lost.

 

  • Please do not send any personal athletic equipment (water skis, fishing poles, etc.). We provide top quality equipment that is sized for our campers.

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