Wednesdays @ WeHaKee: Is Camp That Valuable?
Although the pressure is on to the contrary, many parents know or are discovering the whole child growth opportunities that a summer resident camp program offers their children. In contrast to the hyper-focused, high intensity delivery of a single subject program, a camp program offers a world of exploration for each child, where they can try a variety of things (many not readily available in their home communities) to see what triggers their interest and enthusiasm. And the key to this is that they will likely find many things that they enjoy, not just one!
And at camp, the camper is an active and influential participant in a community. Her actions will impact those around her, so she learns how to take care of herself and her belongings, how to manage disagreements or conflicts with other, how to be sensitive to the needs of others, how to jump in and help when help is needed, and so much more!
Now a parent may balk at the seperation that a camp experience employs – the child leaves the nest for several days or even weeks. How is a parent supposed to monitor and guide their child’s development from a distance? It is really quiite simple – they trust their child’s ability to work with what the parent has already instilled in them as they explore an unknown, yet new & exciting new world at camp. And they know that camp is a safe and nurturing environment where their child’s independence will florish along with her confidence and sense of self.
But wait, there’s more! Noted child psychologist, Michael Thompson – author of the bestseller parenting guide Homesick and Happy – shares that the overnight camp experience is critical for children to build a wide range of leadership skills while honing their own identity.
“After conducting hundreds of interviews of campers and former campers… I know that many young people do not really know how strong they are, how competent they are or even who they are until they get away from their parents and test themselves in a new and challenging environment.”
Michael Thompson, PhD, ‘Should I Be Sending My Children to Camp?’, HuffPost Parents, June 25, 2012
Thompson goes on to describe the camp experience of not a perfectly utopian adventure where the skies are always blue, everyone gets along all the time, they succeed at everything they do and the food is always healthy and delicious. Rather it is a community where “They will live with a bunch of other kids, some of whom are fantastic, others quite annoying. They will eat a balanced diet of grilled cheese sandwiches and Fudgesicles with the occasional corn dog for good measure. They will play fun but aimless games like “Capture the Flag” and sit around campfires watching hilarious, dumb skits that almost no one remembers two days later (except the authors, of course). They will master skills such as archery and kayaking, horseback riding and waterskiing, none of which will impress their varsity coach or their AP Bio teacher when they return to school.”
But that is the beauty of the camp experience – it provides real world challenges, ups & downs, successes & failures, laughter & tears that each child learns to navigate on their own, but with the quiet and almost unseen safety net of caring counselors and activity leaders who are their to help them discover their own resiliency and tenacity.
The camper sees these successes as their own, wearing them as a badge of honor! But more significantly, these are the experiences that build character and inner strength. And they stay with the camper well beyond camp as many adults who were campers will attest. The camp experience provides a world of good and changes lives forever!
To the child the camp experience is fun and exciting… and that’s really all they need! But beyond their perspective, it is so much more. The camp experience gives the child an edge in her growth and development. And others are noticing the value of going to camp, too. According to Michael Thompson, “…when I interviewed college admissions officers about how they view campers, they say that they think former campers are more likely to succeed in college because they have had successful experiences away from home… Camp helps build confidence and identity; it also builds leadership skills.”
With all this said, we hope you will consider joining us at WeHaKee Camp for Girls this summer. Registrations have been rolling in, but we still have a few openings available. Click HERE to register today!