Remember all those great camp experiences and camp movies that we all enjoyed as kids!? Of course you do! Now that the start of the season is officially here, kids all over the country start getting ready to head “camping” this summer, there are many things that they will take away other than just late night tomfoolery and burnt hot dogs. Summer camp teaches kids how to trust others, work with others, make decisions on their own (and as a group), and build relationships. Basically, summer camp teaches many of the tools that they will need one day as adults.
As little Johnny and special Suzy pack for camp and get ready to load the sleeping bags and backpacks, here are five great things to talk to them about before they head off into the wild. Let’s call them “Camp Whatchagonnalearn” goals…
5 Summer Camp Life Lessons:
TEAMWORK – Working together for the benefit of something bigger than themselves. It’s not all about “I” at camp. This takes attention away from “me, me, me,” and turns it toward the value of investing in others. Campers learn that their relationships benefit from investment, and that the team benefits as a whole when individual relationships are strengthened. Contributing to the success of the group is empowering to each individual.
RESILIENCY – Kids learn to fall and then get back up – over and over again. Think about the classic “ropes course” as an example. We have all seen this in some variation, a challenging outdoor, team-building activity that you often get at camp. Kids have to learn resilience to get through the course as they fall and start over… fall and start over… fall and, well, you get the idea. As they start to master the course their confidence builds and they accomplish a task that seemed impossible.
DECISION MAKING – One of the best things that children can learn is making smart choices – and tough choices. In a camp situation, with no social media, TV, or parents around to influence them, kids have to think independently and be smart as well as decisive.
EXPERIENCE NEW THINGS – Living in a cabin, bathing in a cold shower (or lake!), cooking food on a campfire, surviving without Instagram (oh the horror!) these are life accomplishments that young people can use to develop character, courage, and determination. When children only deal with comfortable situations, they find themselves limited in confidence, courage, and adaptability. An unpleasant or unfamiliar situation at camp gives a child the opportunity to grow in ways he or she never would otherwise.
GROW UP – Our modern culture makes life easy and convenient. It allows children to seek out what’s enjoyable and avoid what’s unpleasant but when you are stuck at camp… too bad! A kid and his comfort zone are literally lost in the woods. These different experiences provide growth, strengthen values, build confidence, and help kids find their inner strength and leadership skills.
Summer camp can be a heck of a lot of fun and it should be, but it also can provide some great life lessons. Just make sure to pack the sunscreen and prepare them mentally for summer camp before they go by getting them excited!