In order for teenagers to successfully develop into well rounded adults they need a whole range of skills at their disposal to succeed on the road ahead. Perseverance, resilience and independence are all essential life skills for teens today, and finding avenues for teenagers to develop and practice these skills in different ways is just as important.
Teens need opportunities to take safe, healthy risks in structured environments in order to practice some of these skills in a way that can still appeal to their innate sense of adventure. The camp environment, by design, provides teens with a variety of opportunities to challenge themselves and encourages them to try new things. These risks can involve anything from rock climbing, jumping on a horse, kayaking on open water, or diving off a diving board.
The best part is that these activities are challenges that require kids to problem solve, strategize, and use skills they have to work towards and may not necessarily achieve on their first attempt. Developing perseverance here is key.
Learning to fail and developing resiliency is an important life lesson that can be applied to other areas of life as they grow and are faced with new and difficult situations. Camp is a great place for teens to learn to take risks, as they are in a community environment where they are both supervised and mentored by adult counselors. These counselors provide guidance and become role models for teen campers, showing by example ways to handle all types of situations.
Christine Carter, a Sociologist at UC Berkeley whose focus is on kids and teens states: “Sometimes, teens need opportunities to leap despite the odds that they will fall down. Teens need adults who are involved enough to create those ‘carefully calibrated opportunities for failure,’ and who are brave enough to let them fail, so that they might learn to get up on their own.” This healthy form of risk taking encourages teens to step out of their comfort zone and heightens their confidence as they learn to succeed on their own. It also helps give teens a sense of independence and autonomy that adolescents both crave and developmentally need to become successful adults.
The teen programs we offer here at Camp provide young adults with the opportunity to try something new, practice a skill, persevere at it and ultimately experience a sense of achievement and success. All of this combines to give teens a confidence boost and allows them to finish the summer with a positive outlook about everything they can achieve when they put their minds to it.
For an interesting read about the developmental skills and experiences essential for teen growth read Christine Carter’s article What Teens Need.