“… a few weeks spent in a well-organized summer camp may be of more value educationally than a whole year of formal school work” – Charles W. Eliot, 21st President of Harvard University, in his 1922 treatise on education
A summer at camp provides a unique learning experience and opportunity for growth that can’t be duplicated in the classroom. Campers learn values and skills that will not only help them at camp but also in the classroom and in life. A study conducted by the (American Camp Association) ACA titled, “Youth Development Outcomes of the Camp Experience”, reports that children who attend camp have better social skills, higher self-esteem and show more independence!! They return to school more confident, more likely to sit up front, ask questions and ignore distractions – setting themselves up for academic success! We couldn’t agree more!
In our 46 years of operating Roughing It Day Camp, we have seen the challenges of today’s young people change greatly. What hasn’t changed however is the fundamental values and skills they need to face and overcome these challenges. How and where they get those skills however is paramount and summer camp offers not only a safe and supportive environment but one that is full of fun too!
Here are just a few of the fundamental skills that our campers learn that they can bring to school with them!!
FRIENDSHIP and Building Positive Relationships
For most young people, it is the friends they make that render their experience unforgettable and that is even more true at camp. The relationships they form at camp can often span a lifetime and are more genuine and diverse than they might find at school, in their neighborhood or on their phone. At Roughing It, our counselors are trained to help campers learn to accept, trust and respect and form “real” relationships that they might not otherwise have the time, opportunity or confidence to make. Camp develops the self-assuredness our campers and most young people need to introduce themselves, talk to new kids and play with others outside their usual circle of friends.
Groups working together, functioning as a team doing various, mostly fun, projects is a daily occurrence at camp!! It takes time and experiences for kids to understand and accept how differences and individual strengths can be a benefit to the whole group and this happens at summer camp. Sharing, comprising, taking turns, respecting other thoughts and ideas and communicating are all important team work skills campers learn under the guidance of fellow young people (cool camp counselors)! This year, we at Roughing It, introduced the Great Roughing It Team (GRIT) challenge where campers had to put their critical thinking, teamwork and communication skills to work to solve group challenges! It was amazing to see how each group came together for a common goal and pushed themselves to work harder and better, as a team!
GRIT and Resiliency
While it’s not easy to see campers to struggle through uncomfortable or difficult situations, we know that supporting them through these struggles says to them that we believe they can handle and overcome it! Whether it’s learning to work with a fellow camper, learn a new swim stroke or hiking that steep hill, finding solutions and responding appropriately the next time a situation arises build kids who can handle and bounce back from life’s challenges. Kids become resilient!
Camp is such an inspiring and supportive environment that campers are encouraged to step outside of their comfort zone and take healthy risks. Confidence and self-esteem come as a result of their efforts, feeling confident, having success experience and making genuine contributions. The confidence they find at camp often translates to other parts of their life: running for Student Council, trying out for the water polo team, offering to read aloud in class!
Learning to become self-sufficient, establish their own social connections and take responsibility for themselves and their things builds independence in young people. Whether it’s taking care of your things, helping to clean up after lunch or an activity or deciding on what activities to do for the day, camp provides endless opportunities for kids to learn to think and do for themselves!
One of the best values we can teach children is to respect themselves, others and the world around them. Camp is the best place to learn empathy, boundaries and acceptance for things that are different or not familiar.
We often think of camp as a break from the rigors and demands of school – a time to have fun and not worry so much about grades and homework. And while camp probably won’t give you a report card to know how well your child has done, what you will undoubtedly see are values that run much deeper and last longer. Values that shape children, make them contributing members, confident leaders, self-sufficient learners, empathetic classmates and happier students! Values that they can not only bring to school but carry with them making them successful and happy adults in the 21st century!