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Mendo Lake Family Life

Breaking the Screen Habit and Other Gifts of Camp

Feb 04, 2020 01:29PM
By Mary Ann Blair

Summer is not as far away as you think. It’s not too early to start thinking about sending your kids to camp. If you have never sent your kids to a summer program, here are seven reasons why you should consider it.

With so many options, it’s easy to find a good fit for your child. From sports camps and art camps to STEM-based camps and more traditional overnight options, summer camps are designed to serve a variety of ages and interests. The length of camp can range from a few mornings for younger kiddos to weeklong sleep-away camps for older kids. Local churches, school districts, and other organizations such as the YMCA, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, and 4-H offer a wide range of camps. With a little bit of research, you can easily find a camp well suited for your child. In April, Family Life will publish its annual Camp Guide and hold a Camp Fair, each of which may simplify the search.

Camps provide kids with experiences they might not normally have access to. Horseback riding. Paddling a canoe across the lake. Wilderness survival. Conquering a ropes course. Sleeping under the stars. Adventures are endless at camp, and your child will have an opportunity to try something brand new. For the youngest campers, trying a new craft activity or learning a new camp song can be so much fun.

Camps are a safe place to practice social skills. It might be awkward or uncomfortable for your child during those first few hours of camp when they don’t know a single soul. After all, stepping into a new social environment can be challenging. But the ability to comfortably communicate with new people is a life skill that all kids need, and camps are great places to practice. Camps also provide kids an opportunity to form friendships with a whole new group of peers they might never have met otherwise.

Camps give kids a much-needed technology break. No matter how old your child is, she or he could probably benefit from a screen hiatus, especially during the summer months. Spending time outdoors, learning a new skill, having fun, and forming new friendships are good for the body and soul.

Sending kids to camp is beneficial for you, too. Driving away from your child on the first day might be a little gut wrenching. But entrusting her or him to someone else for a while can be truly beneficial. Maybe it will free up time for some overdue self-care or give you and your partner opportunities to reconnect. Maybe it will provide a chance to hit the reset button with your tween or teen. After all, absence makes the heart grow fonder. Parenting is tough work, so don’t feel guilty if you enjoy this time to yourself. Chances are, your kid is having a blast without you.

Campers turn into camp counselors—a cool summer job. Camps counselors provide kids with all kinds of good, clean fun. Most of these counselors were campers once, too. Now they get to help a new set of youngsters make unforgettable summer memories, all while sharpening their own teamwork and leadership skills. Your child might have that same opportunity one day. What a terrific way to spend a summer.

Camp is just plain fun. So many adults have fond memories from their days spent at camp, and kids who have been to camp often say it’s a favorite part of their summer. Odds are, your kids are going to love it. And for that reason alone, it’s worth sending them to camp. 

Mary Ann Blair, a mom of two boisterous boys, chronicles her adventures in motherhood at maryannblair.com.