Summer Camp: Ideal for Personal, Social, Physical and Emotional Growth

Summer camp is a safe, caring and unique environment prime for active learning on multiple levels: personal, social, physical and emotional. Even kids who struggle to learn in other settings often succeed at camp, including kids with attention deficit disorders and other mental disabilities. With its powerful potential to impact children in a positive way, camp promotes a strong carryover into other areas of life including work, home and school.

Personal: Discovering a New Sense of Self

Amazing things can happen on a deep, personal level. Campers learn to do things on their own, accept responsibility for their own space and depend on one another to accomplish tasks. Separated from their parents and the security of home, campers learn to stand on their own two feet. A single summer can change their entire self-concept.

Reward systems at camp function differently than at school. Where schools reward good grades, camp rewards a broad range of accomplishments. Campers feel valued for contributing to a community of their peers and fulfilled on an extremely personal level. Campers return home with a new sense of self and the confidence to excel in other areas. Life after camp is never the same.

Social: Confidence, Connection and Community

Children often struggle to meet new people in everyday life. Immersed in the camp environment, the same children discover rare opportunities to make friends and connect with other campers. A more supportive community without intimidating school cliques, camp breaks down the barriers to social interaction to promote mutual acceptance. By working together as a team, building social capital and behaving like good citizens, campers learn to become more successful in life.

Camp is prime for building deep and lasting social bonds. The average camp-initiated friendship and resulting network can last a lifetime. Campers also learn valuable lessons about being a contributing member of a community, which continue to serve them far into adulthood. Especially for those with trouble fitting in with peers in other settings, camp helps children build truly invaluable social skills.

Few personality traits develop social skills faster than self-confidence. Rich with new adventures and exciting chances to excel in areas never before ventured, camp celebrates small victories in ways few environments can match. Campers who engage in physical and sporting activities discover a new sense of personal freedom and the confidence to be their true selves. Self-assurance grows and social skills flourish.

Physical: Encouraging Health and Well-Being

More than just personal triumph and social confidence, camp also promotes physical health and well-being. Physical challenges including swimming, horseback riding, rock climbing and hiking help campers build not just strength and confidence but also awareness of their own physical prowess and ability to challenge themselves.

The unique opportunity to move all day, from the moment campers get out of bed, transfers over to other areas of life now and for the long run. Camp is even considered a health benefit and potential antidote to childhood obesity. Sending campers outdoors and in motion remains one of the best ways to encourage physical activity and the resulting impact on overall health and well-being.

Emotional: Independence for the World Ahead

Camp is chockfull of opportunities for children to adapt and grow emotionally. An eye-opening experience outside the normal day-to-day, the setting encourages campers to ask important life questions and create fresh, new ideas. A safe and nurturing environment structured to help campers challenge and test themselves, camp breeds the emotionally strong adults of tomorrow.

By learning to cope with separation without parental guidance, campers discover the exciting world around them — for themselves. Even the most overprotected camper can build a new sense of independence, confidence and responsibility. Beyond the boundaries at camp, campers learn to be well grounded in the real world.

Life Skills: Learning How to Problem-Solve

Negotiation, compromise and co-existence only scratch the surface of the life skills children learn at summer camp. By interacting spontaneously with peers, campers develop socially, grow creatively and learn to problem-solve with a new sense of confidence. Campers also learn the all-important lesson to approach life with a group-centered (rather than self-centered) mindset.

Summer Camp: A Top Learning Environment

Camp is without a doubt a fun experience. However, the real value comes from learning. And few environments make learning as enjoyable as camp. Campers learn about themselves and how to relate to and interact with peers. Campers learn self-reliance but also how to work as part of a team. From sharing cabin clean-up duties to supporting one another on the rope course, camp is all about working together to achieve common goals. While school enhances academic credentials, camp teaches children how to grow up to be successful adults. And it makes all the difference.

How to Find the Perfect Special Needs Camp

For good old-fashioned fun and structured freedom, kids and parents alike look forward to a summer away from home. Kids with special needs (and their parents) are no exception. But for most first-time special needs campers and parents, venturing out into the world at camp raises questions and concerns. From camp policies on attention, to participation in sports, to the potential to make friends, the perfect camp for your special needs child beckons for you to find it. Camp Pa-Qua-Tuck is here to show you how.

Top 3 Benefits of Camp

First, understand the most important reasons for sending your kid to camp:

  1. Life skill acquisition. For both special needs and typically developing kids, camp fosters two critical character traits: confidence and independence. From conquering challenges without parents, doctors or physical therapists, to doing more things for themselves, to learning to ask friends for help, campers build invaluable problem-solving and communication skills, returning home with the strength to stand on their own two feet.
  2. Physical activity and exercise. Unlike their peers, disabled or special needs kids rarely participate in sports or recreation. Neglecting the social and health benefits associated with physical activity and exercise puts all sedentary kids at a disadvantage. The active camp lifestyle welcomes immediate benefits including increased social interactions and improved cardiovascular fitness. Combining learning with activity, camp encourages special needs kids to build new friendships and develop or catch up on important skills. Camp helps level the playing field for children of all ability levels.
  3. Positive role modeling from adults. Camp counselors serve as positive role models who support campers, challenge them to grow and expand the realm of possibilities. Campers thrive from supportive relationships by overcoming adversity, reaching new academic achievement and developing positive identities. The impact of the counselor on the emotional well-being of the camper further encourages healthy relationships between campers and a shared sense of community. The lessons learned pave the path to adulthood.

Different Types of Camps

Next, understand the options. Camps vary in length of stay, philosophy, cost and other key characteristics, creating a range of options to suit almost every possible niche: nonprofit and for-profit; private and run by national organizations; co-ed and single gender; day camp and weekend sessions only; sleepaway for the entire summer. Even kids with special needs can choose from a variety of options:

  • Camps accredited by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) with accommodations including wheelchair-accessible ramps.
  • Inclusionary (or mainstream) camps integrating groups of special needs and regular needs kids.
  • Camps for kids with a specific health issue (diabetes, cancer, speech or hearing impairment, cerebral palsy, etc).
  • Camps for kids with many different kinds of special needs including behavioral problems, chronic illnesses and mental or physical impairments.

Take the Journey

Finally, begin the journey towards finding the perfect camp for your kid.

Start with the basics. The search for the perfect camp begins with the basics: length of stay, cost, age range of campers, location (and proximity to the hospital for kids with medical issues) and camp philosophy.

Add a list of goals. From transportation and wheelchair accessibility to accommodations for special diet, jot down a list of goals.

Caretaking priorities. Especially for special needs kids, consider the camp’s approach to caretaking including: staff-to-camper ratio, average age and certification of counselors, background working in special needs, and medical and nursing staff.

Consider the cost. The cost of camp varies widely, with high-end special needs camps costing thousands for multiple-week sessions. Scholarships from select camps and sponsorships from charitable and fraternal organizations can ease the financial burden. Financial aid from the state is another option to cut the cost.

Gather your questions. What do you and your kid want to get out of camp? Does your kid have any friends attending camp? Is your kid comfortable being away from home (and for how long)? These are the questions that point parents in the right direction.

Visit the camp (together with your kid). Stop by the camp and talk to the director. Look at the rooms, cabins and overall environment. See how the camp staff responds to requests. Get a feel for the place. Interview counselors and speak to other families. Remember to involve your kid in making the decision.

An Unforgettable Summer

Whatever the special need, there is likely a camp to suit your child. With a little research and an understanding between parent, child and camp staff, everyone can enjoy an unforgettable summer.

Moriches PaQuaTuck SQUAWS

Summer Camp: Honing a Habit of Healthy Living

Children and teens love the summer — but is the feeling mutual? According to the National Summer Learning Association, the summer makes students vulnerable to forgetting the skills acquired during the academic year, losing months of grade level equivalency and gaining excessive weight. Summer camp can help reverse the decline.

The combination of daily lessons, enrichment and exercise strengthens the mind and body to prevent the “summer slide” and keep students on track for good health and academic success year round. By keeping campers mentally focused, eating healthy, physically active and away from tablets and technology, summer camp helps campers reach their true potential, discover a positive sense of self and grow from achievement.

A safe and nurturing place to learn, stay healthy, build relationships and overcome barriers, summer camp helps children and teens hone a habit of healthy living to last a lifetime.

Smart food choices.

Fast food is both easy and affordable. A few bucks and a quick drive-thru gets you instant access to a juicy burger, tasty fries and a refreshing soda. Convenience aside, the irony is fast food’s incredible inconvenience for children and teens looking to establish healthy habits. Accessibility to unhealthy foods (combined with lack of exercise) accommodates for record numbers of childhood obesity over the last three decades.

Poor food choices expose children and teens to a lifetime of bad and hard to break habits. Plagued with poor self-esteem and unhealthy body image, overweight and self-conscious children and teens rarely participate in team events or sports and demonstrate poor proactivity in making new friends. It’s a lonely, scary but totally preventable life experience.

Summer camp encourages children and teens to make their own food choices. Often their first experience of true food freedom, campers learn to test their own limits of healthy meal options. Pizza and French fries may cause a post-lunch stomach-ache but the camper learns from the experience. The advantage for campers is figuring out for themselves how to find balance in their diet.

Camp can also positively impact the mindset of healthy eating. Rather than a “cure for boredom” — campers learn to associate food and eating with necessary nourishment after long, exciting and active days. All things considered, summer camp is a place for children and teens to develop healthy eating habits and continue feeling great now and throughout life.

Physical activity and the great outdoors.

Compounding the consequences of poor food habits is lack of exercise. The main culprits: recordable and always available TV, tablet computers built for mobility, and attached-to-the-hip smartphones. The statistics are alarming: computer, TV and phone use is now the highest among any other generation. More time in front of screen means less time for physical activity and the great outdoors.

Free from the distraction of technology, summer camp forces children and teens to think outside the box in order to keep busy. Fast paced summer days filled with activities — sports, games, music, art, dance and more — engage even the most resistant of campers. By learning new skills, campers develop pride in newfound strength. Finding fun beyond technology becomes an equally challenging and rewarding experience.

Campers also watch and learn the active lifestyles of counselors who serve as positive role models. More than keep campers active for the summer, counselors inspire children and teens to continue moving and exploring their interests year round. The active, outdoor experience creates a foundation of health for campers to evolve into a lifestyle.

Making (and learning from) decisions.

Camp is a safe place for children and teens to make — and learn from — personal choices. Campers choose their own activities and experiences, resulting in a number of key benefits to promote healthy living.

Empowered to make their own decisions and open to the experience (either good or bad), campers either grow in the knowledge of making a good choice or learn to try something different the next time around. The decision making process in itself encourages a healthy lifestyle at camp and at home.

The decisions campers face teach personal responsibility and perseverance. In gaining a new sense of independence, children and teens develop the confidence to break free from unhealthy peer groups, habits and behavior patterns.

Learning important life skills.

The summer camp environment and community expects “good” from each camper. The unique way to live and play teaches every camper healthy behaviors like patience, inclusion, empathy, joy, laughter, self-reflection, independent thinking, problem solving and more. The end result is critical life skill acquisition.

Rather than a didactic experience, camp teaches life skills campers can practice day in and day out. From learning to associate success and confidence with physical movement of the body (climbing high mountain peaks), to learning to enjoy the space and freedom of the great outdoors (walking, running, hiking, playing), campers explore, connect, learn and grow from the people and world around them.

Rest and relaxation.

In exciting environments, adults can better regulate their energy than children and teens. The structured summer camp schedule operates with the optimal energy of campers in mind. After an exhausting abundance of high-energy activities, daily rest time prevents campers from tuckering themselves out. Rest and relaxation balances physical activity.

Campers take responsibility for getting enough rest. Long days quickly teach campers to get adequate rest both during the day and at night. Pushing to the limit plus taking it easy creates a happy balance. A new appreciation for sleep and bedtime teaches campers to better regulate their body’s need to rest at camp and at home.

Good hygiene.

Aside from getting dirty during the day, children and teens learn good hygiene at summer camp. After swimming, playing, sweating and discovering their messiest selves, campers look forward to cleaning up in the shower. Washing up after playing hard quickly catches on as the thing to do.

Every camper takes responsibility for their own cleanliness. Good hygiene practices like brushing your teeth to keep a nice smile become enjoyable and social. Campers embrace positive routines, take ownership of daily hygiene practices and learn to take better care of themselves at home.

Habits for a long and healthy life.

Summer camp is a whole body experience: a special chance for children and teens to make their own choices in an environment designed to celebrate and model active, healthy living. Campers discover a universal desire to experience growth and physical gains. With everyone identifying as their own person, all growth at camp is unique.

Campers walk away with a new appreciation, respect and passion for the healthy habits learned over the summer. The experience promotes the best for every camper on every level: physical health, positive attitude and a mindset focused on healthy food choices and an active lifestyle. Camp creates habits to benefit children and teens as they grow and help them live long and healthy lives.

How Summer Camp Breeds Strong Planners

Summer camp brings two things to mind: endless fun and warm memories. However, more than just a place to embark on new adventures and build new friendships, summer camp prepares the young mind for something greater: invaluable life skills. Learning how to live with people other than family, resolve conflict, disconnect from technology and appreciate the outdoors only scratches the surface. Threaded into the summer camp learning experience is the critical ability to plan ahead. Discover just a few of the ways summer camp breeds strong planners.

Packing for the summer.

Camp improves planning skills before the summer even begins. Pre-camp packing marks the first true test of a camper’s ability to plan ahead. Gearing up for the wide range of activities ahead means selecting the best clothing and supplies to feel confident and prepared for a given event. What makes pre-camp packing so vital is one simple fact: whatever the camper leaves behind, stays behind. Campers learn first-hand the meaning of responsibility and accountability. Even with the help of a parent or adult, packing teaches invaluable decision-making skills: a key character trait of strong planners.

Making (and keeping) a schedule.

Scheduling activities presents two opportunities for stronger planning. First, campers dabble in the decision-making process by narrowing down a world full of fun and options to a schedule of activities to pursue. Second, campers weigh the logistics of navigating the chosen schedule to make the most of the camp experience. After signing up for activities, campers learn to consider both the immediate future and the days and weeks ahead. Planning ahead ensures a smooth process once activities begin, reducing stress and creating more room for enjoyment.

Preparing for the day.

Getting ready for the day requires more than just breakfast and a shower. Every waking moment, from the early morning to bed time, welcomes another opportunity for fun and excitement no camper wants to miss. Planning ahead ensures the day runs smoothly, minimizing wasted time and more importantly, missed opportunities for fun. By planning their days before leaving the bunk, campers get the most from the experience. Campers learn to appreciate time-management as a key component of stronger planning.

Putting on a show.

The age-old tradition of talent shows, comedy skits and drama performances remains a summer camp favorite. Campers love showcasing their talents and skills for just a few bunkmates or the entire camp community. Delivering a performance without a hitch requires plenty of planning, organization and especially time management. Putting on a show means carving out time in the busy camp day for creating routines, designing costumes and practicing performances. Campers learn to plan together while building the skills to excel at school and work.

The best place to plan.

Young adults who master planning ahead perform better in school, at work and in daily life. Strong planners excel at taking on school projects, college applications and any of life’s curve balls. Starting the day with a plan reduces stress and promotes success. Combing close friends and limitless fun, summer camp is a better place than any to learn the critical life skill of planning ahead.

day in the life at summer camp

A Day in the Life at Summer Camp

The outdoor activities. The lifelong friends. The heartfelt traditions. Every summer at camp welcomes another adventure. Wondering how we fit all the fun into one day? By instilling purpose into everything we do — every day, every summer — with a balanced, structured and scheduled agenda. We plan down to the detail and none of the joy happens by accident. Discover a day in the life at summer camp.

7:30am – Rise and shine!

Waking up is easy for a day filled with fun and excitement. What better way to start the morning than with a Thought of the Day? Campers begin their day focusing on one thought about honesty, caring, respect and responsibility. Reflecting on the thought at the end of the day gives every camper the chance to grow towards becoming their best self.

8:00am –Morning fuel-up.

The breakfast menu fills campers up with nutritious and delicious foods to fuel their action-packed day. Every morning welcomes fresh fruits, yogurt, oatmeal, eggs, cereal and bagels. Main breakfast entrees throughout the week range from pancakes, French toast, and waffles to scrambled eggs and omelets. Protein for strength. Carbs for energy. Ready to start the day!

8:40am – Quick cabin clean-up.

Breakfast in belly, it’s time to make the bed and tidy up the cabin. By taking responsibility for their own space, campers learn accountability, discover independence and build self-esteem. Counselors motivate campers to lend a helping hand, teaching valuable lessons about how their own actions affect themselves and others.

9:00am – Community contribution.

Part of the tradition and ritual of camp is a strong sense of community. Everyone has a role and responsibility to contribute. Sharing the load helps camp run smoothly for everyone. By learning to work together, away from the digital world of phones, internet and TV, campers develop communication and decision-making skills, independence and confidence.

9:20am to 12:30pm – Activities. Activities. Activities.

Duties completed, campers disperse for an early afternoon of activities. Supervised by counselors, campers select activities based on their interests. Counselors help campers set goals and make concrete progress towards achieving them.

The beauty of camp is its active nature. Campers learn to appreciate the great outdoors, embracing fresh air and physical activity as a healthy habit to carry through life. Nature-themed activities inspire the spirit of adventure, teach the value of teamwork and instill the strength of leadership.

The real benefit of activities happens not outside but inside the hearts and minds of the camper. The chance to practice a skill, grow proficient and enjoy accomplishment builds confidence and character. Challenge to meet new heights and steady, consistent learning helps campers reach the next level.

Daily activities include arts and crafts, woodworking, sailing, archery, climbing, mountain biking, adventure hikes, wilderness experience, nature study, outdoor living and survival skills, sports and waterfront activities including fishing, boating and canoeing, beach games and more.

12:30pm – Group gathering.

Cabin group time is an exciting and special time for campers to get together, discuss important issues, plan upcoming activities and most importantly, build friendships with other campers. Counselor-led group activity creates cabin cohesion and strengthens autonomy. Bonds also develop between campers and counselors. Counselors become positive role models, leaving a major impact on campers’ lives.

1:00pm – Break for lunch!

More than enjoy a meal together, campers gather for extra time to get to know each other. Camp chefs prepare foods young people love, fulfilling requests and even accommodating campers with special diets.

Salad bars complement hot and cold sandwiches. Grill options include hamburgers, hot dogs, turkey burgers, chicken breasts and veggie burgers. Main lunch entrees throughout the week include tacos, pizza, ravioli, chicken fingers, grilled cheese, macaroni and cheese and wraps.

2:00pm – Rest, relax and recharge.

Early starts, hectic mornings and fun-filled afternoons can be exhausting. Lunch puts campers in the perfect mood to return to the cabin for a little down time. During this important time to rest, relax and recharge, campers nap, read books, write a letter home: anything mellow and calming. The goal: to get campers ready for more activity.

3:00pm to 4:45pm – Activities continue.

Bellies full and bodies rested, the indoor and outdoor activities continue. Campers gather to learn more valuable outdoor skills and essential life lessons.

4:45pm – Free swim (happy hour).

For most campers, free swim is the best hour of the day. More than just swim, campers can visit the camp store, play sports, lounge in a hammock, purchase snacks and spend more time with other campers in the cabin. Time flies during free swim. Campers, counselors and the entire camp community look forward to this special time of day.

5:30pm – More group gathering.

From counselor-led campfires to capture the flag, campers gather again for more quality time with the group. An important time for campers to sit together, sing, dance, laugh and share in the joy of company, group cabin time is anything but boring.

6:00pm – Dinnertime.

Dinner is delicious at summer camp. Main entrees include lasagna, BBQ chicken, baked ziti, Thanksgiving dinner, spaghetti and meatballs, Italian buffet, burritos and more. Winding down over a hot meal sets the mood for the evening entertainment to follow.

7:00pm – Evening entertainment.

The whole camp gets together for a night of drama performances, themed dances, singalongs, comedy skits, talent shows, music and bead ceremonies, summer camp slideshows and more. Campers learn something new, let off steam and unplug after a day of fun and activity.

9:00pm – Quiet time

Campers shower, brush their teeth, put on their pajamas and get ready for bed. Counselors and campers discuss the day including resolution of the challenge set in the morning. Quiet time is a chance to unwind, reflect and connect one last time before bed.

10:00pm – Lights out

Time for bed. A good night’s sleep is the perfect remedy for another fun-filled day.

5 Life-Changing Lessons Teens Learn at Summer Camp

Summer camp is an invaluable experience for teens. The sense of belonging unlike anywhere else offers a place to be yourself: a rare chance to love without limits or labels. The rhythm of respite, recreation and renewal inspires teens to thrive. The transformative journey to explore year after year yields advantages teens can bring to life outside of camp. Consider our five life-changing lessons teens learn at summer camp.

1. Building emotional intelligence.

Ask any senior executive about the best predictor of employee success and one answer continues rising to the surface: emotional intelligence. Simply, an employee’s inclination for communication, empathy, understanding and self-awareness surpasses both relevant prior experience and high IQ.

An employee who is intellectually up for a task is not the same as an employee with people skills. Hiring the smartest people is important but not as important as hiring someone who is equally as thoughtful. More than smarts, experience and talent, employers demand people who can communicate, collaborate and cooperate.

Camp promotes a noncompetitive environment for teens to develop close friendships and improve interpersonal skills. Teenaged campers return home with the tools to become successful adults in families, communities and companies. The face-to-face communication and relationship skills learned at camp can prove more important for long-term success than high SAT scores.

2. Healthy risk-taking.

Teens take risks for the thrill. Despite any awareness of danger, the reward (most often, excitement) outweighs the risk. Contrary to popular belief, risk-taking is a part of normal development. The behavior can both positive and negative.

Negative risks — including substance abuse, stunts prone to serious injury, texting while driving and unprotected sex — threaten to put teens in jeopardy. Positive, healthy risks, on the other hand, can help teens thrive.

Camp is a place for safe, controlled risks and challenges. Rock climbing, wakeboarding, mountain climbing and other adrenaline inducing activities help teens seek out the excitement of risk-taking in a healthy, nondestructive way.

Healthy risk-taking builds confidence, strengthens decision-making skills and most importantly, frees teens from exposure to negative risks.

3. Learning beyond academics.

Few environments help teens build more character and life skills than summer camp. Living on their own, away from parents and forced to find their own resources, campers gain a significant edge in the key areas of independence, responsibility and decision-making.

The knowledge and skills taught in the school core curriculum hardly prepare teens for success in the community and workplace. Summer camp, on the other hand, teaches the invaluable attributes of grit, perseverance and leadership. Where school rewards good grades and academic achievement, camp builds personal character. Teens quickly learn character development is its own reward.

4. Emulating positive role models.

From the latest hip hop artist to the reality TV star and professional athlete, positive role models are few and far between. Teens who need a person to emulate often come up short in finding one.

Positive role models are instrumental in helping teens develop career aspirations, educational goals and behavior baselines. Positive role models motivate teens to avoid unhealthy behaviors including bullying, cheating in school and substance abuse. Teenagers with positive role models show greater self-esteem and perform better in school.

Camp is a wonderful place for teens to form close friendships with positive role models. Camp counselors are often diligent college students who love to help others. The friendly, personable and wholesome group at camp loves doing interesting things with others. Everyone is welcome to join in on the fun.

The positive role models at camp teach sportsmanship, determination, drive and ethics. Counselors encourage teens to achieve their goals and become the type of adult every parent dreams for their child. The supportive environment influences and inspires teens to be their best selves.

5. Journey of self-discovery.

For most teens, the success grind is the same: study for the SATs, send out college applications, select a good major and land a high-salary career. While college may be a stepping stone to a thriving career, there is no academic course for discovering your best self.

Camp is a place for teens to step back from the normal routine and realize passion, life importance and a sense of self. Campers pick up new hobbies and discover interesting subjects to study in school. The entire camp experience is a journey towards self-discovery.

Aristotle said, “Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.” Know who you are and everything is open to you. He believed self-discovery is a prerequisite for life direction: knowing what you want to do and making important decisions. The purpose of the journey: acquiring insight into your own character.

things to do summer camp

Sign Me Up! Top 8 Things to Do at Summer Camp

A U.S. tradition for more than 150 years, more than ten million American kids go to camp every summer. In the beginning, the allure of camp was getting away from miserable and even unhealthy hot city summers (remember, this was before air conditioning). Camp is no doubt a popular trend and today, kids have even more reasons to embark on the annual adventure. Consider the top eight things to do at summer camp.

1. Meet new people.

Campers gather from all over: different cities, different states, even different countries. Exposure to a whole new population breeds rare opportunities for making new friends. Campers can learn about different places and cultures, returning home with warm memories and an expanded worldview. Meeting new people adds tremendous fun, learning and excitement to the summer camp experience.

2. Try new things.

Camp hosts all sorts of games and activities you would never find in your own backyard. Archery, sailing, pottery, dance, obstacle courses — the list goes on. Bouncing the same old basketball gets old — and fast. Camp is a unique place to mix things up and beat the summer blues.

3. Challenge yourself.

Playing new sports and games, learning new crafts, pushing yourself to achieve more: camp welcomes challenge (and the resulting change) with open arms. Although never easy, conquering a new challenge is always rewarding. Campers discover a new sense of resilience, confidence and self-esteem.

4. Appreciate nature.

Everyone deserves to explore the beauty and importance of the natural world. From the trees, soil and water, to the wildlife, nature is necessary for the earth and for people inhabiting it to survive. Campers get out into the woods and mountains, discovering how the web of life works. You rarely find nature at its finest in your own backyard.

5. Change scenery.

Camp is a place to get away from the familiar. It’s about finding a new place — for yourself. You can make a fresh start, see and experience a variety of things and find out how you think, feel and act outside of your normal surroundings. Camp is a chance to get away from family and friends for a while — and just be you.

6. Learn new skills.

Rich with activities like pottery, sailing and tap dancing, you can always pick up a new hobby at camp. Camp also builds important life skills including independence, self-reliance and confidence. Living with group of people, campers also learn cooperation, compromise and tolerance. Best of all: the learning process continues every summer.

7. Get healthy.

All the fun, games and physical activity brings campers a healthy dose of exercise and a (literal) breath of fresh air. From swimming and hiking, to sports like baseball, football and cross country running, the camp experience is always a healthier alternative to sitting on the couch watching TV all summer.

8. Have fun.

Camp is simply a good time. Imagine days filled with performing arts, inline skating, mountain biking, horseback riding, canoeing, kayaking, rock climbing, whitewater rafting and more. Campers can learn survival skills or just explore nature. One thing is for sure: camp is anything but boring.

Top Questions Parents Ask About Summer Camp

Be Prepared: Top Questions Parents Ask About Summer Camp

Is your kid ready to join the millions who attend summer camp throughout the United States each year? It’s an important question. And the quest to find the best option for your kid raises many more. We gathered some of the top questions parents ask about summer camp and filled in the blanks to help you make the best decision. The goal is to prepare both you and your kid for embarking on the incredible journey of summer camp.

Why is camp so important?

For the most part, no two summer camps are the same. Each one delivers a unique experience set in its own distinctive theme. However, talk with the average camper, parent or camp counselor and you will find that in terms of benefits, most camps share a common ground. Camps from all corners of the spectrum promote many of the same positive outcomes.
A special type of community, summer camp brings kids together to share in the joy of good old-fashioned fun. Campers make new friends, explore and learn new activities, discover their spirituality and build a sense of independence by conquering new adventures away from home. All fun, learning and growth takes place in a safe environment ideal for helping kids gain self-confidence.
Adding to the growth experiences available at camp, kids also gain an invaluable set of social skills, including communication and conflict resolution ability. A landmark research study on the positive outcomes kids experience at summer camp across the United States proves kids walk away from camp with invaluable growth experiences and many of the skills necessary to assume roles as successful adults. According to the study:

  • 96% of kids said, “Camp helped me make new friends.”
  • 93% of kids said, “Camp helped me to get to know kids who are different from me.”
  • 92% of kids said, “The people at camp helped me feel good about myself.”
  • 74% of kids said, “At camp, I did things I was afraid to do at first.”

The same study confirms similar results from parents: “My child gained self-confidence at camp.” (70%); “My child continues to participate in some of the new activities he or she learned at camp.” (63%); and “My child remains in contact with friends made at camp.” (69%). Commenting on the study, the American Camp Association (ACA) also confirms camp is both a laboratory and a catalyst for child development.

What types of camps are available?

Parents can choose from a number of options: single sex, co-ed, residential, day, all-around, etc. Specialty camps with distinct missions may also appeal to a select group of kids: for example, a summer camp for children with disabilities. With your unique goals in mind, finding the right camp is easier than you think. Do a quick Google search, follow up with a phone call to book a tour, bring your kid along for the ride and narrow down the options. When you both fall in love is when you found the perfect camp.

How do I know when my child is ready for camp?

Rather than a specific age, the type of camp often determines readiness. Different camps require kids to reach different milestones before attending a particular program. The key takeaway: a camper’s unique development is often the strongest indicator camp directors consider before accepting them into a summer program. Readiness is more a matter of perspective than the number of candles on a birthday cake.

How will my shy kid make friends at camp?

Kids from all walks of life thrive in a camp setting — from the incredibly shy to the socially awkward. Miles from a place of fear, ridicule and intimidation, summer camp is a unique place for even the most reserved campers to develop their social skills and grow more comfortable in a social environment. Camp directors and counselors, trained to be sensitive to your kid’s unique personality, can even help ensure a smooth transition into the camp environment. Your kid will quickly learn: there’s no need to be shy.

What about my child’s food allergies?

Food allergies and other medical conditions don’t have to be deal breakers. Camps vary considerably in their ability to accommodate campers with different types of medical issues. But plenty of camps have the resources to meet your kid’s unique food needs. Enrolled in the right program, your food allergic kid can enjoy the summer camp experience just the same. Consult the camp’s medical staff to inquire about their specific medical policies.

What if my child gets homesick?

Homesickness is common —and perfectly normal — at a sleepaway camp. Different camps use different strategies for helping campers deal with homesickness. Before you send your kid to a camp, inquire about their specific approach. Camp counselors, for example, may help campers better recognize their feelings and work through their homesickness. The right kind of support from a caring staff can be all your kid needs to cope with feelings of missing home.

Reasons to Trust a Summer Camp for Children with Special Needs

As a parent of a child with special needs, how could you possibly trust anyone to deliver the same level of care you provide day in and day out? It’s a question on the minds of many parents searching for the people and places best suited to not only understand the daily challenges common to children with special needs but also help the child conquer them. Entrusting a special needs child to new caregivers is without a doubt a huge step for parents. Parents ready to take the step can consider a specialized summer camp program.

It’s scary. But it makes sense.

Parents may hesitate initially to enroll their child in summer camp. After all, if a special needs child never spent a single night away from home — which is quite common — then how can the child spend an entire summer on their own? It’s scary. But take a closer look and a summer camp designed for children with special needs starts to make sense. The experience can even be one both you and your child look forward to year after year.

Building confidence, independence and lifelong friends.

Just like any other child, the fun and friendships that blossom at summer camp help children with special needs grow up. The chance to get away from home, meet new people, try new activities and overcome challenges in a new and exciting environment builds confidence and independence, especially in special needs children.

In fact, few places offer more opportunities for sharing new experiences in a healthy and natural outdoor environment than a summer camp program. Campers enjoy water sports, hiking, music, arts and crafts, campfires, s’mores, singalongs and more. Every day is another chance for creating special bonds and cherished memories.

Specialized treatment — tailored to your child’s needs.

Aside from helping campers build confidence, independence and lifelong friends, a summer camp program for children with special needs recognizes an important truth: that no two children with disabilities have the same needs. A specialized intake process helps parents work with a staff of professional therapists and counselors to design a structured program tailored to the child’s unique needs. No child is left behind in receiving the specialized type of care that matters most.

A safe and supportive environment.

Another key aspect of summer camp is safety, which is important not only in the physical sense but also in the emotional. Low camper-to-staff ratios promote the individualized attention and care to meet every camper’s physical, mental and emotional needs. Experienced staff members who enjoy working with special needs children, trained to look for each camper’s unique abilities and potential as an individual, help bring out the best in every camper.

Putting it all together.

The benefits available to children at summer camp mean even more to children with special needs. As a parent, you can rest assured the only difficult time for sending your child to a special needs camp is the first time. After that, you can trust your gut to send your child back every summer.