Are you sending your child to camp this summer? If so, you may be surprised as to all the benefits a few days of exposure to nature, friends, and great role models will do for your child.
Camp gives children a unique experience where the un-ordinary becomes ordinary. It provides children with a safe, supervised, positive environment, which fosters grow and character development. Additionally, Camp Joy is a place where campers who typically may not get a camp experience can come and enjoy great activities, goal setting, peer support, and learning, without the everyday pressures of life.
The American Camp Association (ACA) conducted a study in 2005 of eighty American Camp Association accredited camps and over 5,000 families. Results from this study confirmed that camp builds skills necessary to prepare campers to assume roles as successful adults and productive members of society. Parents, campers, and camp staff independently reported growth in areas such as self-confidence, independence, making friends, and exploring and learning new activities. Here is what Campers and Parents had to say about camp:
- Camp helped me make new friends. (96%)
- Camp helped me to get to know kids who are different from me. (93%)
- The people at camp helped me feel good about myself. (92%)
- At camp, I did things I was afraid to do at first. (74%)
- 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%)
- My child remains in contact with friends made at camp. (69%)
Additionally Recent research suggests that exposure to nature can improve all children’s cognitive abilities and resistance to negative stresses and depression. According to Richard Louv’s book Last Child in the Woods:
- More than 100 studies reveal that one of the main benefits of spending time in nature is stress reduction.
- Environmental psychologists reported in 2003 that simply a room with a view of nature can help protect children against stress, and that the protective impact of nearby nature is strongest for the most vulnerable children — those experiencing the highest levels of stressful life events.
- Other studies indicate that nature can be powerful therapy for such maladies as obesity and depression.
- Fascinating recent studies by the Human-Environment Research Laboratory at the University of Illinois show that direct exposure to nature relieves the symptoms of attention-deficit disorders. By comparison, activities indoors, such as watching TV, or activities outdoors in paved, non-green areas, leave these children functioning worse.
- In addition, anecdotal evidence strongly suggests that creativity is stimulated by childhood experiences in nature.
Camp promotes community, teaches critical thinking, broadens horizons, and allows campers to practice growing-up outside the context of their immediate family. So, don’t be surprised after picking your child up from camp if they are just a little different from when you dropped them off (this is of course excluding a few bumps and bites.) On the car ride home you will notice two things almost immediately. They will be super excited to tell you everything about camp, and they will want to sleep (not specifically in that order). Once they are home though, and you notice that they are just a little bit more considerate, helpful, outgoing, and confident in themselves, you will come to realize that Camp is an unparalleled experience in growth and development in a child’s life.