More than fun and games – what your kids will get out of day camp and overnight camps

Summer camp isn't just a place where children have fun; it's also a place where children learn invaluable life experiences that can't be had in a classroom.

Numerous studies have shown that both day camps and sleepaway camps foster emotional intelligence, personal responsibility, and leadership abilities — skills that continue to improve well into adulthood. Whether it’s by helping put up a tent, cleaning their bunks without being asked, or participating in a game, children of all ages gain independence by learning to take initiative at camp. Below are a few of the specific qualities children develop at camp that carry over to other areas of their home and school lives.

Social Skills

The social skills developed at summer camp — learning how to work and play together, understanding and managing emotions, and empathizing with others — are all part of a healthy maturation process. Children who attend camps create meaningful social connections and networks as they learn to interact positively with their fellow campers. What’s even better is that these skills don’t stop developing when camp is over. Research shows that children’s emotional intelligence and social agility not only continue to grow throughout the school year, but even improve with each subsequent return to camp. Stephen Fine, research chair for the Ontario Camps Association, says that building social skills is essential to raising a confident, independent child. “Teamwork, cooperation, and negotiation are inherent to the camp experience,” he says. “Kids’ confidence levels and their ability to be in social situations increase.

Confidence

Summer camps help boost children’s confidence by giving them opportunities to build confidence and problem-solving skills without the help of their parents. Children are encouraged to take risks, accept new challenges, step outside of their comfort zone, and test their limits — all within a safe and supportive environment. Children learn that failure isn’t a bad thing and that challenges can be overcome. These critical life skills often spill over into home and school life, translating into improved self-confidence, courage, and creativity.

Specialized Skills

Learning isn’t just for the classroom. There are many specialized day camps and overnight camps offering programs in everything from math to geocaching. Children enrolled in these types of camps come away from the summer season with new sets of skills that they can then apply to other situations in their lives. Consider how the following types of camps can help your child improve his or her resilience, self-esteem, and leadership abilities.

  • Technology and computer camps – These camps offer programs in various subject areas which include computer programming, digital art, robotics, video game creation, and website design.
  • Science camps – These camps provide activities and programs for budding scientists in a wide variety of fields, including ecology, zoology, physics, and space.
  • YMCA camps – Dotted across Ontario and Quebec, these camps offer lessons in archery, arts and crafts, canoeing, rock climbing, and many other activities. YMCA also offers specialized programs, such as sports camps and music camps.

The above are just a few of the many lifelong skills that children gain at summer camp. By boosting their self-esteem, encouraging them to take risks, and supporting them in making their own decisions, day camps and overnight camps help create well rounded children who mature into secure, responsible adults.