I have heard some people remark that parents who send their kids away to summer camp for weeks at a time must not enjoy spending time with them. Or that nobody is going to look at a college resume and care about how many friendship bracelets you can make or how many types of neon and cat clothing you can wear at the same time. And although summer camp does teach you at least 10 different ways to make a bracelet, it also teaches so much more.
Building life skills should start early in a child’s life. Allowing children to start building these skills while also allowed to just BE children is the key.
Summer camp is one of the best ways to nurture organic childhood play while also building really valuable life skills that will take children well beyond their youth.
One of the best skills found at summer camp is the building and honing of creativity.
According to Adam Grant’s book “Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World,” researchers at Michigan State University found that to receive the Nobel Prize, you need deep study in your field. They studied the winning scientists from 1901 through 2005 and compared them with typical scientists living at the same time. Grant writes that the Nobel Prize winners were:
* Two times more likely to play an instrument, compose or conduct.
* Seven times more likely to draw, paint or sculpt.
* Seven-and-a-half times more likely to do woodwork or be a mechanic, electrician or glassblower.
* Twelve times more likely to write poetry, plays, novels or short stories.
* And 22 times more likely to be an amateur actor, dancer or magician.
These original experiences most likely helped these people think outside the box within their day jobs. It gave them a creative edge that others around them did not have.
Summer camp allows the opportunity to try these types of things while also being able to do it around trees, a lake, and actual sunlight. Children are also navigating relationships in person, friendship bracelets and all.
Having a supportive community where peers and adults alike are cheering you on, showing you new skills, and allowing you to run around in a costume and hunt for hidden rocks painted gold and silver is more than meets the eye. You are allowed to mess up. You are allowed to be sad. You are allowed to be happy. You are allowed to step out of your comfort zone safely. And you are allowed to sing Taylor Swift songs at a campfire with new best friends after a day full of bold creativity.
We want our kids to become diverse human beings and not just achievement machines. The world is not scripted nor should all of our experiences be.
Not only is creativity found at summer camp, but this atmosphere also fosters leadership, self-empowerment, self-control, independence, self-esteem, and interpersonal relationships, just to name a few.
Michael Thompson, the author of “Homesick and Happy,” has written, “… there are things that, as a parent, you cannot do for your children, as much as you might wish to. You cannot make them happy (if you try too hard they become whiners); you cannot give them self-esteem and confidence (those come from their own accomplishments); you cannot pick friends for them and micro-manage their social lives, and finally you cannot give them independence. The only way children can grow into independence is to have their parents open the door and let them walk out. That’s what makes camp such a life-changing experience for children.”