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Summer Camp – A Vital Piece of Developing Well-rounded Youth

With spring within grasp and summer right around the corner, many families are starting to work on their plans for summer break. Many parents choose to send their child(ren) to summer camp, while others at least consider it. Most parents “on the fence” in regard to this decision struggle with what they DON’T know about summer camp; what will my child experience? Will my child make friends? Will my child be confident enough to spend time away from home? These are fair questions that many parents ask and by doing a little research can hopefully be answered.

Summer camp provides short and long-term benefits which build character and develop life skills that will be carried through adulthood. Some of these include:

  1. Positive Role Models – How many of us have that “cool camp counselor” that we fondly remember from our camp years? Studies show that when youth have positive interactions with adults, they are more likely to thrive in many aspects of their life, including school. When adults are in a position of being a role model to youth, especially teens and tweens, youth will have more self-esteem, will be more confident, and will develop better decision-making and problem-solving skills.
  2. Exercise, Outdoor Time, and Less Screen Time – Thanks to phones, tablets, and constant streaming services, sedentary lifestyle has been a huge contributor of childhood obesity and sets the stage for many diseases and disabilities that will carry through to adulthood. Many summer camps do not allow phone use during most of the camp activities. Many camp schedules have plenty of activities that naturally infuse physical activity including sports, swimming, hiking, playing games, and more. Plus, the majority of these activities occur outdoors which gives youth the opportunity to get fresh air, have sunlight on their face, have space to move, and see and experience things from a whole new perspective.
  3. Making Friends and Socialization – Summer is a difficult time for youth to maintain friendships with peers since they are not in school. One of the best ways for youth to develop and practice social skills, learn about sharing and setting boundaries, teach teamwork, and develop problem-solving and decision-making skills, is by making friends at summer camp! These friendships connect kids by shared age, interests, experiences, and other commonalities.
  4. Growth and Learning – Many summer camps offer a specific theme or focus such as science camp, art camp, sports camp, nature camp, etc. These are a great opportunity for youth to be challenged and gain new knowledge. This knowledge is something that might not be acquired at home or in school. These camps help youth explore new interests that potentially may lead to new hobbies or career choices or even spark a new passion for them to further dive into later in life. Themed summer camps also build self-confidence, self-awareness, and a capacity for a desire to learn more.
  5. A Lifetime of Memories – Many adults have great memories of days and weeks spent at summer camp basking in the sun, talking with friends, making s’mores, and just being silly and having the freedom to act like a “kid”. Unfortunately, due to advances in technology, many youth become reclusive with their devices, not making those connections, and not living those experiences. As parents and adult mentors, we should encourage them to experience a few hours, days, or even weeks of a summer camp. Your child might miss their phone, their pet, their family, and their gaming system, however after some time spent exploring and learning with new peers that share similar interests, they will certainly gain new life skills and will have a blast while doing so!

From youth organizations to parks and recreation departments, nature centers, and sports facilities there are many great choices of summer camp options in and around the KC Metro area. Right here in Kansas is a wonderful overnight camp and retreat center in the Flint Hills tallgrass prairie of Kansas. Rock Springs Ranch, in Junction City, has provided summer camp opportunities for youth and 4-H’ers for over 75 years! For information on Rock Springs Ranch 4-H Summer Camps, please visit https://www.rockspringsranch4hcamp.org/. RSR also offers Counselor-in-Training and Leadership-in-Training summer camp  for teenagers as well as Family Camps!