photo: New York YMCA Camp/ Flickr
While old-fashioned camps are still out there, many of today’s parents are foregoing those long days of color wars and canoeing and instead opting for academic programs, sports camps or other camps that further specific skills. But if you’re the sort of parent that believes all a kid needs in the summer is free time, fresh air and a break from technology, you’re going to love this post from a California blogger.
“Indeed, every summer, my kids “miss out” on the specialized, résumé-building summers that their peers have,” she writes in an article published by The Washington Post, among other publications. “[But] We are consciously opting out of the things-to-put-on-the-college-application arms race and instead betting on three huge benefits of summer camp, which we believe will give them a true competitive advantage in life:
1. Building creativity.
2. Developing broadly as a human being.
3. Not-living-in-my-basement-as-an-adult independence.”
She goes on to reference a letter published by William Fitzsimmons, the dean of admissions at Harvard, who said that parents need to “bring summer back.”
“What can be negative is when people lose sight of the fact that it’s important to develop broadly as a human being, as opposed to being an achievement machine,” Fitzsimmons wrote. “In the end, people will do much better reflecting, perhaps through some down time, in the summer.”
Studies over the past decade have shown outdoor programs stimulate the development of interpersonal competencies, enhance leadership skills and have positive effects on adolescents’ sense of empowerment, self-control, independence, self-understanding, assertiveness, decision-making skills, self-esteem, leadership, academics, personality and interpersonal relations, according to Clydesdale. Overnight camps have also been shown to improve children’s social skills, while experts say it can also up their resilience.
“I am letting my children walk out the door and make useless lanyards for two months,” Clydesdale writes. “They might not have anything ‘constructive’ to place on their college application, but they will reflect, unwind, think and laugh. They will explore, perform skits they wrote themselves and make those endless friendship bracelets to tie onto the wrists of lifelong friends. The result will be that when they come back through our door, we’re pretty sure that, in addition to having gobs of creativity and independence, they’ll be more comfortable with who they are as people.”
photo: New York YMCA Camp via Flickr
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