I never remember wanting to go to summer camp. Maybe it’s because my experience with our park district day camp was pretty negative, (full of bigger kids bullying me) and once I told my mom, I never went back.
So when my kids started begging me to go to summer camp, I was really hesitant.
I knew there were benefits of summer camp, but I didn’t want them to have the same experience that I had. Plus camp can be an investment and I wasn’t sure they truly wanted to go, or if it was one of those things that they said they wanted to do but would forget about it a few days later.
I waited it out, but after they continued to hound me about going, and finding an affordable camp that my best friends’ kids went to, I decided to let them go.
Camp has been a very different experience for them and I’m actually really happy that they’re going.
They’re learning so many great skills, meeting so many new people, and creating long-lasting memories!
If you’re on the fence about whether or not your kid should go, these are some of the great benefits of summer camp!
19 Benefits of Summer Camp
Learning and Cognitive Development
Depending on which type of summer camp you choose, they have lots of activities designed to enrich your child’s academic experience.
Through these activities, your child can explore subjects outside of school, which helps them nurture new skills and develop existing ones.
These hands-on experiences can create lasting memories and inspire a love for learning.
Cognitive skills are crucial for a child’s overall development, and attending summer camps can have a positive impact on your child’s growth.
By participating in various activities and interacting with other kids, your child will learn to think critically, which will help them in school and in their personal growth (source).
One of the most important life skills your child can acquire is the ability to solve problems.
This can often be a difficult skill for kids to develop. I think this is often seen at home because kids rely on their parents to solve problems for them, (and even the most well-meaning parents may for the sake of time or some peace and quiet, problem solve for their kids).
When your kids are at summer camp, they have to develop their problem-solving abilities.
This may be through the activities they have, using teamwork, or dealing with other kids they may not get along with.
These camp experiences encourage children to overcome challenges and adapt to different situations, making them more resilient and better equipped to tackle future problems.
Another unique aspect of summer camps is their potential to teach entrepreneurship.
Children participating in camps might engage in projects that involve creating products, planning events, or learning about marketing.
This exposure to various elements of entrepreneurship can help kids develop their insight related to business and leadership skills (source).
The summer slide is a real fear for many parents. You don’t want your kids’ forgetting everything they’ve learned over the last school year.
During the break, it’s essential to keep your child’s mind active and stimulated. Summer camps have a plethora of mentally engaging activities- from challenging games and puzzles to science experiments and creative arts.
These activities ensure that children continue to learn and grow even when schools are out, making summer camps an excellent investment in your child’s development.
Social and Emotional Growth
Summer camps provide a fantastic opportunity for your children to make new connections and forge lasting friendships.
Camp is a great way for your kids to meet other people they wouldn’t have met otherwise!
My son who is normally pretty reserved, was initially nervous about going to camp because he wouldn’t know anyone and he didn’t know if he would make any friends.
He ended up meeting another kid his age who loves most of the same things he does, and now he looks forward to camp because of this new friend who he would never have met if it weren’t for camp!
Your kids can also bond with their peers while enjoying various fun activities together.
In this supportive environment, your kids can explore their interests and develop a sense of belonging in their newfound circle of friends.
Developing Social Skills
At camp, social skills are nurtured through a variety of group activities and interactions with others.
Your kids will learn essential life skills like sharing, taking turns, listening, empathy, and respecting different opinions.
These valuable experiences will help them become more confident and well-rounded individuals in their everyday lives.
Teamwork and Leadership
Working together as a team is a crucial aspect of most summer camp activities.
Your kids will have the chance to collaborate with their peers, solve problems together, and learn the importance of working together.
They’ll also get the opportunity to step up as a leader within their group which fosters a sense of responsibility and accountability.
Effective communication is another essential skill your kids will learn when participating in various camp activities.
Your kids will be exposed to situations where they have to express themselves clearly and listen actively to their peers and camp staff.
This practice will help enhance their verbal and non-verbal communication skills significantly.
One of the most important aspects of personal growth at summer camp is emotional resilience.
Camps provide a safe space for your kids to face challenges, overcome fears, and adapt to new experiences.
Through these processes, they’ll learn to manage their emotions and cope with setbacks in a healthy and constructive manner.
Remember, summer camps are not only a source of fun and adventure for your children but also an opportunity for them to grow socially and emotionally, creating lasting memories and building essential life skills.
Encourage your kids to embrace every aspect of camp life and watch them flourish as individuals!
Related: How to help your child handle anger
Physical and Recreational Activities
With 4 kids, I’m stretched thin and can’t always do outdoor stuff as much as my kids would like. I love that camp gets my kids outside all day and off screens!
There’s lots of outdoor activities your kids can participate in at summer camp, like hiking, scavenger hunts, rock climbing, sports and more.
These activities not only help them stay active, but also sharpen their problem-solving and teamwork skills.
Related: Favorite Summer Activities For Kids
Sports and Fitness
Summer camp is an excellent opportunity for your child to engage in various sports and fitness activities.
Sports can be very costly and require a lot of time and you don’t want to sign your kid up for a new sport if you’re not sure if they want to stick with it.
Camp can be a great place for your kids to try out new sports to see if they like it without investing a lot of extra money and time into it.
Some sports your kid can play at camp are soccer, basketball, baseball, football, or tennis.
These activities promote a healthy lifestyle and teach them the importance of sportsmanship and teamwork.
Swimming and Water Activities
Many summer camps offer swimming and water activities, such as diving, water polo, or canoeing.
Swimming helps your kids stay physically active while also promoting water safety and confidence.
I personally feel like every child should know how to swim because you never know when that could save your life, so I view this as a necessary life skill for my kids.
However I have four kids, and swim lessons are expensive for just one day a week! Plus it’s impossible to find classes that are either at the same time, or back to back.
This means during the rest of the year we aren’t able to do swim lessons.
But during summer camp, the lessons are at the same time daily, (big kids in the afternoon, little kids in the morning) so I’m not stretched too thin, and since it’s a part of camp I’m not paying extra for the lessons!
It’s my favorite activity that’s offered in camp!
Arts and Crafts
For the kids who don’t love lots of physical activity, many summer camps also offer a variety of arts and crafts.
They can explore their creative side with things like pottery, painting, making jewelry, or woodworking.
Participating in these activities allows them to express themselves while developing fine motor skills and artistic talents.
Another benefit of summer camp is that your child can explore nature. (This is my son’s favorite part of camp!)
Some nature activities your child may experience during camp are bird watching, identifying plants, collecting materials found in nature for art projects, or bug watching/identification.
These meaningful experiences foster your child’s connection to and appreciation for nature.
Personal Growth and Independence
Self-Esteem and Confidence
Summer camp provides an ideal environment for your child to explore new interests and face challenges that help boost their self-esteem and confidence.
They’ll make new friendships and share experiences with people from different backgrounds.
As your kid learns new skills and achieves goals, they’ll learn they’re competent and capable, which positively affects their self-confidence.
Responsibility and Commitment
At camp your child will need to take care of their belongings, manage their time, and follow rules which helps them learn about responsibility and commitment.
I’ve found that when I’m not there reminding my kids every few minutes to not forget their towel for swim class, or remember to grab their water bottle, they take greater accountability for their things. They take it upon themselves to remember what they need as they move from activity to activity.
Your kid will work as a part of a team, and they’ll have to be accountable for their actions.
The camp environment encourages personal growth while fostering independence and self-reliance, vital skills for your child’s future success!
Summer camp promotes character building through activities that require communication, teamwork, and problem-solving.
Interacting with a diverse group of peers and dealing with conflicts will teach your child empathy, patience, and respect for others.
These experiences will ultimately shape your child’s character and make them a better person.
Finally, attending summer camp can help reduce anxiety by providing a supportive environment where your child can face their fears and worries with the help of trained staff and fellow campers.
Maybe your child is anxious about meeting new people, going swimming, playing sports, etc.
Engaging in fun and adventurous activities encourages your kid to push their boundaries, while the natural setting can promote relaxation and stress relief.
This combination of being with supportive people and in nature, contributes to an overall reduction in anxiety and promotes better mental health.
Types of Summer Camps
Day camps are a great option for parents who want to introduce their children to the summer camp experience in a more familiar environment, (like a park district).
These camps typically run from morning to late afternoon, offering a variety of activities for your child.
With activities ranging from arts and crafts to group activities and science experiments, day camps encourage your child to explore new subjects and socialize with their peers.
This type of camp can also help limit screen time during the summer while still fitting into your busy schedule.
Sleep away Camps
If your child is ready for a more immersive experience, you may want to enroll them in a residential, or sleep away camp.
These camps not only offer the chance to learn new things and participate in exciting group activities, they also help develop independence and responsibility as your child stays away from home.
Check out overnight camps with values that align with your family, and make sure you understand the level of supervision and care provided for your child’s safety and well-being.
Special Interest Camps
Do you want to spark your child’s passion in a specific area? Special interest camps cater to particular interests and hobbies, such as music, sports, art, or outdoor adventures.
These camps provide an opportunity for children to dive deep into their favorite subjects, develop new skills, and connect with other kids who share their interests.
When you choose a camp that is solely focused on your child’s interest, a huge benefit is that you know your child is going to be excited and they’ll love going.
Cultural and Historical Camps
Cultural and historical camps offer unique learning experiences that connect kids to the world around them.
These camps often involve trips to historical sites, hands-on activities, and exploring different cultures from a local and worldwide point of view.
By participating in these activities, your child has the opportunity to develop an appreciation for history and diversity, allowing them to grow in understanding and respect for other cultures.
Choosing the Right Summer Camp
Assessing Your Child’s Interests and Goals
When you’re choosing a summer camp for your child, it’s important to consider their interests, goals, and readiness.
Talk with your child about what they’d like to do during the summer.
Do they want to go to a sleep away camp or are they good with a day camp?
Identifying their interests will help you find a camp that they’ll be excited to go to while also developing social, emotional, and cognitive skills.
American Camp Association Accreditation
Look for camps with American Camp Association (ACA) accreditation. This ensures that the camp complies with industry-accepted standards for safety, health, and program quality.
ACA-accredited camps show a commitment to character development, problem-solving, and fostering respect among campers.
Camp Safety Standards
Ensuring your child’s safety is essential when choosing a summer camp.
Investigate the camp’s safety protocols, emergency procedures, and the training of its staff members.
Inclusivity and Environment
As you research camps, consider their approach to inclusivity and how they create a supportive environment for campers.
Look at how they handle issues like anxiety and how they create a safe space for children to learn, share, and grow.
Understanding the camp’s culture and values can help you determine if it’s a good fit for your child.
The benefits of summer camp are vast and if you’ve been thinking about having your child go, I hope this helped you see the immense value that summer camp can bring to your child’s life.
I’m so glad I let go of my bad camp experience and allowed my kids to go to camp. I know they’ll learn a lot, problem-solve, and also enjoy a summer full of nature, sports, swimming, group activities, and leadership opportunities!