The concept of summer camps is widely used and acknowledged in the US and in many parts of Europe whereas it is still not that common for parents here in the UK to send their children to one. The majority of summer camps in the US are activity camps, either day camps or residential, and many have different areas of speciality for different age groups, genders, interests, religions, academic/non-academic etc.
In the UK there are a lot of summer camps as well, but they mainly cater for foreign students as the majority of them are language schools/camps where children and teens go to learn English, and to explore a new country and culture. However, in recent years more summer camps for UK children and teens have started developing as well and the market is slowly increasing.
I absolutely love the idea of summer camps and I think it offers many benefits for both the parents as well as for the children.
Here is my list of benefits:
I think that the first and foremost benefit for both the child and the parents is the increased independence that the child will achieve from being away from home. This is due to the child having to adapt to a new environment, a new set of rules and perhaps doing things that they have not been used to at home (e.g. washing their own clothes, waking up in the morning, deciding when and if to shower, getting dressed appropriately for the day/evening/activity, making their own bed, tidying their room etc.)
2: Aquire new skills
At a summer camp there will be a lot of new activities, challenges and things that the child may never have tried before, and therefore the child will learn new skills and perhaps even develop new interests and hobbies. The skills can either be physical, mental or people skills. Furthermore, this is a great way to understand and explore one’s strengths/weaknesses and likes/dislikes for further use and knowledge in the future.
3: New friendships
Many of the kids who go to a summer camp will not know anyone else going, which may be a challenge for the child depending on how shy/outgoing he or she is and how good and fast he or she is at making new friends. However, due to the majority of children being in the same situation and camps offering a vast variety of activities, games etc. there will be no time before everyone is talking, having fun and having made friends for life.
4:Broaden your horizon
Another great thing about summer camps is that the children generally will be coming from a variety of different countries, cultures, and socio-economic backgrounds. This therefore means that the children will be exposed to a range of different people from not only around the country, but perhaps from around the world.
5: New experiences
All the above mentioned benefits will be a part of the new, challenging and exciting experiences that each of the children will be experiencing while at a summer camp. The first time a child is away from home in a new and unknown place with people that he or she does not know, will be a huge shock and perhaps a bit scary experience for most children. However, as pointed out in benefit number 1 (independence), the child will benefit from not only becoming more independent, but also a stronger and more confident person.
6: Increased confidence
This very much goes hand in hand with all of the above mentioned benefits as a child’s confidence will increase from being more independent, developing new skills, making new friends, meeting new people from around the world and furthermore being exposed to a host of new experiences.
Therefore, I think EVERY child should have the opportunity to go to at least one summer camp while they are children or teenagers as it will not only enhance their way of thinking, but also the way they deal with certain situations and people.
So, do yourself and your child the favour to go and explore the internet, magazines, newspapers, ask friends/family and find one that you both find suitable. And GO for it! Trust me, none of you will look back with regret although it might be hard for you both in the beginning (especially as the mom)!
Be well and have fun