Summer camp is a good experience for kids of all ages and especially teenagers. The reasons teenagers should attend camp range from social/emotional benefits to practical skills and physical activity.
Kids between the ages of 13 – 18 are on their way toward adulthood. They will begin making more decisions for themselves. As they go along, teenagers learn to live with the consequences of those decisions. Therefore, a healthy camp experience grows specific attributes that helps guide them on that journey.
Summer camp is a safe environment in which they can learn, grow, take risks and benefit from the results. Here are five of the best reasons teenagers should attend camp:
Exposure to more role models
Parents and other full time caregivers are the most important people in a child’s life. That’s why the dinner table is such a powerful influence over the family. As children grow, they look for and need other adult input as well. For example, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and teachers can open up entire worlds for kids – to name just a few influencers.
At camp, instructors and counselors often play this important role for their campers.
Typical instructors and counselors are college students, recent college graduates and other twenty-somethings. They’re older but still relatable. They model effective communication styles, maturity, wisdom and ways to maneuver successfully in an adult world. At the same time, they often share the same pop culture references, music interests and trends of teenage campers.
Instructors can also listen to teenage campers and easily understand their concerns. Since they aren’t so far removed from that age group themselves, instructors can seem approachable. Teenagers open up more and are receptive to feedback in a way they reject from older influencers.
A Healthy Environment
Teenagers become more body-aware as they move through puberty. Their bodies are changing in ways they don’t always understand. Meanwhile, social media, movies, videos and their peers send them millions of messages to look a certain way. These messages can be overt or subtle – and not always positive.
Camp provides a healthy environment. It counters what can sometimes be construed as negative feedback. Camp does this by promoting a philosophy that’s about staying fit and building healthy habits.
Even in camps not solely focused on athletics, routine physical activities get kids up and moving. Boys and girls aren’t sitting in front of a desk or lying on a couch for hours during the day. They walk, work with their hands, and play games. They’re laughing, socializing and getting outside. Campers stay active in a variety of ways depending on the type of camp they’re attending.
This movement helps them understand that while sports and athletics are important, kids can be active anytime.
Learn new skills and perfect current ones
Some of the top skills older kids learn at camp include: social (verbal/nonverbal communication styles), practical (STEM, arts and sports fundamentals) and emotional (empathy for others.)
- Social: Camp is about spending long days with peers. Many campers meet kids from different schools or backgrounds. Exposure to diversity teaches teenagers how to communicate in new ways, and to do so effectively. This includes facial expressions, slang, and body language. In short, broadening one’s communication means more tools in their toolbox when expressing themselves or understanding others.
- Practical: Camps dedicated to specific subjects give participants needed time to either learn something new or build upon current skills. In sports camps, that means drills, practice, training and playing tournaments. In STEM camps, teenagers attend coding classes, create video games or build robots. And in arts camps, young actors rehearse plays and create original works of art.
- Emotional: When teenagers join forces, working hard together to win a game, perform or problem-solve, they can sometimes struggle. Campers work hard together to get something done. This creates empathy and allows them to better understand each person’s unique strengths and challenges. This increased awareness means making, and keeping, more friends as they move through high school and beyond.
They say if teenagers were as sweet and cuddly as when they were babies, parents would never let them leave the house. Older kids assert themselves, sometimes loudly, for a reason: they want a life more on their own terms.
Camp can help them spread their wings and get ready to fly. They do this while, at the same time, in a safe environment with supervision.
Long days, and sometimes nights, are spent away from home where they must advocate for themselves. They cannot rely on their parents to talk for them or explain things to counselors. The more experience teenagers have in finding and using their own voices, the more they trust themselves. The sooner they start, the more successful they’ll be self-advocating for any number of reasons.
Sometimes camp is their first experience in this realm of near-adulthood, but it won’t be their last.
A Variety of New Activities
Summer camp is often the best place for teenagers to try new things.They have more free time and don’t have to balance school, part-time jobs, extracurricular activities or other responsibilities. What should they do with all these extra hours?
Also, for perhaps the first time, their parents aren’t choosing activities for them. They have a host of options and campers must decide for themselves what interests them.
Choices might include what they’ve enjoyed since childhood, something they’ve wanted to improve but didn’t have the time. Or it might be a brand new skill or sport, an activity they can try without scrutiny or pressure. Sometimes they might choose a combination of the two.
At any rate, at summer camp teenagers get to do a bunch of fun stuff. They think about what they want to do. They ask themselves, “What sounds good to me?”
This is their time.
In short, summer camp provides many benefits and opportunities for growth. Especially for teenagers. All in a safe and supervised environment. These are just a few of the many reasons teenagers should attend camp.
Benefits help to prepare campers for tomorrow with plenty of fun and memory making today.
KidzToPros offers onsite summer camps for teenagers ages 14 to 18 in San Francisco, Los Angeles (San Gabriel Valley), Los Angeles (San Fernando Valley), San Diego, Denver, Dallas, Houston, Chicago and New Jersey.