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Sonoma Family Life Magazine

Free to Grow

Mar 31, 2019 12:00AM

By Sandi Schwartz

We all want our children to be happy and successful. A child can only truly grow if given some freedom and the chance to gain confidence by exploring new ideas and activities. What better place for children to begin this process than at sleepaway camp?

Sending children away for camp may seem daunting at first, but if you ask kids who have spent several weeks bunking with their friends, they will tell you how it has positively transformed their lives. The many gifts of sleep-away camp include:

Sending children away for camp may seem daunting at first, but if you ask kids who have spent several weeks bunking with their friends, they will tell you how it has positively transformed their lives. The many gifts of sleepaway camp include:

Confidence

Camp provides ways for children to feel a sense of accomplishment as they learn new skills and contribute to the community. When they succeed at a task, they are empowered and have more confidence when faced with the next challenge. They also learn from their mistakes and failures, which only makes them more resilient in the future. Some camp experiences, whether learning to swim in a lake or climb a ropes course, even allow kids to conquer their fears.

Broader Perspective

At camp, children begin to see the world and themselves a bit differently. They are away from their comfort zones and exposed to new experiences and people that give them a broader perspective. They realize that they are part of something bigger than themselves and their immediate families. They may participate in community service projects that they would have not otherwise had the chance to do.

Community

Sleepaway camp gives kids a sense of belonging, which will ultimately improve their ability to cooperate, contribute, and serve their future communities as caring citizens. Campers also gain new social skills from being in a group setting. They must share a room with others, manage chores, resolve conflicts, communicate effectively, and be kind and accommodating to their fellow campers. Being part of a close-knit community can be challenging at times, but children who learn how to adapt and get along with others will benefit for a lifetime.

Skills

Sleepaway camp is chock full of unique activities and events that children can’t find anywhere else. Going to camp allows them to learn new skills, whether in sports, art, or outdoor exploration. Exposure to so many new programs enhances children’s knowledge and capabilities, allowing them to get closer to finding what they enjoy most.

Camp also helps children become more independent. They learn how to make their own decisions without parents and teachers always telling them what to do. They are expected to manage daily chores, show up on time to activities, and keep their belongings neat and clean. These are life-long skills that will help them succeed in whatever they do.

Self-Reflection

The school year is a busy time, but camp provides a chance for kids to slow down and listen to their own thoughts. Camp is the perfect environment for self-reflection and meditation. When kids take a break from television, video games, texting, and surfing online, they become more mindful of their surroundings and their own emotions. They are able to focus on the simple things in life, such as going for a hike, watching a sunset, singing around a campfire, and talking in depth with their friends. This change of pace can lead to emotional and spiritual growth. 

Sandi Schwartz is a freelance writer/blogger and mother of two. Find her at happysciencemom.com and sandischwartz.com.