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Sonoma Family Life Magazine

7 Things Camp Teaches Teens

By Kerrie McLoughlin

Summer camp is often a place to send elementary-
age kids so they aren’t sitting around the house bored. But camp is an important opportunity for teens, too. Here’s what they might experience.

1. Giving back. Community service camps offer a great chance for your teen to make a difference while also acquiring skills that will carry them through their lives. In these programs, kids get to spend their days helping others, which just feels good to everyone involved. Maybe your teen will pack food for the homeless, teach kids how to read, or clean up a playground. They could even learn how to paint a house, care for a yard of an elderly person, or plan and build a home for someone who is in need.

2. Making new friends. Adding new friends to one’s life is enriching at any age. Some teens attend the same camps every summer and see the same friends every year while other kids are attending camps for the first time and need to learn to connect with new people. Whatever the situation, creating and maintaining friendships requires kids to develop social skills.

3. Learning new things. Whether your teens attend a camp to learn more about horses, a specific sport like soccer, or a skill like a foreign language, they have an entire day, week, or longer to focus on that one activity and really immerse themselves in it. Who knows? A summer interest could turn into a lifelong passion that inspires a vocation or avocation down the road.

4. Working as a team. Your child will be meeting kids of different ages and backgrounds. Learning how to get along and work as a team is a huge life skill that will be reinforced at camp. Some camps even have kids do team- and trust-building activities to help kids get to know each other.

5. Staying active. Kids need to unplug from the various screens that demand their attention—TVs, video game players, smartphones, etc.—and engage their bodies. Camps, especially sports-oriented camps, give them a chance to do just that.

6. Living without you. Let’s face it: As our kids get older they start to grow away from us. They are simply preparing to head out on their own, and going away to camp cultivates their emerging sense of independence. The daily structure of camp helps kids to become responsible while relationships with camp staff teach them to respect and learn from adults who aren’t their parents.

7. Appreciating everything. When kids spend time away from their parents, they come home with a new appreciation of what it takes to be in a family. Your teens will probably also appreciate funny things like a full pantry that’s open all day, their comfy beds, and privacy. 

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