In light of the social and societal challenges that kids face, it is no wonder that parents are scrambling for ways to ensure their child's success as adults. Its encouraging to know the experiences that kids have at camp make them more resilient to life stress. Summer camp is a place of discovery which can have a life-long impact on a child’s development.
After all, there are not too many places where kids can explore carefully calculated challenges without a parent’s input.
“So which experiences, then, are most likely to make children resilient? The best camps do not provide cookie-cutter solutions to what kids need. Instead, great camps understand that the factors that make children resilient are cumulative. One experience contributes to others, expanding a child’s psychosocial resources exponentially.”
There are the simple challenges of conquering the mudslide, starting a campfire, and mastering a ropes course. Then there are the more complex challenges of learning how to ask for help from others, becoming a cabin team with a group of people you have never met, or having the influence to lead a group of peers for the first time. These skill-based and social-based learning experiences can introduce them to new ways of doing things and give them the confidence to handle new situations on their own. The “can-do” attitude is a trait many parents want to instill in their kids. However, this can only be achieved if they are faced with new challenges on their own.
At Camps Connect our three summer camps model how to support each other, to take risks (maybe even struggle or fail at something), but still strive to be the best we can as part of our camp philosophy. Countless experts have discussed the importance of resilience in children as they develop into healthy young adults. The best camping experiences offer these opportunities for manageable amounts of risk and responsibility. Being camp professionals, we know how important summer camp can be for a child’s social, emotional and behavioral growth. Michael Ungar, PhD wrote in the September/October 2012 issue of ACA’s Camping Magazine, “So which experiences, then, are most likely to make children resilient? The best camps do not provide cookie-cutter solutions to what kids need. Instead, great camps understand that the factors that make children resilient are cumulative. One experience contributes to others, expanding a child’s psychosocial resources exponentially.”
How do we provide support for our campers beyond the cookie cutter approach? We believe that one of the most important things we do at our camps is to build and increase self-esteem in each and every camper. We do this by taking the time to really get to know each of our campers right from the beginning. Relationship building is critical at camp, and our staff take the time top model that important skill with our campers. The biggest benefit of building those positive relationships between campers and staff are that the counselors know what each child needs to grow.
So what kinds of cumulative experiences do our Camps Connect facilities offer?
1) New relationships with peers and trusted adults other than their parents. Coming to camp means joining a close-knit community where everyone must agree to cooperate and respect each other. When they live in a cabin with others, kids share chores, resolve disagreements, and see firsthand the importance of sincere communication. Camp builds teamwork and trust.
2) A powerful identity in Christ. Understanding the Truth about their identity in Christ can help children know they are God's special creation, each with a purpose and a hope and many promises of God they can count on. Knowing and choosing to believe what God says about them can protect children from succumbing to depression, anxiety, peer pressure, fear, poor choices, and even suicide. In addition, it can help them fulfill their God-given potential and purpose.
3) Confidence in their talents and abilities. Your child may not be the best on the ropes course, the fastest swimmer, or the next teen idol when he sings, but our camp counselors are going to help your child find something to be proud of that he or she can do well because they have built relationships with adults they can trust.
4) Camps make sure that all children are treated fairly. When children come to our camps they can leave behind all the negative labels they may have at home or school. They are no longer the “nerd” “the poor student,” “always hyperactive,” or some who is measured up to their siblings. There is nothing as influential as being in a positive environment. Our staff are trained to not only to handle bullying issues if they arise, but how to create a positive atmosphere where children treat each other like they want to be treated. At camp they will find opportunities to just be kids who are valued for who they are.
5) At camp kids develop life-long skills. Ideally this is accomplished through fresh air, exercise, and a balance between routine and unstructured playtime. Our camps and competent staff provide the right instruction, equipment and facilities for kids to enhance their sports abilities, their artistic talents, and their adventure skills. The sheer variety of activities offered at our camps makes it easy for kids to discover and develop what they like to do with caring and supportive counselors by their side.
6) Camp offers kids a chance to feel like they belong. In today’s world although we are more connected than ever by modern technology we see kids lacking deep personal connections to others. Kids need help developing social bonds and learning interpersonal skills based on empathy and understanding. Our camps offer a culture of togetherness by engaging our campers in the camp community through small and large group play while helping them to develop healthy connections. Cabin chants and skits, name games, group songs, teamwork, and healthy doses of competition go a long way to offering children a sense of being accepted and rooted.
7) And finally, camp offers children a better sense of their culture as they participate with kids and staff who are culturally diverse. At our camps, kids and staff regularly share in activities such as stories, skits, or times of reflection that provide insight into the values of our Catholic community and their own cultural backgrounds. This gives kids a chance to understand themselves a bit more as they share their own culture and experience others.
At Camps Connect, our camps give children a combination of experiences that prepare them well for life. Our staff are trained to help children embrace these moments, both the struggles and triumphs to develop strength, acquire coping skills, learn how to navigate hardships, and have an anchor by which to face future challenges. This resiliency will help them succeed in life.
I think this perfectly describes what we do at Camps Connect each and every summer. It is our experience that this cumulative approach gives our campers many valuable tools to seek help should they need it, whether that is at camp or at home.
Camps Connect is a true collaboration between Catholic Youth Organization Camps and St. Vincent DePaul Camps. We provide summer camp for boys & girls, family camp, retreat and conference facilities, and outdoor education experiences on the scenic shores of Lake Huron, Michigan. A deep rooted faith and extraordinary service runs through every decision we make. And that philosophy has made a lasting impact in the lives of families and youth for over 90 years! Learn more at www.campsconnect.org
The Journey -About Us
THE JOURNEY journals our Camps Connect story. Camps Connect is a summer camp for boys, girls, and co-ed programs, a family
Invest in Camps Connect
Together we can change a child's life.
On life's journey it's nice to connect: Camps Connect!