Allowing kids to play in an unstructured, natural atmosphere is a valuable component in any camp program.
According to Tom Jacobs' article, The Value of Unstructured Playtime for Kids, "Free play allows children to develop the flexibility needed to adapt to changing circumstances and environments—an ability that comes in very handy when life becomes unpredictable as an adult."
Free unstructured play helps children build a wide range of skills necessary for success in school and out, from making friends and negotiating to problem solving, thinking creatively, and practicing self control. Parents that send their kids to camp are take a solid step to ensure that they have plenty of time to get out there and play, especially during the more leisurely summer months.
Here's How We Do it at Camps Connect
What Kids Can Learn
The advantages your child gains from play may seem a mystery when he's tearing through the yard with sticks in hand, but he's growing in mind, body, and spirit by leaps and bounds:
Character virtues. Children develop a unique sense of resiliency from being creative. While finishing a stick tower, for example, they may encounter a moment when the tower refuses to stand. It may even topple a few times. By trying again and again, kids learn about perseverance and gain courage and confidence in their own problem-solving abilities.
Social skills. Research shows that make-believe games provide kids with opportunities to learn about group dynamics. Give kids of almost any age a ball and a few miscellaneous objects for instance, and they'll create their own game, and in the process hone their ability to collaborate, cooperate, lead, empathize, and control impulses.
Physical development. Babies learn how to crawl, to stand, and eventually to walk. You watched your preschooler figure out how to hang from the first rung on the monkey bars (with perhaps a boost from you), and then work his way on his own to the second rung and the third, and so on, as he also builds up his physical development with strength, coordination, competence, and sense of body awareness in space. Given the space and time of free-play in a camp environment children hone those large and fine motor skills while sifting through sand for seashells, practice shooting hoops, or blowing bubbles.
Self-discovery. Kids need time to be kids — to write, think, dream, draw, build, dance, fantasize. That's how they discover their likes and dislikes. Be sure to allow your child this special kid time.
Creativity. Above all, creative play is a simple joy that is a cherished part childhood. Creativity in adults is highly valued in our society. Personal creativity contributes to inventiveness, innovation, social and cultural change. The creative child is an innovator, a problem solver, an entrepreneur, an artist. Allowing children the opportunity for creativity help them to achieve their life goals as adults and teach them to enjoy the journey. After all, where else can you be the mud queen?
To learn more about our summer camp, outdoor education programs, and rental opportunities visit us 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
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