Beaches, pools, light traffic and no tardy bell - summer is the best!
I have been lucky enough to cherish the extra time with my kids that summer affords, visiting libraries and museums large and small. Who even knew there was a fire truck museum or a printing museum? But as my children grow I always forfeit some of this special season to sleep away camp.
The benefits of camp go far beyond a simple vacation:
At camp kids get a smorgasbord of activities that would be near impossible to explore at home. As a kid, I loved riflery but hated archery. I would never have even known had it not been for camp.
As campers grow older, they can focus on the activities they enjoy most and eventually help teach the younger children. When I first sent my kids to camp, I was told that the camp had to do very little by way of researching their staff: most of the counselors were former campers. Now that my older kids are on staff, I know what they mean. The people who hired them have known them since they were just small, occasionally see my kids outside of camp, and definitely know their strengths and weaknesses.
When my daughter went off to college, I was certain she could operate without me at least for a time. She already had. The best camps offer children increasing independence with enough supervision to make sure that no one's about to go all Lord of the Flies.
The truly great thing about camp is that it encourages independence while supporting the parents' values. When my kids were in elementary school, I was a single parent. I relied heavily on my family and community to help me. Camp was part of that community, reinforcing the lessons I tried to teach my children at home. And every time I hear someone say that my son or daughter is a "good kid," I know that it is in part because their camp helped me raise them. Not only that, but camp makes the learning painless, fun even.
5) The great outdoors
At camp kids have the chance to explore the outdoors. Hiking, biking, swimming, or even boating or horseback riding might be on the agenda.
6) Community, Bonding, Lifelong friends.
Last year as I delivered my daughter to camp, we were all treated to a great surprise as one camp alumni proposed to another. Romantic interests aside, when my daughter visits new places, it is often her camp friends she looks up.
7) Time unplugged.
Time at camp allows kids relief from keeping up with their virtual world, be it friendly or dramatic. It fosters real life relationships. For some children, especially those who have had difficult online relationships, camp can be a welcome respite.
The point of it is, there are a myriad of benefits for kids to sleep away camp, and NONE of them involve giving mom and dad a chance to sleep in on the weekends and letting the kids get nagged by somebody else for a change (although there is definitely a great deal to be said for that aspect too). A carefully chosen camp can be one of the many parenting resources at your disposal!
(All photos courtesy of my very own camper and counselor Cassie Gonzales, who was given a great opportunity to explore photography at camp!)