How did you plan your child’s summer calendar last year?
What most parents do when they plan summer camp is book a different program for each week of the summer. Booking lots of different programs is the best way to keep your kid busy and happy for the whole summer, right?
Maybe… maybe not.
The truth is, bouncing your child from place to place may provide much in the way of novelty, but doesn’t allow the most important, lasting benefits of summer camp to take root. Social connection takes time. Self-confidence is not built in a week. For most kids, it takes a good portion of the first week just to become accustomed to the people, surroundings, and the routine of a new place. For children who have more difficulty adapting to new situations, changing camp every week can be downright stressful.
According to studies completed by the Canadian Camping Association, a camper’s self-confidence and emotional intelligence increase in relation to the length of time they spend at a single camp – whether that is from session to session, or from summer to summer.
It’s not until your child has gotten settled, and has made connections with their cabinmates and counsellors, that they feel comfortable enough to try new things and take healthy risks. Would you like them to continue in this comfortable environment long enough to increase their confidence? Of course you would. The alternative is to immediately bounce off to the next thing, and start over somewhere else.
Of course I understand that not everyone is able to send their kids to camp for the entire summer. But if you are being strategic about when and where your kids will attend, you can maximize the benefits of their experience.
In a world full of social media and instant gratification, summer camp is a place where deep, lasting connections are still possible. The best way to foster those connections is to give them ample time to grow.