Learning for life at camp

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Confident camper: The American Camp Association (ACA) identifies the four Cs of the camp community: compassion, contribution, commitment and character. The pleasure that comes from days spent outdoors engaging in active play and team building fosters these personal competencies. | SUPPLIED PHOTO

As parents, the greatest investment we can make is in our children. We work hard to ensure that they have all that they need as we prepare them for a healthy and successful future. The window to make this investment is fleeting and we must act with deliberation and swiftness to give our children all the skills necessary for their journey into adulthood.

Academic preparation is certainly a crucial part of what we want our children to obtain. Hobbies and interests such as sports skills and musical ability are also important elements to further our children’s development. Yet, even if our children are completely prepared in the areas of reading, writing, mathematics, athletics and the arts, they are still missing crucial components that we, as parents, must ensure they receive. As we prepare to send them into the future, we have an obligation to develop their spirit, their character, their resiliency and their independence, so they can utilize each piece of knowledge to live a life of fulfillment and integrity.

A great camp provides a unique opportunity for children to develop these crucial life skills. Because camp is a natural environment created entirely with the needs of children in mind, it is a completely safe setting, both emotionally and physically. The best camps are filled with caring and passionate counselors, specialists and adult leaders who make sure that campers feel accepted, loved, included and capable. In this supportive setting, children can stretch beyond their comfort zone and take healthy risks in a place where they are set up to be successful.

Participating in a well-organized camp program gives children an exceptional chance to widen their horizons, create new and lasting friendships and discover their strengths. Along with teaching valuable skills like how to swim or hit a baseball, the real heart of what camp teaches is how to be a fully developed person. When children attend camp, they learn how to make friends and how to be a friend. They build their responsibility, self-esteem and resilience and they develop an appreciation for the natural environment.

The social and emotional benefits of camp are significant and lasting. Parents who send their children to camp report that they come home transformed: filled with joy and overflowing with confidence. The American Camp Association (ACA) identifies the four Cs of the camp community: compassion, contribution, commitment and character. The fun and pleasure that comes from days spent outdoors engaging in active play and team building fosters these personal competencies that stay with campers throughout their lives.

We all want to give our children the world. What we really should focus on giving them are the tools needed to venture successfully into that world. We must take the utmost care and consideration in preparing them for the future. By making a strong investment in our children, we can give them the skills and experiences that create a fully realized person and set them on course for an amazing journey into adulthood.