Why Summer Camp Is More Important Than Ever
Summer camps in California offer beautiful backdrops for summer memories. In pre-pandemic “normal” times, the benefits of summer camp were well known: a place to build 21st century life skills while also exercising the muscles needed for healthy independence, resilience and courage. But, as young kids and teens navigated pandemic life behind a screen and without their friends, summer camp is one avenue for helping them regain skills they may have lost – or not even had the opportunity to build – over the last two years.
Overnight summer camps are important for all of the same reasons they always have been; but, some of summer camps core benefits are more important today than ever, including life skills, such as making and keeping friends, feeling connected, being part of a community and overall well-being.
Friend-making and Friend-keeping Skills
Summer camp has always been a place to make friends and build healthy relationships. Learning to make friends is an even higher priority for kids today and an essential piece to well being. Young kids and teens have had to navigate life in a pandemic. Summer camps provide all of the pieces for campers to build these healthy peer relationships. Kids are accessible and there are the right kind of boundaries in place around them to help guard and guide kind behavior.
“Friend-making” skills are about making a connection, finding something in common with each other and then sharing an experience together. “Friend-keeping” skills include collaboration, being empathetic to someone else’s opinion, saying I’m sorry and working it out. Friendship skills help kids develop a sense of belonging, feel part of a community, unconditionally loved and their worth as a human being.
With kids at home during the past two years, kids have lost some confidence around being independent. Parents not wanting to put more pressure on their kids may have let some boundaries, rules and discipline go during the pandemic. At overnight summer camps, children are reminded that they are part of a larger community where working together is important.
Campers practice appropriate and healthy independence in safe and nurturing settings. They get to make more of their own choices, problem-solve, try new things, explore their talents, interests and values. Camp is full of opportunities for kids to try bigger and braver things, which in turn builds the muscle of self-esteem.
Christian camps continues to be a place where kids can explore and discover a relational faith in God within a meaningful community all around them. Wonder is at the core of a camper’s faith development.
As campers grow and absorb the wide world around them, they have the stunning ability to be interruptible, happily caught off guard by curiosity, awe and delight. Cultivating faith in kids requires all of us to slow down enough to notice and consider all that God has to offer us.
Overnight summer camps provide room for campers to be happily interrupted. Whether it be the discovery of a seashell to the pristine beauty of Yosemite Valley in California. Wonder builds muscles of attentiveness to all of God’s creative expressions in nature and one another, in fun camp songs and silliness, to newfound reliable friends, to questions and awe under starlit skies, or nurturing conversations with counselors who listen intently to thoughts, doubts, and joys around faith and trust in God.
YSSC counselors are trained to listen, engage in dialog and wait for responses. YSSC counselors communicate value through full attentiveness. And at the end of the day, YSSC shares stories of meaningful things that campers said or did as they close out their day. All of this through the art of attentiveness and listening that shapes a child’s or teen’s life forever.
In short, summer camp at YSSC gives the space for campers to understand that they are deeply valued by God simply for who they are, not for what they have or what they do…and this is the wonder of all wonders. Discover more about YSSC here.