Posted  | by Lucy Norvell, Director of Development & Communications |

Most schoolchildren and the folks who teach them have returned to the classroom now that Labor Day is in the rearview mirror. This is a great moment to remember how highly educational camp experiences can be! Parents and teachers are always the first to notice. From the time courageous and forward-thinking educators created what has grown to become  a world-wide camp movement here in New England a century and a half ago, they knew that something was lacking in children’s overall education. Very intentionally, they explored what the “missing” something seemed to be by examining how they and students’ families educated and raised children.  

And then they invented “camp” to reinforce and enhance those lessons from home and school.

Those lucky campers who hiked and adventured along Connecticut’s Long Island Sound spent most of their time in the out-of-doors learning. With lots to discover about themselves and about being a member of a group, these were the first of millions of children to benefit from the experiential education that day and overnight camps uniquely provide.

Just like those first-ever campers, children today benefit from camp experiences that complement and reinforce their school year learning in school and home settings. It turns out that camp experiences can play a major role in children’s overall development, sometimes filling in where schools and families are unable to provide opportunities and other times reinforcing lessons teachers and parents have already delivered.

The century as turned twice since camps started contributing to children’s overall optimal development. Educational philosophies have come and gone. Many have endured. What’s clear is that camps are positioned to contribute significantly to children’s optimal development. And coming from decades of time where camp learning has been seriously undervalued, we’re proud to show how camp environments and camp curricula measure up right now—today! 

Several articles on child education and child well-being have been published in recent months—articles for parents, academic publications and pieces in the popular press detail what children need in order to thrive. 

We hope you see what we see!
Day and overnight camps cater to the well-being of campers and the adults who work with them in such important ways by: 

  1. HELPING DEVELOP HEALTHY HABITS THAT MEET PHYSICAL NEEDS
    Such as getting the right food, exercise and sleep
     http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-08-27/nature-play-important-for-physical-and-mental-health/7791458
  2. ENHANCING MENTAL HEALTH
    Through access to nature, reduced screen time & less stress
    https://www.fatherly.com/activities/richard-louv-talks-about-how-to-cure-nature-deficit-disorder-in-last-c/
  3. CREATING SOCIAL/EMOTIONAL LEARNING OPS
    That build resilience, gumption, grit, among others
    https://ww2.kqed.org/mindshift/2016/05/31/why-emotions-are-integral-to-learning/
  4. FOSTERING INDEPENDENCE/AGENCY/SELF-EFFICACY
    Through group and individual decision-making & real world applications for lessons learned
    http://www.workingmother.com/blogs/modern-working-mom/summer-camp-education
  5. BUILDING 21st CENTURY LEARNING & INNOVATION SKILLS
    Critical thinking, communication, collaboration, & creativity
    http://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2016/07/05/481582529/how-to-raise-brilliant-children-according-to-science
  6. WEAVING IN LESSONS THAT BUILD ACADEMIC KNOWLEDGE
    Through play and by delivering environmental education, literacy, numeracy, STEM/STEAM, and many other formally academic curricula
    https://ww2.kqed.org/mindshift/2014/08/07/how-play-wires-kids-brains-for-social-and-academic-success/ 
  7. TEACHING VALUES & DELIVERING CHARACTER EDUCATION
    Camps excel at the debrief – helping children understand, discuss and process what just happened. They do this on ropes courses and with camping programming pursuits of all types, but they also do with shared values, like kindness.
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/greater-good-science-center/a-simple-way-to-foster-ki_b_10971210.html 

Every child should have the chance to benefit from a summer camp experience!
Find a camp for a child you love here. It's already time to start camp planning for next summer.

Thanks to the following ACA Accredited camps for sharing photography: Camp Jewell YMCA, Colebrook, CT (top left) and Camp Timanous, Raymond, ME (bottom right).