They are singing silly songs and playing funny games and experiencing an array of program activities. Laughter fills the air and some of the biggest smiles you've ever seen are on display. Day and overnight camps are incredibly happy places. Campers tend to be very, very happy people, whether they're teens or tots or at an age in between. And the adults who camps hire to work with campers are role models for happiness, among other things.
Camps engage children in active play and learning in ways that are truly life-changing and unique. Some of the most significant learning happens in the social-emotional realm. In the larger conversation about building children's skills to resolve conflict, to collaborate, to participate in group decision-making and to acquire and experience many other 21st century skills, sometimes we don't focus enough on the importance of the fun and the learning that results. Camps help teach children how to be happy! At camp, with a group of campers and dedicated staff, children learn how to make the most of the present moment and that certainly includes finding the happiness in that moment.
There's a lot written for parents about their children's happiness. This recent Washington Post article by Lauren Knight on the art of happiness shared some concepts and resources for families to use as they help their children learn happiness, which couldn't be more important n today's world. Here Knight quotes Mike Ferry:
Mike Ferry, a long-time middle school teacher, father of four and author of Teaching Happiness and Innovation, maintains that we can. Contrary to what many believe, success does not always bring happiness; but research has shown that the reverse is true — happier people are more likely to be successful at school, work, and in their personal lives. Ferry defines happiness as “an optimistic, communal, and disciplined perspective on life.”
Camps encourage the habits that teach children how to be happy! In particular, camp environments foster all the ways Lauren Knight encourages parents to cultivate happiness at home: teaching and role-modeling gratitude and kindness, inspiring creativity, and celebrating the impact of unconventional people.
It doesn't surprise us that many articles written by camp counselors on the importance and value of the camp experience focus on that value for both campers and the adults who are lucky enough to work with them. It's not surprising at all that Emma Hardy mentions happiness in her 5/25/15 piece for the State Journal-Register:
It’s what made me want to become a counselor myself — I wanted to be able to give kids the same amazing experience I received as a child. I think the vast majority of camp counselors would agree. And while we’re nowhere near perfect, we strive to be, because that’s how many of us remember our former counselors.
A few months after returning from my first job working as a camp counselor and videographer, my mother told me, “You know, ever since you went to camp, you seem like a happier person.”
And it’s true — undeniably, unequivocally true. Our job makes us happy. Our coworkers make us happy. The memories make us happy. Your kids make us happy.
We couldn't have said it better, Emma!
Photo Credits from top to bottom of page: Camp Howe (ACA Accredited) in Goshen, MA, Camp Chewonki (ACA Accredited) in Wiscasset, ME, and Farm & Wilderness Camps(ACA Accredited) in Plymouth, VT