Summer camps are intentional communities created with children’s optimal development in mind. Campers have the opportunity to learn so many important lessons. Among the most significant are those focused on how to be responsible, contributing members of a camp group—a group that is unlike the folks at home and not the same as a class in school either (but which shares elements of both those rich learning environments.) When campers learn why and how to treat others well, their family members and future classmates only stand to benefit. Kindness matters. New research proves it. Camp living allows children to benefit from all five techniques highlighted in this recent article. Many people don’t realize that camps play a major role in reinforcing social and emotional learning. Skills in this realm are critical for success in school, college and in later life. Much more attention’s been paid lately to developing non-academic skills, despite disagreement about what to call them. Whether these skills are  called non-academic or noncognitive traits and habits, social and emotional skills, or something else, camp experiences really do develop them!  

It’s exactly this type of social and emotional education and non-academic skill-building environment that influences campers to grow up and change the world. There are three businesses that are making such a difference in New England right now with their philanthropy by increasing the chances that more children in need will be able to attend camp in Summer 2016: Whole Foods Market Arlington (MA), Treat Cupcake Bar (Needham & Chestnut Hill, MA) and Wishlist (Westport, CT). Each of them is supporting Camp Champions with special sales. For Whole Foods Market Arlington it’s a 5% Day on June 17th when five percent of the day’s sales will benefit Camp Champions. Treat Cupcake Bar has created a S’Mores Cupcake as its Treat Others Well cupcake for the month of June.  Cupcakes cost $5 and 50% will be donated to Camp Champions. Stop by one of their two locations or take advantage of cupcake delivery in various parts of Metro Boston. Wishlist, a boutique in Westport, CT is donating 10% of sales on camp merchandise until the camp season officially begins. We are grateful to Whole Foods Market Arlington, Treat Cupcake Bar and  Wishlist in Westport, CT for treating us so very well.

Today, we are celebrating these three businesses that are treating Camp Champions well while we’re marveling at the many ways camps go about teaching children to treat others well. Camps all have underlying programming philosophies that reinforce values and instill life lessons. Make no mistake, camps spend a lot of time thinking through the character and other educational aspects of what they offer. This is why we call them intentional communities. Each camp has its own way of displaying what's most important in their particular camp culture. Whether that display graces it's property, its print literature or its website, do take the time to review it.  We believe this is at the heart of why campers belong (and feel a sense of belonging) at camp, why campers love their camp friends, why campers feel they can be their “best selves” at camp, and why campers can absorb and learn so much while at camp.

It's pretty simple: campers who are being treated well learn to treat others well. 

Photo Credits from top to bottom: ACA Accredited Camp Chewonki (Wiscasset, ME), Whole Foods Market (Arlington, MA) and ACA Accredited Camp Takajo (Naples, ME; photo by Le Petit Studio)