Seems a little early to be talking about summer camp before winter has even fully settled in, but many parents are talking about it. In fact, some camps (including Bay Shore Camp) are already talking about camp programs that are nearly full, indicating plenty of parents are reserving spots for their kids already.
What is camp?
The term camp has become a bit confusing over the years with nearly every family focused community organization and non-profit offering summer kids programs and calling them “camp.” In a historic and traditional sense, a camp is defined as a recreational institution providing facilities for outdoor activities, sports, crafts, and other special interests and typically featuring overnight accommodations. That is camp.
But why summer camp!
There are countless reasons kids should attend summer camp.
- Kids learn independence. Kids learn they can get along without their parents. They learn to follow schedules, make some of their own decisions about what to eat and what to wear and what to buy at the camp store. Isn’t independence the ultimate goal of parenthood?
- Kids learn to make friends. A skill lost by many kids during the “lockdowns” of COVID. Many adults describe camp friendships as the most valuable ones they have.
- Kids learn to value community. Campers learn to live in cabin with other kids for a week. They learn (hopefully) to keep a clean living space. Through group building activities, they learn to love and care for others not like them.
- Kids learn they can be loved and valued by others. Most kids are reasonably smart and they know that it’s the parents’ job to affirm them. At camp, kids will encounter other adults who also will find the good in them and tell them. They’ll begin to believe it’s true and their esteem will grow. They’ll discover their camp cabin leaders—perfect strangers—will value and love them for just being themselves.
- Kids learn new skills. All kinds of camps offer new opportunities for kids to new learn skills. It might be a sport like basketball, baseball, softball, soccer or volleyball. It could be canoeing or campfire building. It could be a craft or a skill like swimming. It could be art, singing, drama, dance or how to play an instrument. Undoubtedly, your child will come home having learned something new and wanting to share it with you.
- It’s fun. Camp is just good clean (though often dirty) fun. There will be big camp games that end with very dirty campers needing to be hosed off. They may stay up late, sing fun songs and perform or watch fun skits around the campfire.
- It’s life changing. All of these things result in a life changing experience. Kids grow in confidence, independence, and self-esteem. They become better friends and classmates who grow into better adults. All the activity provides a healthy break from the digital world of phones, tablets and gaming.
If you choose a faith-based camp for your child, they will be strengthened and encouraged in their faith in ways that are difficult for their faith community to accomplish in the time they have with your children.
There are all types of camp experiences. Certainly, there’s one that will be the right fit for your child. If yours hesitates at the idea, encourage them to invite a friend to attend with them. And, if cost becomes a concern, don’t be afraid to ask for scholarship opportunities for your child.
Make it priority to send your child to camp. Now’s the time to register your camper! Even before winter settles in! Some spots are going fast.
Jeff Parsons is the Executive Director of Bay Shore Camp and Family Ministries in Sebewaing, MI, not far from where you live. Bay Shore offers Christian Camping opportunities for kids and their families. Check out their website at: bayshorecamp.org. Or Facebook: www.facebook.com/bayshorecamp. Or call to schedule a personal visit and tour. 989-883-2501.