10 Great Reasons to Send Your Kid to Summer Camp

Happy Camper | Kids Jumping into Pool

by Stacey Ebert


Ask anyone who ever had anything to do with summer camp and you’ll get a story. My story includes a summer home where I felt valued and loved, where I learned while having fun, where I met heaps of humans with different lived experiences, where I undoubtedly thrived, and where I developed friendships that have spanned multiple decades. Summer camp is so completely interwoven into the fabric of my persona that, years later, I continued to work in the camp world. Mention summer camp and a smile usurps my entire being and special moments flood my memory. For many who have been touched by the magic of summer camp, the reaction is similar. Giving that gift to a child is a gift that will remain alive in them forever – it’s priceless. Here are ten reasons why you should send your kid to camp:

Growth

We learn, grow, and develop at all ages. In childhood it all happens at warp speed. Sometimes it’s through fun, sometimes through discomfort and often without our knowledge. While, at summer’s end, your camper has often sprouted taller than when school finished, the actual internal growth exceeds those inches by leaps and bounds. 

Instilling Confidence

Whether you bound through the entrance enthralled to hug old friends or step shyly in those first few days, summer camp affords each camper a chance to grow, try new things, and build confidence. With new experiences like trying a new skill, stepping out of a comfort zone, or more social and emotional skills that obliterate or manage self-doubt and nerves, summer camp drives home the message that we can do things we never thought we could and always have a cheer squad by our side.

Informal Education

Playing, creating, swimming, sporting, or crafting – summer camp is filled with a multitude of informal learning – all of it in a safe, risk-free space to learn. At all ages and stages, summer camp offers the opportunity to dive into the unknown and flourish. In having fun, in the moment, in the interactions, in the joy, the struggles, in all of it, there’s learning. Whether we notice it or not, it’s there and will continue to show up in many ways for years to come.

Canoe Lake

Developing Skills

The brochures tell us a story. It shows pictures of smiling campers, helpful counselors, and joyful adventures. Look deeper and you’ll find quiet campers finding their voices, shy ones becoming leaders, and new learning both above and beneath the surface. Social emotional development may not be as visible as the shiny camper of the week trophy, but it shows up in countless ways. Your camper will develop skills they’ll tap into throughout their lives. 

Building Relationships

Camp friends are special. They see you, truly see you. They’re with you 24/7, at those homesick moments, and those of triumph. They help you learn, listen to your stories, offer hugs, and are there for it all. Perhaps it’s a counselor who shows compassion or one who sees you through a struggle. Perhaps it’s a camper who shares their snacks or encourages you to reach new heights. We learn to build relationships with all who make camp, camp. We learn how we wish to show up in the world and these relationships will forever be a part of that story. 

Character Development

It’s a good day at camp if a child comes home dirty, sweaty, happy, and exhausted. It’s a good summer if the moment the head hits the pillow they’re fast asleep. Every day filled with delight, adventure, joy, and summer’s end equipped with tears, stories, and a whole lot of dirty laundry. Each story, connection, moment, star-gazing evening, trip, and blue tongue from that drippy ice pop holds magic. Your camper returns with more courage, experiences, connections, and a renewed sense of self. At camp, they moved mountains and now trust that when another shows up, they know how to climb. 

Learning Collaboration and Cooperation

Cabin nights, Olympics, co-eds; these are only a few of the many aspects of summer camp where collaboration and cooperation takes center stage. Without thinking about the bigger picture, campers help each other reach the top of the ropes course, create the poster to hang in the lodge, work together to achieve a goal, and learn that each person counts. Creating, crafting, cooking, coding, coordinating, or competing – collaborative efforts are ever present. Summer camp is the communal village that allows each member to flourish and thrive.  

Expanding the Comfort Zone

For nearly two blissful months a year, summer camp attendees get an opportunity to blast the borders of their comfort zone. It might take a minute or the entire season, but that dance between comfort and uncomfortable is ever present. Perhaps it involves a new skill, level, lesson, or attempt. Perhaps it’s taking a risk, trusting oneself, or that first step coupled with doubt. It comes with stepping into the unknown, taking the leap, and learning that they are their own net. Each camper is different, and each one has a lived experience broadened by summer camp. 

Diversity and Inclusion

Summer camp brings together campers and counselors of all backgrounds, ages, and stages. This shared summer home is infused with laughter, learning, and love. Here we build bigger tables, join together, include all, respect differences, make space for varied learning styles and abilities, listen to understand, treat each other equitably, and offer encouragement and support. 

Empathy and Compassion

Summer camp is full of heart. At one point or another, it’s a new journey for each of us. Someone greets us as we enter, takes our hand to show us the way, ensures we get our favorite snack, and offers a safe space to share our stories. We enter as individuals, create community, and leave as family. We build emotional fortitude, strengthen our empathy muscles, and learn how compassion can change a life’s trajectory. Here we share hearts and in that sharing, become better people.

Stacey Ebert

Stacey Ebert is a camper at heart who has spent over 25 years in the camp industry. Her empathetic heart guides her connections & drive to make a positive difference in the world. She encourages both the young and young at heart to find their passion, challenge their comfort zone, and to always strive to be a good human. Stacey holds both a BA from Brandeis University and an MS from Hofstra University, is a positive psychology practitioner, coach, writer, & educator. She grew up in New York, lived abroad in Australia, and presently lives with her husband in San Diego, California seeking to help others embrace their potential and carve the life they want. Check out her blog at staceyebert.com.