Families today have more options than ever before – a buffet of movies, museums, picnics, parks, classes, vacations and so much more. With all of these options, why should families choose Camp?
Choose to learn
Camp is an experiential education like no other. Children learn life lessons like independence, leadership and self-confidence in an environment designed specifically for them. Camp is made up almost entirely of teachable moments. Through fun and hands-on experiences, campers have the opportunity to grow and develop the skills needed to be productive, successful adults.
"Childhood is not passive, and children are natural learners when provided the appropriate environment," says Peg Smith, chief executive officer for the American Camp Association. "Camp serves as the solution to many of the gaps in our current education system – teaching values such as self-esteem, teamwork and caring." And because of the hands-on nature of camp, everyone, not just the "A" student and the athlete, has the opportunity to thrive and enjoy the process of learning.
Camp is fundamental in the national discussion around the need for high-quality summer programs to keep students engaged in learning, and encourage them to develop new skills and previously unseen talents. According to the National Summer Learning Association (NSLA) and research conducted by Johns Hopkins sociology professor Karl Alexander, intentional summer programs, like camp, help stem summer learning loss – providing experiences that challenge children, develop talents, keep them engaged and expand horizons.
The camp community is committed to providing positive experiences for all children. It is projected that ACA camps provide more than $216 million annually in tuition assistance. There is a broad range of camps that serve every interest and every family situation – there is literally a camp experience perfect for every child.
Camp also provides critical contact with the natural world. In her article, "A Field Guide to Preserving Childhood," Smith writes, "For generations, children grew up outside. They walked to school, rode their bikes and walked barefoot through the grass. Childhood was characterized by innocence, imagination, wonder and laughter."
Today's generations are losing more than just time in the outdoors. In a study by two Cornell University environmental psychologists, findings show that being close to nature can help boost a child's attention span. And studies show that time in nature can help reduce stress and protect children from future stress. In some instances, camp may be the only time a child is in contact with the natural world.
Choose powerful play
Kids often spend over seven hours each day plugged in to some kind of electronic medium. That's more time than they spend doing anything else besides sleeping. With schedules packed with homework, chores, music lessons and organized sports, children are losing time to play. Emerging research continues to show that good, old-fashioned play is important to physical and psychological development.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, free and unstructured play is healthy and, in fact, essential for helping children reach important social, emotional, and cognitive developmental milestones, as well as helping them manage stress and become resilient.
Camp allows children the opportunity to relax and just be kids. They can unplug from electronics, and plug into the world around them – taking time to really invest in developing relationships with peers and mentors. Camp teaches that friends come in all shapes and sizes, and from all backgrounds. ACA research indicates that 96 percent of campers made new friends, and 93 percent of campers met people that were different from them. The camp experience helps develop authentic friendships and a sense of community, while making children more aware of the world around them.
For over 150 years, camp has been about making memories, honoring traditions and being a part of something bigger. Why should families choose camp? Because it's good for life!
How can families begin their own camp experience?
By visiting ACA's family resource site, www.CampParents.org, families have access to information and guidance as they search for the perfect camp experience. ACA's Find A Camp search allows families to look for a camp based on region, activity, cultural focus, budget, session length and much more! In addition, families can follow ACA on Facebook and Twitter for helpful hints and camp information.
The American Camp Association® (ACA) works to preserve, promote, and enhance the camp experience for children and adults. ACA-Accredited® camp programs ensure that children are provided with a diversity of educational and developmentally challenging learning opportunities. There are over 2,400 ACA-Accredited camps that meet up to 290 health and safety standards. For more information, visit www.ACAcamps.org.