What do kids really learn at summer camps?
Summer camp is more than a way to spend the summer holidays - it enriches your child in many ways. Source: Shutterstock

It’s hard to believe that it’s already April, and summer will soon be here before you know it! Many parents are probably wondering how their children are going to fill the hot summer days out of school.

A summer camp may be just what your child needs this year, if you have the opportunity and means to get them there.

The typical ‘summer camp’ is usually synonymous with American childhoods, but it’s slowly becoming more popular in other parts of the world.

And for good reason, as it’s a great way for school-going children and teenagers to spend the long summer break.

The idea for the summer camp was born in the early 1900s as a way for boys to roughhouse and spend time in nature – climbing trees, throwing rocks into rivers, learning how to build fires, and such.

But gradually, they became more ‘civilised’, and eventually evolved to become little communities for children (both girls and boys!) where they could either choose to attend a specialised camp or a more general one.

There has been a notable shift that’s seen summer camps become less ‘back-to-nature’, but that’s not neccesarily a bad thing.

Not only are kids spending their break doing something productive, they also learn plenty of important skills and life lessons when they attend.

But what are children really learning while away at camp?

Developing unique interests

Specialised camps are those focused on a particular interest or sport, such as archery, computers, robotics, tennis, dance, and so on.

During the normal school year, there’s usually limited opportunities for students to pursue these interests.

There might be a robotics club, or dance class they can take on the weekends, but that’s usually just a small amount of time carved out of a busy schedule of homework, school, and other regular activities.

During summer camp, kids get to develop and explore their interests, taking a deep dive into what they love. They also get to meet other like-minded children with the same hobbies, much like they would networking in a professional context.

The chance to develop their interests early on can lead to higher levels of self-esteem, and they will be better prepared when they graduate high school as they likely already know what they want to pursue in their career.

Community service 

Kids are often told, presumably, by teachers and parents that it’s important to do good deeds and contribute to the community.

But if they aren’t given the chance to do so, they won’t really learn anything, and it’s harder to develop those habits in life later on.

Many summer camps have the benefit of teaching kids how to do good deeds, be respectful of others, clean up after themselves, and take care of their surroundings.

According to the American Camp Association (ACA), “Half of camps report having community service or good deed programs incorporated into their programs. The top projects conducted at camps were community clean-ups, food drives, recycling programs, and volunteering with senior citizens and hospital patients.”

Physical activity

summer camp

Children get many opportunities to exercise and spend time outdoors at summer camp. Source: Shutterstock

Children learn a lot from being active, and no matter what kind of camp you send your child to, they will be involved in some kind of physical activity.

Sports and other physical forms of activity encourage development of fine and gross motor skills, agility, endurance and hand-eye coordination.

The ACA’s statistics show that “86% of camps offer recreational swimming, 63% offer camping skills, 47% offer climbing/rappelling, 34% offer horseback riding, 75% teambuilding, 41% community service, 23% farming/ranching/gardening, and 21% wilderness trips.”

Team sports teach children how to work with others and think on their feet, while individual sports like swimming allow them to de-stress and learn how to be disciplined and independent.

Whatever kind of sport they take part in at camp encourages them to get off the couch and get their bodies moving.

Since it’s with other children during summer, chances are that kids will find the physical element of summer camp so much fun that they won’t even realise how good it is for them.

Communication skills

Children learn important social skills like communication at summer camp. Source: Shutterstock

At camp, children of all ages get to exercise their communication skills as they’re usually forced to work in teams or with others.

Living with other kids teaches them more about different forms of communication than what they learn in normal school hours.

They’re generally encouraged to mix with others and unplug from smartphones and iPads, even if it’s a ‘techie’ camp, so they have plenty of opportunity to communicate and interact with others.

There’s also the fact that they get to mix with children of all backgrounds at summer camp, where they can learn how to respect other cultures and communicate with people from all walks of life.


Kids are away from their parents at camp, so they have to pick up after themselves and learn how to do things on their own.

They have to take care of their own personal belongings, get their own meals, talk to others, and learn how to live away from coddling parents.

They know that counselors are there to help, and learning to seek assistance is a form of independence.

A busy schedule is kept at camp, so they need to learn how to juggle their activities and keep to their schedules on their own, without a parent reminding them.

According to SierraNevadaJourneys, “It can certainly be difficult for parents to send their child away to camp, but there are so many opportunities for growth during their time away, like developing independence. Upon returning home, parents will notice changes in their campers that make it worth what can be some challenging days apart. ”

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