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The Social and Emotional Long-Term Benefits of Summer Camp

 Summer camps help children to foster social relationships without the aid of a parent.

NEW YORK CITY - Children spend up to 180 days in school, not counting weekend functions, school-sponsored extra-curricular activities and socializing with friends. For most kids, it’s a huge part of their world.

Camp offers your child a different environment in which to grow their social skills and expand their friendship circle.

The primary feature of most camps is that they offer recreation and creativity in a structured environment.  That structure usually provides for downtime to just hang out.

Here, are a few of the many positive features of going to camp.

 

Another Opportunity to Develop Social Intelligence
According to psychologist Daniel Goleman, who coined the term, social intelligence is broken into two parts:

Social awareness is the ability to monitor our inner world — our thoughts and feelings. Social awareness refers to qualities including empathy, attunement to others and social cognition.

Social facility, on the other hand, refers to how we use our internal social awareness to interact with individuals and groups successfully, such as self-presentation, influence and concern for others.

Camp is a key opportunity for kids to develop both sides of their social intelligence by offering them a way to practice becoming adept at socializing by offering them access to many new people and environments.

The more children can practice their social intelligence, the more smoothly they can incorporate the skills for the rest of their lives.

Emotional Challenges
The structure of camp presents an ideal environment for children to build resilience. As I’ve mentioned before in my Mental Wellness column, resilience is having the ability to take failures in stride and retain a positive outlook on life and one’s abilities.

There are a myriad of examples where resilience can be fostered while at camp, whether it be on the losing side of an athletic competition, navigating the social waters of cliques and peer groups, or (in the case of sleep-away camp) not being able to lean on a parent’s intervention, thereby learning to “smooth” things out on one’s own.

Camp also allows children to experience the full range of emotions in relationships in a compressed time frame of several days to several months. Children get to experience the nervousness, excitement and, eventually, the sadness that comes from making new friends, connecting with those friends and then having to say goodbye at the end. This experience will repeat itself over and over again across one’s lifetime and it is a different experience from the cycle of the academic year.

Expanding the Definition of “Who I Am”
For good or for bad, we often times get labeled early in our lives as an athlete, an artist, musician, as gifted or talented, as a “brainiac,” or other, more derogatory, things.

After I finished graduate school, I worked at an academically-oriented summer program for high school kids, located on a major college campus. It was a very LGBT-friendly environment, and many of the LGBT students expressed that they felt most like themselves at this program. This was in stark contrast to their school experiences where they felt they had to “hide” their true selves, due to fear of judgment, ridicule or violence. The students were very grateful for this camp.

Like those LGBT teens, kids of all kinds can find a place to expand or change their label at the right camp.

In the age of specialized summer camps, children who excel or have an intense interest in a subject can spend their summers exclusively pursuing their passions. A secondary gain from this is that the other kids attending camp are also the ones labeled in the aforementioned ways back home. As a result, your child can be defined less by their passion, or what they “do,” and more by their character and the other traits that go into their “true” sense of self.

If the child has had negative experiences at school or in their neighborhood, they get exposure to a different world that may feel more accepting, walking away with a belief that there is a place for them in world.

The Investment
Sometimes summer camp can be a costly financial investment for parents, particularly when it comes to food and lodging and travel at camps such as sleep-aways.

But whether it's a free camp or a paid camp, a good one requires kids to invest in their experience, whether it's through their intention to build friendships or their willingness to push boundaries to the unknown.

If a child spends the summer growing their social network, building resilience, developing a positive sense of self which helps them be who they really are, then the money spent on summer camp is a priceless investment in your kid’s future.

As a parent and a camp director, I often speak with parents that have their child on the fast track. Life has become all about building their child's resume, one filled with Accomplishment and Direction. When I mention I run a summer camp they are often unwilling to hear why camp is an important part of what today's children need. At Swift Nature Camp we are about people building not about building resumes. The  better the kids,  the better the people. We believe it is people that will change the world not resumes.
Recently the below article was in the Washington Post,  maybe this is what I need to print and hand out to those parents... Tell us what you think.

 

I send my kids to sleep-away camp to give them a competitive advantage in life

- Washington Post

“Do you even like your children?” the woman I had just met asked me.

The audacity of the question took my breath away. I had been chatting with her, explaining that my kids go to sleep-away camp for two months every year.

I quickly realized two things at once: She was obnoxious, and she actually didn’t care if I missed my kids during the summer. She was talking about something else.I didn’t have to tell her the reason I “send them away” for most of the summer is because I like them. They adore camp, and it’s actually harder on me than it is on them. I often tell people that the first year they were both gone, it felt like I had lost an arm. I wandered around the house from room to room experiencing phantom limb pain.

Now, instead of being offended, I got excited.

I was going to be able to tell her something that my husband and I rarely get to explain: We do it because we truly think it will help our kids be successful in life. With under-employment and a stagnating labor market looming in their future, an all-around, sleep-away summer camp is one of the best competitive advantages we can give our children.

Huh?

Surely, college admissions officers aren’t going to be impressed with killer friendship bracelets or knowing all the words to the never-ending camp song “Charlie on the M.T.A.” Who cares if they can pitch a tent or build a fire?

Indeed, every summer my kids “miss out” on the specialized, résumé-building summers that their peers have. Their friends go to one-sport summer camps and take summer school to skip ahead in math. Older peers go to SAT/ACT prep classes. One kid worked in his dad’s business as an intern, while another enrolled in a summer program that helped him write all his college essays.

Many (this woman included) would say that I’m doing my children a serious disservice by choosing a quaint and out-of-date ideal instead. There are online Ivy League Coaches” that might say we are making a terrible mistake.

We don’t think this is a mistake at all. It might not be something to put on the college application (unless my child eventually becomes a counselor), but that isn’t the goal for us.

Our goal is bigger.

We are consciously opting out of the things-to-put-on-the-college-application arms race, and instead betting on three huge benefits of summer camp, which we believe will give them a true competitive advantage — in life:

1. Building creativity.

2. Developing broadly as a human being.

3. Not-living-in-my-basement-as-an-adult independence.

MIT’s Erik Brynjolfsson says, in his book “The Second Machine Age,” that we have reached a pivotal moment where technology is replacing skills and people at an accelerated pace. He argues that creativity and innovation are becoming competitive advantages in the race against artificial intelligence, because creativity is something a machine has a hard time replicating.

The problem is that creativity seems so intangible.

Steve Jobs once said, “Creativity is just connecting things.” He believed that people invent when they connect the dots between the experiences they’ve had. To do this, he argued that we need to have more experiences and spend more time thinking about those experiences.

Indeed. According to Adam Grant’s book “Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World,” researchers at Michigan State University found that to receive the Nobel Prize, you need deep study in your field and those broad experiences Jobs was talking about. They studied the winning scientists from 1901 through 2005 and compared them with typical scientists living at the same time. Grant writes that the Nobel Prize winners were:

* Two times more likely to  play an instrument, compose or conduct.

* Seven times more likely to draw, paint or sculpt.

* Seven-and-a-half times more likely to do woodwork or be a mechanic, electrician or glassblower.

* Twelve times more likely to write poetry, plays, novels or short stories.

* And 22 times more likely to be an amateur actor, dancer or magician.

You read that right. Magician.

It’s not just that this kind of original thinker actively seeks out creative pursuits. These original experiences provide a new way of looking at the world, which helped the prize-winners think differently in their day jobs.

The beauty of summer camp is that not only do kids get to do all sorts of crazy new things, they also get to do it in nature, which lends its own creative boost.

Most importantly, my kids have such intensely packed schedules full of sports, music, art classes, community service and technological stimulation throughout the school year that it makes finding these all-important quiet mental spaces more difficult.

Summers provide a much-needed opportunity for my children to unplug, achieve focus and develop those creative thought processes and connections.

Okay, okay. Creativity might be a compelling tool to beat out that neighbor girl applying to the same college, but what about this “developing broadly as a human being” stuff?

I didn’t come up with that phrase. Harvard did.

William Fitzsimmons, dean of admissions at Harvard, has penned a compelling letter to parents. It practically begs and pleads with them to reevaluate the summer extracurriculars race and to “bring summer back,” with an “old-fashioned summer job” perhaps, or simply time to “gather strength for the school year ahead.”

Fitzsimmons writes, “What can be negative is when people lose sight of the fact that it’s important to develop broadly as a human being, as opposed to being an achievement machine. In the end, people will do much better reflecting, perhaps through some down time, in the summer.”

In terms of “developing broadly as a human being,” summer camp can provide an impressive list of life skills.

Studies over the past decade have shown outdoor programs stimulate the development of interpersonal competencies, enhance leadership skills and have positive effects on adolescents’ sense of empowerment, self-control, independence, self-understanding, assertiveness, decision-making skills, self-esteem, leadership, academics, personality and interpersonal relations.

Now for the cherry on top: Independence.

Michael Thompson, the author of “Homesick and Happy,” has written, “… there are things that, as a parent, you cannot do for your children, as much as you might wish to. You cannot make them happy (if you try too hard they become whiners); you cannot give them self-esteem and confidence (those come from their own accomplishments); you cannot pick friends for them and micro-manage their social lives, and finally you cannot give them independence. The only way children can grow into independence is to have their parents open the door and let them walk out. That’s what makes camp such a life-changing experience for children.”

So, yes, Ms. Tiger Mom, I am letting my children walk out the door and make useless lanyards for two months.

They might not have anything “constructive” to place on their college application, but they will reflect, unwind, think and laugh. They will explore, perform skits they wrote themselves and make those endless friendship bracelets to tie onto the wrists of lifelong friends.

The result will be that when they come back through our door, we’re pretty sure that, in addition to having gobs of creativity and independence, they’ll be more comfortable with who they are as people.

And just maybe they’ll even bring back a few magic tricks.

 

Laura Clydesdale lives in Berkeley, Calif., with her husband and children.

Over the past few years I have been happy to act as the Vice President of the Midwest Association of Independent Camps (M.A.I.C.).We represent the very best independently owned and operated summer camps in the Midwest. MAIC includes kids' summer camps in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan and Indiana. Our organization educates and inspires camping professionals to be their very best.
MAIC is a group of camp professionals who are dedicated to promoting high quality standards in organized camping, while offering children and their parents the best possible summer camp experience. Members of MAIC have been meeting together and sharing ideas, methods and practices since 1960.
To parents looking for a top quality resident camp or day camp in the Midwest: we are a great place to start your camp search. 
CampsRus.com is a camp directory that represents over 45 of the very best summer camps in the midwest.
If you are looking for an amazing summer camp job working with children, be sure to choose an MAIC camp and start your search 
here
Remember MAIC camps are family run camps that are concerned for each child’s safety and emotional development. Above all else M.A.I.C. camps = fun, fun, fun, fun!

When it comes to chatting with the world outside the woods of Camp Netimus, the girls here go a little crazy with their fonts.
Forget plain old 12-point black Helvetica. Bubbly, heart-dotted letters in shimmery orange or shiny purple reign queen. And banish the image of a simple white screen on which to write. Netimus girls reach for neon green sheets or cards imprinted with cheetah spots and glitter-showered pink flip-flops.
At this 80-year-old traditional residential camp for girls in the 
Pocono Mountains, and at thousands more around the USA, connecting with Mom and Dad requires licks — of stamps and envelopes — not clicks. The medium for talking to Muddah and Fadduh is a message from the past.
The hand-scribbled, shoebox-worthy letter may seem as anachronistic as archery and A/C-free living, but at sleepaway camp, where directors have largely succeeded in keeping two-way texting and e-mail at bay, it thrives.
The practice of putting colored pencil to notebook paper is "old-fashioned," says Ruby Auman, 11, swinging her legs from her blond wood bunk, where her wall is papered with an ink-printed "of course I'm thinking of you" reply from her mom 2½ hours away in Lewisburg, Pa. "But it's not old-fashioned while you're here."


Camp is not just about fun


One reason for swapping a life of zip files for one of ziplines is to practice face-to-face — and pen-to-pen — communication, says Darlene Calton, a Netimus director (and alumna). "There are so many little life lessons you get at camp that are not necessarily learning how to climb on the ropes course. It's about writing letters home and solving problems by yourself" — instead of texting or calling parents and friends every five minutes to seek advice or to vent.
During a Netimus camper's two- to seven-week stay, directors encourage at least one letter home a week, though more prolific girls might write three a day. Cellphones are considered contraband; if one creeps in, it gets a vacation in the camp office. And computers are as exotic as boys.
Indeed, directors say that one of the benefits of allowing the 
U.S. Postal Service, as opposed to Google Mail, to act as messenger is that by the time Sally's letter detailing her fight with cabinmate Susie has snaked its way home from the country, the row has been long resolved.
In his research for Camp Camp: Where 
Fantasy Island Meets Lord of the Flies, a scrapbook of '70s and '80s camp life, author (and onetime Maine camp counselor) Roger Bennett found that through letter writing, "parents could be present and could assuage their concerns, but not so present that they prevented the incredible freedom that camp offered." Thanks to the time-space continuum of snail mail, "they knew what was going on, but could do nothing to prevent it."
"That," he adds, "is a tradition that needs to be preserved."
At the Postal Service, where mail volume has declined dramatically — more that 20% in the past two years — the fact that a generation accustomed to the instant feedback of the Internet is slowing down to pick up a pencil is heartening, says spokesman Mark Saunders. "When you think about summer camp and you think about pitching a tent or living in a cabin, it's just a natural fit. You're exposing children to a means of communication" that's likely foreign to them.
"As technology increases, the call to get back to the basics is more important than ever," says Marla Coleman, former president of the American Camp Association. In a 2007 survey of the nation's 3,000 ACA-accredited camps, three-quarters said e-mail, cellphones and computers were verboten.
"Camp is a place for kids to practice growing up, and when they become adults, they will need to string together more than 140 characters," Coleman says, alluding to 
Twitter's character limit. With basic letter-writing techniques shoved further down school curricula, "where else are they learning to address an envelope? If camp is this expanded learning environment, letter writing is the touchstone of that learning experience."
As proper salutations and closings become less of a priority in classrooms, "it's superb," says Carol Jago, president of the National Council of Teachers of English, that camps might be the last bastion of the form. "Children need an authentic purpose for writing a letter," Jago says. "If the purpose is to get away from the world a little bit at camp, to get away from video games a little bit, then pick up a pencil and let's do it the long way, let's do it the slow way. I think it would be sad to lose that."


A venerable tradition


The survival of the stamped camp letter, a tradition that dates back to the dawn of camps during the late 19th century, "makes perfect sense" to Leslie Paris, an associate professor of history at the University of British Columbia and the author of Children's Nature: The Rise of the American Summer Camp. As part of her research, Paris dug up a 1919 mom-directed missive from one Floyd Frost at Camp Riverdale in the Adirondacks: "This is letter-writing period and we all have to write home, so here goes."
"Camps have always been institutions that were at once very modern, reflecting new ideas about the preciousness of childhood on the one hand," Paris says, "and on the other hand, places that privileged a kind of nostalgic look at the American past."
And today, what's more a totem of America's analog past than the letter?
The pile of envelopes in the "Property of 
USPS"-stamped cardboard box in Netimus' white clapboard office seem as much of a relic as the 1969 "Debby Sharp was here" graffiti scrawled in cabin No. 7. Slid through the office's shin-high metal mail slot, they're creased and lumpy, as though they've been stuffed in a trunk for a while. Addresses are jumbled — the ZIP code, if it's there, heralding the town name, the town wedged on one long line between the street and the state — and they're inscribed, in wobbly script, where the return address goes.
(Ruby keeps a couple sample addressed envelopes taped to her cabin wall as guides. At Camp Kupugani in Leaf River, Ill., each cabin gets a laminated cheat sheet that diagrams correct envelope-addressing form.)
Stamps — dogs and cats and Simpsons characters — are rotated 90 degrees. Last names are missing.
The campers' attempts at engaging in an activity that to them is more novelty than necessity are "so funny," Calton says. " 'Grandma,' that's all it says on the envelope. Or 'Grandma, Rye, N.Y.' It's like, 'OK, who lives in Rye?' "
Inside, the letters are rife with tweenspeak and problematic punctuation, just like in texts, instant messages and e-mails. But how many IMs come attached with pink puffy heart stickers emblazoned "I love U!" in shaky black block print?
Ruby's latest letter asks "if you could have the A/C on when I get home because I'm looking forward to the cold air. Also I'm gonna need some more hair stuff." Hannah Goldman's most recent postcard to her cousins in Wayne, Pa., wonders, "How are you. Great. I miss you. Have a great summer. Please write back."
Hannah, 10, finds the writing process, typically conducted during rest hour in her cabin atop a clipboard or book or against the wall, "sort of peaceful." She has written "like 20" in four weeks. Ruby's cabin B4 friend Sarah O'Connell, who's used to picking up her cellphone to talk to her parents, says picking up a pencil was hard at first.
"I didn't know what to do," says Sarah, 11, who's from Pennington, N.J. "I would write it, 'Dear Mom and Dad,' and then I'd write it all scribbly."
But she has since become a fan. "You feel more connected" to your family, Sarah says. As compared with e-mails — which Netimus, like a lot of camps, allow parents to send but not receive — letters are "more sincere," volunteers 11-year-old Remi Riordan, who's from A4 next door (and Montclair, N.J.). "It feels like it's really for you," vs. "there's a subject line and your name."
Sitting on her lower bunk a few screen doors down, amid tie-dyed laundry bags and Justin Bieber-emblazoned teen magazines, Hallie Cain, 11, of McLean, Va., is diligently working on a birthday card for her mom.
Gabby Birenbaum, the cabin's de facto philosopher on the compulsory epistle, is holding her 10th letter in two weeks, destined for her grandparents in West Bloomfield, Mich.
Does the exercise feel like something her parents did? "Like what my grandparents did," says Gabby, 11, who's from Arlington, Va.
"Camp is an opportunity to unplug and develop authentic relationships," Coleman says. "There really is no substitute for Mom or Dad's handwriting on a letter, the smell of Mom's perfume, the clipping dad has enclosed of a box score. You really can't replace that with technology."
And the thrill of the tangible goes both ways. For 11 months of the year, Amy Levine never ventures to her mailbox in Loveland, Colo., precisely when the postman arrives. But for the four weeks her daughters Lindsey, 11, and Josie, 7, were at Blue Star Camps in Hendersonville, N.C., this summer, she would run out to wait for him.
At the scheduled mail-drop time, "my husband instant-messages me, asking if we got any letters," says Levine, 41, a childhood camper turned Web developer who does let technology creep into her ritual: She quickly scans the girls' letters and e-mails them to her husband at work.
"Once you get that first happy letter, it's OK," Levine says.

By 
Olivia Barker, USA TODAY
MILFORD, Pa.
At Overnight Summer Camps, children are given the choice to take risks and try new things. This voluntary nature makes children more open to new experiences, with personal satisfaction as their motivation. Not only are there opportunities to try new things, but camp offers many areas for children to excel in. At a good general interest camp, the non-athlete can shine at arts and crafts, woodworking, or dramatic programs...
while the athlete can also find many outlets for their skills. Perhaps most importantly, the two campers learn to live together and become friends despite their varied interests.

Kids Summer Camps offer many opportunities to become competent. Practicing both new and old skills on a regular basis, it makes sense that there will be improvement. Novices have chances to learn, while those who are more experienced can improve. Learning new skills and improving on old ones builds self-esteem. Children become more independent and self-reliant at camp with their new found skills.

Sending your child to camp is giving them an opportunity to try something new. No matter how many after-school programs or lessons a child takes, its likely they will never have the opportunity to try all that is offered at summer camp. In a supportive environment, the child can try at something new. The interesting twist to these activities is that, since campers often don't know anyone else at camp before they go, they are more willing to try activities that their friends at home might not expect them to. The athlete can try out for the camp play, while the artist may dabble in sports. At camp, children can try new things and set their own goals for success.

Though years later, your child may not remember capture the flag games or the words to a camp song, the life lessons learned at camp will remain. At camp, a child learns how to take responsibility. The child who has never before made a bed, will learn how to smooth out sheets and blankets and tidy up a cubby. Though counselors will remind and encourage, campers quickly take responsibility for personal hygiene, and for more minor health issues, a camper learns to articulate what hurts and how to get help. All of this personal responsibility further fosters a sense of independence and self-esteem. Camp also improves a child's social skills by making new friends and learning how to reach out to strangers. At camp, children learn to get along with others, all while living together 24 hours a day, learning about courtesy, compromise, teamwork, and respect. Minnesota Camps

During a recent survey of campers in 20 different camps that where accredited by the American Camping Association provided answers to questions like "What did you learn at camp?" "How are you different in school because of what you did at camp last summer?" "How do you feel differently about yourself since you've been to camp?" American Camp Association

Can you think of things you learned and did at camp last summer that helped you in school this year? * I learned to have more patience and to appreciate the things I have. (10 year old female) * I feel that I am better at interacting with friends and family. The people skills learned at camp affected me dramatically when I went home. (15 year old male) * Leadership, organization, water-skiing, make my bed, keep my stuff clean, to keep in touch with my friends, respect, how to handle pressure. (13 year old female)

If explaining camp to friends, what would you say you learn here? * You learn mostly how to interact with different kinds of people and are open to different ideas. You learn how to cooperate well with others who share and don't share the same opinions as you. (15 year old female) * I learned to have fun, be a leader, discipline, and most of all - respect. (12 year old male) * You learn how to make new friends, learn different sports, and learn that camp can be a very good part of summer! (9 year old female)

Do you feel differently about yourself when you are at camp? * I feel differently because I feel like I am accomplishing something by being here. (13 year old female) * At school there are defined groups of people, but at camp, everyone feels wanted. (15 year old female) * Yes, because I'm with people my age and people who respect everyone. (11 year old male) * At camp I think that I can do more and be proud of myself. (13 year old female) * At camp I have a personality that is different from home. I'm less cautious to do fun or exciting things. I don't feel as alone as I sometimes do at home. (14 year old male) * When I'm at camp I feel that I can be more open with myself and others. I tell people things at camp I wouldn't speak of back home. I feel so much more in tune with myself here and I can discuss issues so much more openly. (15 year old male) * I don't have to be fake to anyone. Everyone here accepts me as I am and I'm not judged or criticized. (15 year old female)

Given the benefits of a sleepaway camp, it seems that all children should enroll. There are camps for almost all children, including those with special needs. However, there are certainly children who are not ready for an overnight camp experience. Be sure you and your child are ready to leave home.

Find out how to pick the
 Best Summer Camps.
If you went to overnight camp as a child you can always tell a favorite story you can still remember in exact detail, down to the smell of that pine forest. Memories of summer camp are lifelong reminders of lessons with a lifetime’s worth of value with friends you haven’t forgotten.
Children’s camp can provide a child with opportunities for never ending daily fun the way few other places can. Pure, nonstop fun would be reason enough for anyone to want to be at a sleep away camp, but resident camp offers even more to a child’s unfolding life, and the best camps offer a wealth of benefits..

Summer camps are healthy! Exercise is a part of any child’s life of play, and camp is a natural provider of constant, safe, imaginative physical play. This brings opportunities for every camper’s intellect and imagination to get plenty of exercise at the same time. 

Kids at coed camps learn how to relate with members of the other gender as friends and equals. Skills of social interaction are creative and independent but stay in keeping with each child’s family teachings. Guided by adult friends and capable role models, counselors, campers get a valuable chance to apply what they have been taught at home in a larger social world. 

Campers grow to find and be themselves, in a natural setting that gently challenges a child to newer and higher standards for their own behavior. The kids camp daily context is activities that encourage perseverance, listening skills, teamwork, and the ability to recognize similarities and appreciate differences in each individual. If it’s a nature camp or an animals camp, kids get even more opportunities to relate with the creatures of the natural worlds around us. Self discovery can become a habit that lasts a lifetime.

Jeff and Lonnie Lorenz, directors of Wisconsin’s Swift Nature Camp for almost fifteen years, believe summer camp is a unique opportunity for dimensional childcare at the best value. The camp experience will add to ordinary child care the making of memories, the opportunity to come to a new place and try new things, the chance to gain skills and independence, and the time to make new and lifelong friends.
If you and your youngster have talked and decided that he or she is ready for summer camp, there is a place to begin. A free Summer Campwebsite has been created by experienced directors of a long established camp to help you choose the best one for your child. This article will offer you some basic tips that can help you in making a well...

Informed decision

 

Choose a camp taking into account the requirements and desires of your youngster beyond your own preferences. Include your child in the search process and have an ongoing discussion about the important things that you and your kid want from attending the camp. A child is going to want to do what he or she thinks will be fun, and that really IS important. As a parent do you want your child to enhance particular skills, learn independence in a safe envoronment, or develop self-confidence? Together, take note of his or her special interests and find out if your child has any intellectual, social or physical issues that require consideration. Summer camp populations may be all girls, all boys, brother and sister or co-ed. At co-ed summer camps, boys and girls do participate in many supervised camp activities together. They share use of amenities such as dining halls and swimming and waterfront areas. Brother and sister camps provide structured opportunities for social interaction but most of the time facilities and activities are separate for girls and boys. Private summer camps are more expensive than nonprofit summer camps, but price does not always equate with the quality of a young camper's experience at that camp. It is recommended to anticipate extra expenses involved in choosing and going to summer camp such as extra canoe trip or activity charges and the cost of your visit to the camp. When you contact a camp you are considering, the director should be happy to give you complete information about the true cost of that camp. Keep in mind as you discuss this or other topics that the attitude of a camp's directors and staff will have more bearing on your child's experience than the cost. Typically the duration of a camp can range from one to eight weeks. Consider your child's readiness to be away from home, for days or overnight. Ongoing discussion with your child will be helpful, especially for balancing fear with anticipation and excitement. A first time camper will often face an adjustment and that may be temporarily challenging for some kids. Find out how the camp accommodates and deals with a first time camper's homesickness and the initial adjustment to camp life. A conversation about this area with a camp's director can also show you if the attitude so important to a good experience of camp is going to be there when your child arrives. Your child may want to join a camp with friends. Although it is natural for a youngster to want to go to camp with his or her friends, there are times when there is value in time away from accustomed peer pressures. When it comes to learning independence and developing self confidence there can be an advantage to starting fresh in an unfamiliar environment. Children usually have boundaries and achievement pressures when in school and at home, but at summer camp they are free to try different things with new friends. With the help of knowledgeable staff and counselors in the camp, campers of all ages can safely find out what works best and what doesn't in terms of interpersonal relationships. You can find out more about how to bring these opportunities to your child's life by visiting www.summercampadvice.com.
Summer camp can be a bridge to the world over which a child can carry the seeds of attributes already planted at home and in school. The right summer camp can be the ideal first step away from home and family, because a good summer camp is still a safe environment for learning independence. Summer camp is a place for fun and the joy and passion of growth free from the stress of modern fascination for achievement. Camp is a respite from the technology that can rule a child’s life and distract from human attributes rather than being a tool to implement them. A camper can discover and develop attributes like these over the course of every summer and have a great deal of fun doing so.........

Affirmation:  Sometimes one simple word of affirmation can change an entire life. Recognition from outside can turn into recognition from the inside. also known as confidence.
Art: Everyone who wants to create… can. The world just needs more people who want to, and a child who is free from the pressure of competitive achievement is free to be creative.
Challenge:  Encourage a child to dream big dreams. In turn, they will accomplish more than they thought possible… and probably even more than you thought possible.
Compassion/Justice:  Life isn’t fair. It never will be – there are just too many variables. But when a wrong has been committed or a playing field can be leveled, we want our children to be active in helping to level it.
Contentment:  The need for more material things can be contagious. Therefore, one of the greatest gifts we can give children is a genuinely content appreciation for with what they have… leaving them to find out who they are.
Curiosity:  Children need a safe place outside the home to ask questions about who, what, where, how, why, and why not. “Stop asking so many questions” are words that need never be heard.
Determination: One of the greatest determining factors of success is the exercise of will. Children flourish when they are given independent opportunities to learn how to find the source of determination within themselves and exercise that determination.
Discipline: Discipline is really a form of concentration learned from the ground up, in arenas that include appropriate behaviors, how to get along with others, how to get results, and how to achieve dreams. Properly encouraged, self discipline can come to be developed into an self sustaining habit.
Encouragement: Words are powerful. They can create or they can destroy. The simple words that a counselor or mentor might choose to speak can offer encouragement and create positive thoughts for a child to build from.  
Finding Beauty:  Beauty surrounds us. A natural environment can inspire our children find beauty in everything they see and in everyone they meet there.
Generosity: The experience of generosity is a great way for a child to learn it. Generosity is a consistent quality of heart regardless of whether the medium that reflects it is time, energy or material things.
Honesty/Integrity:  Children who learn the value and importance of honesty at a young age have a far greater opportunity to become honest adults. And honest adults who deal truthfully with others tend to feel better about themselves, enjoy their lives more, and sleep better at night.
Hope: Hope means knowing that things will get better and improve and believing it. Hope is the source of strength, endurance, and resolve. And in the desperately difficult times of life, it calls us to press onward.
Imagination: If we’ve learned anything in recent years, it’s that life is changing faster and faster with every passing day. The world of tomorrow will look nothing like the world today. And the people with imagination are the ones not just living it, they are creating it.
Intentionality: This word means the habit of pausing to find the intent behind each of the ongoing choices that comprise our lives. It is the moment of reflection toward one’s own source: slow down, consider who you are, your environment, where you are going and how to get there.  
Lifelong Learning: A passion for learning is different from just studying to earn a grade or please teachers. It begins in the home and school but can be splendidly expanded at summer camp. A camper has fun being safely exposed, asking questions, analyzing the answers that expose more and having more fun doing it all again. In other words, learn to love learning itself.
Meals Together: Meals together provide an unparalleled opportunity for relationships to grow, the likes of which can not be found anywhere else.
Nature: Children who learn to appreciate the world around them take care of the world around them.
Opportunity: Kids need opportunities to experience new things so they can find out what they enjoy and what they are good at. 
Optimism: Pessimists don’t change the world. Optimists do.
Pride: Celebrate the little things in life. After all, it is the little accomplishments in life that become the big accomplishments. Pride in the process is as important as pride in the results.
Room to make mistakes: Kids are kids. That’s what makes them so much fun… and so desperately in need of our patience. We need to give them room to experiment, explore, and make mistakes early, when consequences are so much less severe.
Self-Esteem: People who learn to value themselves are more likely to have self-confidence, self-esteem, and self-worth. As a result, they are more likely to become adults who respect their own values and stick to them… even when no one else does.
Sense of Humor: We need to provoke laughter with children and laugh with them everyday… for our sake and theirs.
Spirituality: Faith elevates our view of the universe, our world, and our lives. We would be wise to instill into our kids that they are more than just flesh and blood taking up space. They are also made of mind, heart, soul, and will. And decisions in their life should be based on more than just what everyone else with flesh and blood is doing.
Stability: A stable environment becomes the foundation on which children build the rest of their lives. Just as they need to know their place in the family, children need an opportunity to learn how to make their place amongst their peers. Children benefit from having a safe place to learn how stability is made and maintained outside the home.  
Time: Time is the only real currency.Children can learn to believe to respect the value of time long before they come to realize how quickly it can pass.
Undivided Attention: There is no substitute for undivided attention, whether it comes from a parent, a teacher, a mentor, or a camp counselor.
Uniqueness: What makes us different is what makes us special. Uniqueness should not be hidden. It should be proudly displayed for the world to see, appreciate, and enjoy.
A Welcoming Place: To know that you are always welcome in a place is among the sweetest and most life-giving assurances in the world.
Along with lifelong friendships, the recognition and development of these attributes is the lasting gift of a child’s experience at summer camp. A summer at camp is the most fun possible way a child gets to experience what it is to be human.
Summer camp is usually thought of in terms of all the traditional activities and facilities that come to our mind, and those elements are indeed part of what makes the experience memorable. But the true essence of the experience of summer camp is human connection. The attributes in this article are qualities that are rediscovered and expanded by interaction with counselors, staff and other campers in a natural setting. The best summer camps are carefully staffed and creatively programmed by directors with this concept in mind.  As one director put it, “Our hope is to give the world better people one camper at a time.”
At Overnight Summer Camps, children are given the choice to take risks and try new things. This voluntary nature makes children more open to new experiences, with personal satisfaction as their motivation. Not only are there opportunities to try new things, but camp offers many areas for children to excel in. At a good general interest camp, the non-athlete can shine at arts and crafts, woodworking, or dramatic programs... while the athlete can also find many outlets for their skills. Perhaps most importantly, the two campers learn to live together and become friends despite their varied interests.

Kids Summer Camps offer many opportunities to become competent. Practicing both new and old skills on a regular basis, it makes sense that there will be improvement. Novices have chances to learn, while those who are more experienced can improve. Learning new skills and improving on old ones builds self-esteem. Children become more independent and self-reliant at camp with their new found skills.

Sending your child to camp is giving them an opportunity to try something new. No matter how many after-school programs or lessons a child takes, its likely they will never have the opportunity to try all that is offered at summer camp. In a supportive environment, the child can try at something new. The interesting twist to these activities is that, since campers often don't know anyone else at camp before they go, they are more willing to try activities that their friends at home might not expect them to. The athlete can try out for the camp play, while the artist may dabble in sports. At camp, children can try new things and set their own goals for success.

Though years later, your child may not remember capture the flag games or the words to a camp song, the life lessons learned at camp will remain. At camp, a child learns how to take responsibility. The child who has never before made a bed, will learn how to smooth out sheets and blankets and tidy up a cubby. Though counselors will remind and encourage, campers quickly take responsibility for personal hygiene, and for more minor health issues, a camper learns to articulate what hurts and how to get help. All of this personal responsibility further fosters a sense of independence and self-esteem. Camp also improves a child's social skills by making new friends and learning how to reach out to strangers. At camp, children learn to get along with others, all while living together 24 hours a day, learning about courtesy, compromise, teamwork, and respect. Minnesota Camps

During a recent survey of campers in 20 different camps that where accredited by the American Camping Association provided answers to questions like "What did you learn at camp?" "How are you different in school because of what you did at camp last summer?" "How do you feel differently about yourself since you've been to camp?" American Camp Association

Can you think of things you learned and did at camp last summer that helped you in school this year? * I learned to have more patience and to appreciate the things I have. (10 year old female) * I feel that I am better at interacting with friends and family. The people skills learned at camp affected me dramatically when I went home. (15 year old male) * Leadership, organization, water-skiing, make my bed, keep my stuff clean, to keep in touch with my friends, respect, how to handle pressure. (13 year old female)

If explaining camp to friends, what would you say you learn here? * You learn mostly how to interact with different kinds of people and are open to different ideas. You learn how to cooperate well with others who share and don't share the same opinions as you. (15 year old female) * I learned to have fun, be a leader, discipline, and most of all - respect. (12 year old male) * You learn how to make new friends, learn different sports, and learn that camp can be a very good part of summer! (9 year old female)

Do you feel differently about yourself when you are at camp? * I feel differently because I feel like I am accomplishing something by being here. (13 year old female) * At school there are defined groups of people, but at camp, everyone feels wanted. (15 year old female) * Yes, because I'm with people my age and people who respect everyone. (11 year old male) * At camp I think that I can do more and be proud of myself. (13 year old female) * At camp I have a personality that is different from home. I'm less cautious to do fun or exciting things. I don't feel as alone as I sometimes do at home. (14 year old male) * When I'm at camp I feel that I can be more open with myself and others. I tell people things at camp I wouldn't speak of back home. I feel so much more in tune with myself here and I can discuss issues so much more openly. (15 year old male) * I don't have to be fake to anyone. Everyone here accepts me as I am and I'm not judged or criticized. (15 year old female)

Given the benefits of a sleepaway camp, it seems that all children should enroll. There are camps for almost all children, including those with special needs. However, there are certainly children who are not ready for an overnight camp experience. Be sure you and your child are ready to leave home.

Find out how to pick the
 Best Summer Camps.
At long last, parents of children who are going to summer camp for the first time have a choice available that is directly tailored to the needs of their child. After listening for years to parents and children expressing what they feel is important for a positive first time summer camp experience, Jeff and Lonnie Lorenz, directors of Swift Nature Camp, have created Discovery Camp, a program designed to meet the specific needs of all new campers and their parents.
At long last, parents of children who are going to summer camp for the first time have a choice available that is directly tailored to the needs of their child. After listening for years to parents and children expressing what they feel is important for a positive first time summer camp experience, Jeff and Lonnie Lorenz, directors of Swift Nature Camp, have created Discovery Camp, a program designed to meet the specific needs of all new campers and their parents.

Discovery Camp is a twelve-day First Timer’s Program offered at the Swift Nature Camp facilities near Minong, Wisconsin. The program utilizes Swift Camp's highly trained staff at a ratio of two staff members for every cabin of eight new campers. The first time at summer camp will quite possibly be a child's first extended time away from home. The program acknowledges this by making sure that every new camper will find a staff member on hand at all times. First time campers need to feel special, and the first priority of this program is to foster the sense that camp is there for them and exists for their benefit.

* Prior to each camper's arrival, the staff studies the informational packet for that person. They learn about each child and gain awareness of specific individual needs. If any camper has medical circumstances or special needs these will discussed by the staff in confidence with the camp nurse. By the time a child arrives at camp, the staff will feel as if they already know that new camper. This preparation is immediately beneficial to the first-time camper from the moment he or she steps off the bus and is warmly and personally greeted.

The first day of Discovery Camp is Orientation Day. New campers get a complete tour of Swift Nature Camp, including a visit to the HealthCenter, the Mail Box, and every activity area. Every activity is introduced with a discussion about the importance of safety and the basic safety information for that activity.

Staff members work hard to promote an atmosphere of nurturing and harmonious friendship from the campers’ first day of cabin life. There is a Respect List for all to agree to and sign, and each night will end with a bedtime story. The cabin is the place where community begins. First time campers are gently brought into a sense of connection and community with others who begin on equal footing.

At Discovery Camp, first time campers are introduced to Swift Camp’s well rounded noncompetitive variety of camp activities. Each morning a cabin’s campers are invited to instruction at two activity areas. These activities include Swimming, Canoeing, Nature Center, Arts and Crafts, Archery, and more. The new campers are encouraged to try new and different activities, giving each of them the opportunity to discover and explore what activities he or she might enjoy and eventually excel in. In the afternoon, campers learn how to make their own choices from the activity board, making their own decisions about which activity to pursue that day.

Swift Nature Camp aims to encourage each child to learn independence in a safe, age appropriate environment. The twelve day first-timer program is set up to run the optimum length of time for a first time camper to leave homesickness behind and gain a comfortable sense of autonomy. For many of these campers the greatest first lesson camp teaches them is that they can leave home, return days later and find out that very few things will have changed, especially their parents' love for them.

The directors of Swift Nature Camp think it's important that parents know that their children's first time away from home is in a safe, nurturing and secure environment. As a part of the Discovery Camp's first timer program, parents are encouraged to visit at any time after the first five days.

Parents who would like to find out if this is the right first-time summer camp experience for their child are encouraged to speak with other parents who have had their children attend Swift Nature Camp. A list of references is readily available for that purpose. Discovery Camp, a special program for the first time summer camp experience, is finally available to suit the needs of campers and parents alike!
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Winter

25 Baybrook Ln.

Oak Brook, IL 60523

Phone: 630-654-8036

swiftcamp@aol.com

Camp

W7471 Ernie Swift Rd.

Minong, WI 54859

Phone: 715-466-5666

swiftcamp@aol.com