As the end of the school year draws near, so does the beginning of summer camp experiences. Child development experts say that summer camps offer more than just fun; they present opportunities for emotional, social and psychological growth and development.
“Summer camps provide children with a sense of community where they can feel safe and learn through first-hand experiences, said Stacie Gottlieb, director, Bullis Summer Programs at Bullis School in Potomac, Md. “Within this setting, campers develop a sense of independence as they try new adventures in an environment different from the norm.”
Children benefit from the nurturing structure of a summer camp in a way that is different from the structure they get during a school year, says Jim Supple, associate dean of students and director of Summer Programs at St. Stephen’s & St. Agnes School in Alexandria. “Summer camps allow children to be children,” he said. “They allow them to make new friends, try new things, and learn how to be part of a group. These are attributes of camps that will promote not only healthy interaction among peers, but also building a healthy image of what type of child they want to be.”
Opportunities to explore new interests and devote intense focus to activities of particular interest to them at camp help build a child’s self-confidence, says Gottlieb. “As children explore, caring adults serve as responsible role models who help to nurture the campers by providing a safe, supervised environment of inclusion,” she said. “Children gain self-confidence as they learn new things, develop social skills, expand their friendship circles and build character through planned activities. Summer camps give children a unique, fun environment to discover more about themselves and their passions.”
A summer camp where children engage in new and memorable activities will sow seeds for learning during the upcoming academic year, said Shannon Melideo, Ph. D. associate dean of the School of Education & Human Services and associate professor of education at Marymount University. “For example, if your child’s summer camp takes a field trip to a historical site that your son finds fascinating and then during the school year, the teacher introduces [the] same historical events and location, he has schema for the lessons. He is more likely to participate, learn more, be better prepared to read his social studies textbook, and even perform better on the exam.”
Summer camp experiences that combine academic challenges and physical activity can offer fun while preventing the loss of academic gains made throughout the school year, says Melideo. “Summer slide is the resultant learning loss students experience without educational activities outside of the academic school year,” she said. “Research shows such academic regressions can be quite significant and parents have the ability to help prevent the summer slide by providing educational experiences such as high quality summer camps.”
“Summer camp can be a terrific opportunity to grow your child’s sense of competence and mastery over something that they love,” added Carolyn Lorente, Ph.D., professor of psychology, Northern Virginia Community College. “By picking a camp where your child has an interest, they can be mentored in a passion in ways that a typical school day often can’t.”
WHEN SELECTING A CAMP, Melideo advises parents to consider a complete picture of their child. “For example, while your daughter, Sophia loves softball, find a summer camp where she can refine [her] batting and pitching skills and engage with books, perform in skits, play math games, and try something new,” she said.
A child’s social skills can be boosted at camps which provide children with opportunities to make new friends or nurture existing friendships, says Colleen K. Vesely, Ph. D., assistant professor of Early Childhood Education and Human Development at George Mason University. “Developing new social and cognitive skills outside the physical walls and social boundaries of school can help promote healthy self-esteem in children, while spending time in nature can boost children’s overall health and well-being.”
Camps offer an opportunity for children to gain skills that lead to independence. “For older children, over 8-plus years old, typically, sleep away camp offers opportunities to develop independence and self-reliance by providing children with space to navigate daily life away from the directing of parents but under the guidance of trusted adults,” said Vesely.
For some parents, there are mixed emotions around enrolling a child in camp. “Sometimes working parents feel guilty for enrolling their children in summer camps because of the need for child care during the work day,” said Ivy Beringer, Ed.D., professor of Early Childhood Education and Dean for Social and Professional Sciences at Northern Virginia Community College. “However, children are usually very excited to attend summer camps. This is especially true if the children have input into the camp selection.”
“Summer camps allow for continuous learning that extends beyond the regular school year [and] provide a relaxed atmosphere that stimulates their brains for creative learning without the assessment anxiety that often accompanies school classroom learning,” said Beringer. “[Summer camp] enhances self-esteem by offering special interest learning in small group situations and often with a lower adult-student ratio in school settings.”
“A mother recently called me with a concern that her son only wanted to attend soccer camps this summer and she felt this was too limited of an experience,” continued Beringer. “My response to her was that if he was interested in improving his soccer skills she should view this in a positive light. After all, he will be outdoors in the fresh air and sunshine everyday, exercising his body, and enhancing skills in a sport he loves. What’s not good about that choice?”
January 23, 2017
Tom Rosenberg, President/CEO
Spring semester is now in full swing; so, if you are a college student, you may already be thinking about what internship position you want to secure for the summer.
But instead of an internship, consider taking on a different kind of summer job – one at camp.
If you are unsure whether that is the right choice for you, here are three reasons you should take a summer job at camp.
1. At camp, you are responsible for more than just yourself.
When you work at camp, you get to work as a mentor, role model and hero to children ages 6-15. Your campers’ parents are not there, so you must act in a parent-like role for a group of children who will rely on you for almost everything during the time they are there. You are there to ensure that your campers are happy, have their individual needs met and have the time of their life. You’ll also be a part of the staff team and will be encouraged to give of yourself to your group and to the camp staff team more than you ever thought possible. At camp, the more you invest yourself in everything you do, the more you will get out of the experience.
2. You get to work in an inspirational environment.
At an internship, you may spend more time in front of a copier or coffee machine than developing valuable skills that will truly prepare you for the workplace. That will not happen if you work at camp. Instead, you will hone your leadership, communication, and problem-solving skills, all in a beautiful setting. You will manage yourself and the campers under your care. You will get to try new things and push yourself out of your comfort zone.
3. You can develop professional skills to take with you throughout your career.
The Partnership for 21st Century Learning (P21) emphasizes the following essential life and career skills: flexibility and adaptability; initiative and self-direction; social and cross-cultural skills; productivity and accountability; and leadership and responsibility.
A job at camp will help you develop these skills – and so many more. You will learn flexibility and adaptability, as you work with a variety of people ranging from children to camp directors. You will show initiative and problem-solving when any unexpected circumstances arise. You will be exposed to a multi-cultural community of both campers and counselors and understand what it means to build a caring, supportive community. You will demonstrate accountability as you work to keep children safe and happy. But more than all of this, you will gain a sense of self-fulfillment as you see your campers try new activities, reach their goals, and grow in confidence.
It’s exciting to watch camp staffers become inspired to work professionally with children and youth as social workers, teachers, outdoor educators, psychologists, and clergy. Work at summer camp prepares you for a myriad of careers. I have had the pleasure of working with camp staffers who have gone on to work in the White House, in medicine, in academia, as movie producers, as entrepreneurs, and more. Working at camp expands your career possibilities far more than you might imagine.
Throughout my career, I have had the opportunity to meet with a variety of professionals, ranging from business to the nonprofit sector, education to religion. The common thread of those conversations, more often than not, is camp. And, to be honest, I’m not surprised. The skills developed and the experiences gained through a job at camp are universally in demand, regardless of your ultimate career path. So before you hit the submit button for an internship application, consider camp. I guarantee it will be the most impactful workforce development experience of your life.
After each camp season I spend a few days unwinding, relaxing & thinking about highlights from the past summer. Two highlights that are always close to the top for me are the opening & closing campfires. We don’t photograph or video these events and I think that’s one thing that makes them so special. You have to be a part of camp to experience them.
The opening campfire is always very short. I talk to the campers about how quickly 3 weeks goes by and how they should take advantage of everything that camp has to offer. After a few other talks from admin we roast marshmallows and call it a night. The magic happens after 3 weeks during our final campfire. Everyone gets up in front of the entire camp (very few could imagine doing this at the opening fire) and talk about what the summer and what BSC has meant to them. The younger boys talk about making friends and getting better at their major sport. The older ones go more in depth about what camp has meant to them and the friendships that now carry on throughout the year. I am always so proud at this final fire for two reasons. One, I know that I wouldn’t have been as comfortable as these campers are to get up in front of a group to share my feelings and two, they get it. Our campers understand exactly what camp is all about and the reasons that BSC is a special place for so many people.
I want to thank Carol, Adria & Max for the blog posts & pictures. We hope that the blog/pictures were able to give you insight into what your children were experiencing at camp on a daily basis.
Have a great rest of the summer and can’t wait to see everyone back at camp in 2017!
The Humpback Whales are the Session 2 2016 BSL Champs! Congrats to them and to all of the teams on an incredible season.
It is one more spectacular day here at camp—what a way to finish out our session and season! Color War activities consumed most of the day (and we took a few breaks to do some cleaning and packing!) and the evening will finish with our Banquet (where all staff and campers enjoy a delicious meal together and celebrate the season) and our Final Campfire.
Thank you, once again, for a great summer. We wish everyone a wonderful year ahead, and we can’t wait to see you all next summer!
Day two of Color War was busy! Campers spent the entire day in Color War competition. There were guys dressed in yellow and red sprinting from event to event as they earned points in soccer, handball and basketball. Everyone took advantage of rest-hour to re-fuel for the afternoon’s continuation of games.
Before dinner, we enjoyed the Color War Hockey Game (tons of cheering from both teams as their friends competed on the ice!) Following the hockey game, the rink was open to the whole camp for a free-skate.
Dinner was a camp favorite-cookout night!
And finally, our evening ended with the BSL Championship Games. We will update you tomorrow when we can announce the Session 2 2016 BSL Champs!
Color War has begun! This morning at breakfast, we had a great surprise. While we were listening to the day’s announcements, the front doors burst open and Slugger, the awesome Sea Dogs’ Mascot, came running in to Break Color War! The teams were divided up and everyone headed to the gym for the first event—Dodgeball!
Throughout the next few days, campers will compete in all sorts of games and activities to earn points for their teams (this year we have the red team-Cavaliers and the yellow team-Penguins). Today, there was a big kickball game, a “Chopped” cooking competition, and a “Jeopardy” contest.
In between Color War events, there is still time for the boys to get work-outs in, in their majors, and we are still waiting to crown the BSL Champs of the session. This evening’s activities included games in flag football, street hockey and ultimate Frisbee.
It has been a spectacular, Maine, summer day outside—the sun was shining all day and it is a perfect temperature for sleeping tonight!
The fishing report was excellent—in at least two of the periods, multiple fish were reeled in! I think the boys have really become experts this session. Another group of campers were still excited about the handball and volleyball games they had played in, and this was hours after the games had concluded! And finally in minors’ news, the golfers hit the driving range for some practice and the archery counselor reported a few more Bulls-Eyes!
The lacrosse majors did a 4v3 drill and then worked on fast breaks and ended the day with a full-field 3 on 2 drill. Basketball ran 3 of the more complex drills for the majority of practice and then finished with a scrimmage. And on the soccer field, they are mastering the quick-possession drill and then finished with shooting drills and a scrimmage. Coach Warde has the hockey guys in great shape and they are holding some competitive scrimmages in the afternoon sessions.
It was a big day in the dining hall–we all enjoyed waffles with an assortment of fresh fruit and berries for breakfast, and then had our final Taco Tuesday lunch. This evening there were 5 different types of pizza and soda!
Tonight the boys are involved with the BSL play-offs. It is hard to believe we are almost ready to declare champsions!
This morning, the campers returned to their weekday schedules and went about doing their work-outs in their majors and for a while in the afternoon, regular outdoor activities were altered a bit due to a much needed rain-shower. The campers enjoyed an entertaining Bingo session, a free-skate at the rink and some games in the gym. We are lucky to have so many great indoor arenas to use on the rare, rainy day!
The minors I observed today were weight-training and fitness, where the 12-and-under group ran a medicine ball relay and did other fitness drills, and volleyball-where I caught the action in the middle of a close game between the 13-and-over group.
As always, we have been well-fed today. The campers especially loved the French toast at breakfast and the chicken sandwiches at lunch!
This evening (still a little rainy here), there will be free-play in the gym, a movie in the Humanities Center, and some games in the Wolverine Den (I heard that a ping pong tournament was in the works!).
An overcast, cooler day set the stage for a perfect “Lazy Bones Sunday”. Campers slumbered late and then feasted on the breakfast and Dunkin Donuts treats. Sundays are quite low-key in the mornings, and the guys enjoy this time to take things more slowly than usual. However, by late morning, everyone is usually ready for some activity!
This week, the 1st Sunday special event was broomball and the campers had a blast playing this crazy variation of hockey/street hockey. Each group, Rookies, Pro’s and Seniors, had a designated game and time up at the Ice Rink.
Lunch today was an assortment of fajitas, salads and M&M cookies, and following the meal, the counselors introduced a new BSC activity/competition called “Dorm Wars.” The contests, among the floors in each of the dorms, began immediately after “Rest Hour”. The dorms challenged each other in flag football, Whiffle-ball, kickball, and volleyball. Also, held this afternoon were some of the BSL play-off games.
The evening activity is phone calls home and then free play!
Yesterday’s rain was quickly replaced by another bright, sunny day! After an exciting Casino Night, the campers enjoyed a little sleep-in this morning and then moved on to a morning dedicated to their majors.
In basketball, they concentrated on post player work. Drills included a focus on drop-step and up and under moves. During the second half of practice, all players did a conditioning workout with plenty of sprints. They concluded the morning with free-throw practice. It was an excellent effort overall!
Up at the rink, Coach Warde continues to see improvement as the players work through the series of drills that are now become more and more familiar. The scrimmages are starting to look quite impressive as the skills learned are implemented into real game situations.
“Suit-Up Saturday” was the highlight on the lacrosse field. Coaches and staff dressed and participated along with the lacrosse majors in a 7v7 scrimmage. They also worked on fast-breaks and the goalies had individual work-outs with their coach.
Baseball majors had a great morning going through the competitive drills and playing Home Run Derby, Fly Ball and Ground Ball Knock-Out and doing running drills. Again, Coach tracks running times so that the players can see their progress throughout the session.
And last, but certainly not least, the soccer players continue to perfect their passing skills by concentrating on multi-pass series in their grid possession drills. The majority of the morning session today was a full-field scrimmage. The counselors noted that passing was sharp and workout drills are positively affecting the game-play.
There were lots of fans at the 16-and-under baseball inter-camp game this afternoon. Our BSC team walked away with a big win!
This evening, there were some more BSL games after dinner, but the highlight, Movie Night, followed! It was a nice, relaxing evening at Camp—a perfect segue to Lazy Bones Sunday!