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Fun in the Sun! THE CAMPS ARE BACK!

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There’s no reason for DB kids to be bored over the holidays, sign them up for a couple of summer camps and they can be busy and constructive instead. Samantha Wong reports


Summer 2022 has brought with it a bumper offering of camps and activities for DB kids, the largest we’ve seen since 2019. Whichever type of camp you choose, your kids will be given the opportunity to be busy and social. They’ll be out of your hair for a few hours a day and vice versa. Hopefully too, away from the pressures and social hierarchies of school, they’ll be able to make new friends and, with the guidance of adult mentors, discover new things about themselves.

So how do you go about choosing a summer camp from the many different options on offer and what’s really in it for the kids?

For many children, school means pressure. Pressure to achieve. Pressure to do things on time. Pressure to learn at someone else’s pace. Some children seem to be wired to meet these challenges, while others are not. For many, the pace and demands of the school setting are overwhelming and, as a result, school can feel defeating. Summer camps encourage and promote pro-social behaviours, and they teach important skills while giving children a break.

For most young people, summer camps provide a breathing space in which the pressure is off. Kids can be kids but at the same time learn and grow in a healthy and positive manner. Many children flourish in a different aspect of their life without the stresses school can bring; they have the chance to feel good about who they are and what they can do.

Summer camps offer more than just the development of new skills, they also provide the building blocks for positive social interaction – a fundamental soft skill required to assist young people as they progress toward adulthood. Camp attendees are faced with activities that are emotionally and psychologically challenging. Placed in a situation where they have to meet new people and triumph over obstacles, kids become more resilient and, importantly, more aware of ‘self.’

At summer camp, children are able to ‘connect’ with their surroundings, other people and themselves. Yes, children have the opportunity to socialise and connect at school but at camp, they have more downtime in which to do so. Along the way, they have the chance to learn deeper empathy and better communications skills – they can gain better respect for others and deepen their social intelligence.

Placed in a new environment with new people, kids learn to value the kindnesses of others and they begin to give of themselves in return. In challenging situations, they learn to be sensitive, to empathise and to support friends who are struggling. While building new friendships, they learn to navigate through group dynamics, manage conflict and accept guidance.

Children learn that to succeed, they must work together. Rather than thinking only of themselves, they begin to see themselves as part of a community, and with this comes a valuable sense of acceptance and belonging.

Importantly too, summer camps often put children in a context where they are interacting with children (and adults) that they do not know. Unhampered by worries about old friends, jealousies or the expectations of the school group, children are free to pal up with anyone they choose. This gives them a chance to overcome shyness and also to experiment with different ways of socialising.

Some of these friendships last, while many will evaporate. It doesn’t matter. What counts, is that children experience getting close to new people, some of whom will be very different from their usual buddies. As a result, they’ll probably learn something about stereotypes, acceptance and understanding. Summer camps teach morals and builds character, while giving children the opportunity to play, laugh and create memories.

Children who are fortunate enough to attend summer camp are lucky indeed because a whole new world of friendship, interests, skills and independence is opened up for them.

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At summer camp, children get the experiences they need to bolster their range of coping strategies. It’s an opportunity for children to face the simple and complex challenges of day-to-day life in a safe environment, such as getting along with a new group of peers, learning how to ask for help, or taking a manageable amount of risk without a parent in attendance.

Children learn to work with each other and their adult mentors, outside of the classroom and family unit. By putting themselves out there and trying new things, kids begin to understand what it takes to succeed in life. They develop decision-making skills to get themselves through challenging situations, and they grow in confidence and flexibility.

By tackling an activity that pushes them outside their comfort zone, children come away with a stronger sense of personal pride and self-reliance. As they progress through a course, their confidence builds and they accomplish tasks that at first seemed impossible. All this builds strength of character, courage and determination.

In choosing a summer camp for your children – with your children if they’re old enough – making sure they are going to have lots of fun has to be a first priority. Moving on from there, you may decide to match your kids’ interests with a course that’s available locally. And with so many different classes on offer across the island, this will likely be a no-brainer. Even within DB itself, you’ll find camps that allow your children to focus on everything from ballet and boxing to Maths and Mandarin.

Looked at this way, your decision-making process is simple enough. Sign your children up for an activity they already enjoy and give them the chance to focus on it, and get seriously good at it. But have you considered going the other way? Rather than enrolling your kids in a course they already know something about, plump for something new and unexpected, something that will expand their horizons.

Let’s say, for instance, that your kids are homebodies and tech obsessed. Any camp you choose will encourage them to unplug and get social, but one that’s based outdoors could be the best bet. Sign them up for a sports course and you’ll see them being physically active and more than that, they’ll be outdoors, connecting with nature in some way.

To keep things interesting, there’s also the option of enrolling children in a classroom-based camp. This is a great way to avoid the ‘summer slide,’ where grade points are lost because of lack of tuition over the holidays. And an educational camp doesn’t have to be dull. Specialised, teacher-led summer courses make learning and problem-solving fun and interactive.

Most summer camps last a week at most, and they’re pretty affordable, so here’s your answer: Sign your kids up for three different courses. This way they’ll be able to explore their favourite hobbies and try something new, while keeping up with their studies. It’s starting to look like a busy, productive and most importantly fun summer!

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