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
PHOTOS COURTESY OF PEXELS
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.
POSITIVE SOCIAL INTERACTION
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.