This past summer one of my friends, who I affectionately refer to as a helicopter-mom, shocked me when she announced, “My kids just returned from a summer sleepaway camp.” Granted, her twins are 12 years old. But this never-ride-a-bike-without-a-helmet, can’t-leave-the-neighborhood-without-an-adult, never-swim-in-natural-bodies-of-water mom had a hard enough time agreeing to sleepovers at a nearby friend’s house. I couldn’t believe she trusted her children to the care of strangers for an entire week! I had to know what caused this dramatic change in my friend’s parenting code.
Though she was initially against sleepaway camp, my friend yielded to her kids once their zealous desire to attend the camp refused to wane even after several weeks. (Takeaway for any kids who are reading this: Persistence pays off!)
After her kids returned, she had several other reasons to staunchly defend her pro-sleepaway camp position. Her kids came back confident, independent, and motivated. In one short week, her kids had transformed into even better versions of their original selves. Since Mom wasn’t at camp to take care of every little problem, the kids had to learn to take responsibility for themselves and it turned out that doing so opened their eyes to how capable they really were. In fact, a lot of things my friend said about the camp reminded me of this list of how summer camps prepare children for adulthood from the Huffington Post.
Other reasons I think sleepaway camps are great for kids:
- Gets them outdoors and away from technology in the guise of a reward not a punishment
- Teaches them new skills (whether it’s a music, sports, or nature camp, most include a curriculum to expand campgoers’ knowledge and skills)
- Exposes them to new people, ideas, and activities
- Gives them a chance to miss Mom & Dad so that the family can be closer when they return
All this being said, sleepaway camp does mean that your child will be away from home in the care of people you probably don’t know very well. So, if you do decide that camp is something you’d like your child to experience, do take care to research the camp (actually contact the parents of previous campgoers and ask questions) before you make a final decision. Also, discuss the camp with your child to make sure it’s something he/she is excited about and that your child knows what to expect.