Camp Makes Children More Resilient
The following is an excerpt from an article by Michael Ungar, PhD, who says, “the best camps don’t provide cookie-cutter solutions to what kids need. Instead, great camps understand that the factors that make children resilient are cumulative.”
Great camps offer the seven following experiences:
1. New relationships, not just with peers but with trusted adults other than children’s parents. These new relationships teach children social skills to cope with new situations.
2. A powerful identity that makes children feel confident in front of others provides children with something genuine to like about themselves. A child may not be the best on the ropes course, the fastest simmer, or the next teen idol when he sings, but chances are that a good camp counselor is going to help a child find something to be proud of that he can do well.
3. Camps help children feel in control of their lives. Those experiences of self-efficacy travel home as easily as a special art project or the pine cone they carry in their backpack.
4. Camps make sure that all children are treated fairly. The wonderful thing about camp is that every child starts without the baggage they carry from home or school. At camp, kids find opportunities to be valued for who they are.
5. At camp, children get what they need to develop physically. Ideally, they experience fresh air, exercise, a balance between routine and unstructured time, and all the good food their bodies need.
6. Perhaps, best of all, camps offer children a chance to feel like they belong. All those goofy chants and team songs, the sense of common purpose, and the attachment to the identity that camps promote go a long way to offering a children a sense of being rooted.
7. Finally, camps offer children a better sense of their culture. Camps are places where children can think about their values and share with others the everyday practices that make them feel a part of their families, communities, or ethnic group.
Does your child’s camp offer these experiences? Click here to learn more about summer overnight camp at YMCA Camp Cullen, located on the shores of Lake Livingston, just north of Houston in Trinity, Texas. The YMCA also offers various day camps, specialty camps and teen camps all summer long. Find the camp that is right for your child at your neighborhood YMCA today!
Michael Ungar, PhD, is a professor of social work at Dalhousie University and scientific researcher of the Resilience Research Centre. Read Ungar’s full article on camp and resiliency on the American Camp Association website or learn more about Ungar’s research here.