Many of us parents think of camp as a place to send our elementary-age kids so they aren’t sitting around the house bored all summer; we also know our kiddos will make friends, learn new things, have fun and make memories at camp. But as kids grow older, we sometimes forget that they still need those kinds of experiences — just in a different form.
Maybe you don’t think your teen needs summer camp. Your teen should be babysitting, mowing lawns, working at the pool or hanging around with friends, right? Well, sure! But why not send them off for a week or more of summer fun and learning this year? Here are nine great benefits teens experience when they attend summer camp:
Learning how to give back.
Community service camps offer a great chance for teens to make a difference while also developing skills that will carry them through their lives. Maybe your teen will learn how to pack food for the homeless, teach kids how to read or work on a project that will benefit the community, such as cleaning up a playground or fixing equipment. They could even learn how to paint a house, maintain a yard for an elderly person who is unable to do so anymore, or even learn how to plan and build a house for a family in need.
Making new friends.
Some teens attend the same camp or camps every summer and might reunite with the friends they’ve made there, year after year. Campers who are attending for the very first time can hone their social skills by making new friends and getting to know other kids outside of their typical school setting. Being in close proximity for days or weeks helps kids get closer, faster.
Learning new things.
Whether your teen attends a camp to learn more about horses, adventure, a specific sport or anything else, they have an entire day, week or longer to focus on that one activity and really immerse themselves in it. Your teen might discover a new passion that could be helpful in their education or work life later on.
Deepening their faith.
If your teen enjoys church youth groups and activities, a church or other organized religious camp could just be the ticket. The day might begin with a church service, followed by breakfast, then a hike and other activities. Later, there could be singing songs around a bonfire while roasting s’mores.
Developing a hobby.
When your child is unplugged from the TV, video game console or smartphone, they can really concentrate on developing a hobby. These days, there seems to be a camp for pretty much any interest your kid has.
Working as a team.
Your teen will be meeting kids and counselors of different ages and from different backgrounds. Learning how to get along and work as a team is a huge life skill that is developed and reinforced at camp. Some camps even have kids do team- and trust-building activities to help them get to know each other.
Forget sitting around absorbed in “screen time” all day long during the summer! When teens attend camp, they often forget all about tech amusements and focus on having fun with their friends while going on hikes, boating, swimming and more.
Standing on their own.
Let’s face it: As our kids get older, they start to grow away from us. They are simply preparing to head out on their own and they are also preparing you for that transition by perhaps being a little distant. Teens are stuck between childhood and adulthood, and it’s a confusing time. Going away to camp for even a short period of time helps foster independence.
Away from screens (yes, I keep fixating on this one), it’s easier to focus on nature, learning, forming relationships and more. After being away from home and their parents, kids often return with a newfound appreciation for what it takes to be in a family and help out in the running of the household. Your teen will probably come back also appreciating things they once took for granted, such as a full pantry that’s open all day, their comfy bed and privacy!
Teen summer camp has so many benefits that cover all the bases — physical, social, mental and spiritual. As for the rest of the summer? Well, your teen can spend plenty of time doing those odd jobs to help pay for camp next year!