5 Reasons Summer Camp is Beneficial for a Child’s Mental Health

If you are a parent, you are familiar with the healthful glow of your kid in their best moments. They jump all the way from the soccer field to the van, with muddy knees and tussled hair, and a radiant “I-scored-today” smile. Or they invite a friend over and you hear them giggling until it’s time to head home. Or, confronted with a challenge, they problem-solve and you see them stand a little bit taller as they grow in confidence that they can figure it out all on their own.

 

Unfortunately, many opportunities for social connections and growth-full experiences have been limited during the pandemic. Citing isolation as the biggest challenge they face, 64% of Canadian youth reported that their mental health was poor during a 2021 study by the Mental Health Commission of Canada. School closures, postponed sports and Facetime-only friendships have taken a toll on children’s mental and emotional well-being.

 

We need creative solutions to help young people safely socialize and try new things so that they can thrive this year. Summer camps, renowned as places to explore and make new friends, could be part of the solution to promoting youth mental health in 2021. Not only are summer camps great for fostering social connection, they are known for being loads of confidence-boosting, memory-making fun – contributing to healthy minds.

 

More important than ever during an isolating year, here are some of the top ways summer camp supports youth mental health:

 

1. Campers Get Out of Their Comfort Zone

 
At camp, there are ample opportunities for kids to step out and challenge themselves in a safe environment. Whether it’s the thrill of trotting on horseback for the first time, learning to dive into the pool or going on an overnight campout, summer camp is a place for kids to try new things. These challenges help kids to develop as curious and confident little humans who feel good about themselves. When they flip a canoe back over or overcome nerves to perform a skit, they learn that they can overcome challenges. This confidence transfers to help them cope with challenges in school and at home, building their mental and emotional resilience.
 

2. Campers Can Make Friends IRL (in real life)

 
Experts are concerned for the impacts of isolation on kids with limited social interaction during the pandemic, both in terms of current mental health and because of implications for social skill development. Thankfully, new friends are practically part of the package at summer camp. In a year when kids haven’t had a chance to get out in social settings as much, camp is a perfect place to develop social skills and make much-needed connections.
 

3. Campers Get Nature, Not Screen Time

 
You won’t find screens at our camps! We emphasize building relationships and being present with the friends around us. Campers get to enjoy the forest, lakes, ocean, plains or coulee. Camp is a great tactile, in-real-life contrast to the challenges of engaging on Google Classroom or Zoom.
 

4. Campers Do Physical Activities

 
Since the start of the pandemic, four out of five Canadian youth were not getting the recommended hours of physical activity. Camp days are packed with outdoor games and opportunities to be active while having fun. According to the American Psychological Association, physical activity is not only helpful for maintaining good mental health but can be part of the solution to poor mental health or mental illness.

 

Though we can’t officially make this a guarantee, camper parents often report high rates of kids falling happily asleep on the car ride home. That is, if they take a break from telling the tales of all their summer camp adventures.

 

5. Campers Find Hope

 
Kids know that this year has been hard and may have felt anxious or confused by the changes in the world around them and the concerns of adults in their lives. At camp, we cultivate hope by sharing about the bright-light hope and never-ending peace of Jesus. Campers have the chance to share thoughts and feelings with safe mentors, to pray and to be surrounded by a positive community.
 
Wait a minute? Did we say five reasons?

Oh no, that isn’t it.

There is one more BIG ONE.

 

#6, #7, 8, 9 & 10. Parents Need Camp, Too

 
Moms, dads, grandparents and other caregivers, we see you. You love your kids immensely and you’ve done an amazing job managing lots of at-home time this year. But a week on your own at home this summer could be a breath of fresh air. Our qualified staff will take great care of your little ones for the week. You can savor the chance to tidy up and… wait for it… have the house stay the way you left it.

 

With limited space available, camp will fill quickly this year. Register soon for a summer camp in your region. Heading to camp for a week or two could be part of the puzzle to help your kids and teens be mentally healthy this year.

 
 

Note: In exceptional cases, screens may be used as part of camp programs such as photography skill development or videos may be part of special events, etc.

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