Camp has been providing special memories for generations. When children go to camp, they’ll likely come home gushing about the lifelong friends they made and the exciting adventures they had. What they probably won’t tell you about are the life lessons that camp has given them — those skills that will translate into a lasting self-confidence, an awareness of the importance of kindness, and a greater comfort in voicing their opinions. Camp also provides children with the skills needed for a successful future. Those skills include independence, empathy, the ability to work as part of a team and a broader world view.
The American Camp Association’s large-scale national study talked to 18- to 25-year-olds who attended camp as kids. They were asked what they experienced at camp that broadened their perspective and helped them in school and in their early careers.
The participants agreed that:
Camp is a safe and nurturing environment that enhances independence.
Camp gives children the freedom to explore activities, make new friends and learn by doing. Camp encourages effort and perseverance. Inspiring success is fundamental to camp, and former campers attest that camp helped them become self-reliant and confident. Camp is a community that celebrates self-esteem, resilience and dependability.
Camp teaches kids to live in the moment.
Seizing each moment — each experience — is at the heart of camp. Former campers confirm that their time at camp was spontaneous, unrehearsed and relaxed. They didn’t dwell on the past or worry about the future. This ability to live in the moment has helped them in their education, careers and lives.
Camp is a community that celebrates diversity.
Diversity is the essence of the camp. Campers meet new people and learn to appreciate differences — to respect and value everyone’s uniqueness. Former campers confirm that their lives have been expanded by those of different cultures, ethnicity, faiths and ideas. Camp provided a broader perspective for their adult lives.
Camp develops relationships.
Campers learned how to meet new people, work together and carry on important and sometimes difficult conversations. They learned to make valuable connections with others. Former campers attest to the importance of these relationship skills in their success in higher education, the workplace and life.
“Our research shows that campers have the opportunity to gain new experiences and learn new, life-long skills,” says ACA president and CEO Tom Rosenberg. “The impact of camp lasts forever.”