We know it is tough to think about letting your little one take the plunge and go away to an overnight summer camp. But it isn’t all just fun and games and late-night smores, though we have no doubt that these are what draw 12 to 15 million kids to camp each summer. But beneath all this is a lot of “life lesson” learning. And really, what better way to learn life skills than while having fun at summer camp? Camp is a great way for younger children and teenagers to have some wholesome fun in the outdoors, experience new things, and learn valuable life skills at the same time.
While campers may learn some different skills depending on the type of camp they attend, we have compiled a list of common life skills that are typically found at all kinds of summer camps. Rec camp, art camp, chef camp, religious camp, and sports camp alike teach campers valuable life skills they can carry with them throughout their lives. Regardless of the type of summer camp you host or attend, these life skills will be evident.
Life Skills People Learn at Summer Camp
1. Teamwork and Sportsmanship
Teamwork and sportsmanship are inevitable skills that campers need to learn. Many camp activities require working with others in a team and being a good sport. Competition can become intense, which fosters a strong environment for campers to develop their sportsmanship. These skills often don’t come naturally–especially for younger campers, yet they are some of the most valuable skills a child can learn.
Being away at summer camp teaches the life skill of responsibility. While camp leadership holds most of the responsibilities for campers, campers still encounter various situations that require this life skill. They must learn to be responsible for their things and their environment. Campers also learn responsibility when it comes to their hygiene. Parents aren’t at camp to encourage and remind campers when to take a shower, brush their teeth, or comb their hair. While counselors may give subtle reminders of these things, it’s ultimately the camper’s individual responsibility.
Oftentimes, summer camp is the first time kids and teenagers are away from their parents for an extended period of time. This separation can help campers develop independence and become more comfortable making independent decisions. While campers aren’t truly independent at camp since they have camp leaders and a schedule to follow, being away from home gives campers a new independent environment they may not typically be used to.
4. Address a Letter
If campers are away for weeks or months over the summer, they may have the opportunity to write and mail letters home. Many kids and teenagers haven’t addressed a letter before, and camp is their first time. Despite living in a digital world that continues to grow, knowing how to address a letter for the mail is an extremely important skill to have.
Communication is an essential life skill that individuals will continue to grow and improve throughout their lives. Summer camp is a good opportunity for kids, teenagers, and camp leadership alike to expand on their person-to-person communication skills. Camp is also a great time for kids to spend less time texting and DM’ing on social media, both of which can be detrimental to their social growth if they’re not careful.
6. Long Distance Friendships
Prior to summer camp, chances are that kids haven’t had many opportunities to form long-distance friendships. Besides the occasional school friend or neighborhood friend who may have moved, young kids likely don’t have many (if any) long-distance friends. Summer camp is a great place for campers to create new friendships. However, the other campers are likely from a different town, which means having a long-distance friendship.
Though this may not seem like an important life skill, it teaches the importance of communication and valuing time spent together. Once campers begin their long-distance friendship post-summer camp, they can put their skills to the test by communicating with each other via letter or digitally and learning how to maintain a friendship with physical distance.
Summer camps can have the most detailed plans and schedules in the world, but plans will likely shift due to weather or other unforeseen issues at least once or twice. When the staff works for months to plan, it’s almost impossible to avoid change in some way. Being flexible and open to change is an important life skill that everyone should learn, and it’s much easier to do so as a child than an adult.
8. Conflict Resolution
Conflict will arise whether you’re attending camp as a camper or as camp leadership. Being able to navigate conflict as either the party involved or an outsider is an important life skill. Experiencing conflict is inevitable in the world. Showing that you can successfully handle conflict and reach a resolution is a valuable life skill no matter where you go in life.
No matter your role at summer camp, listening is a valuable skill campers and camp leaders alike will learn. Summer camps are often very high energy, with many people involved and various activities. Being an active listener is an important skill to master at summer camp. If someone at camp fails to listen and pay attention, they may miss out on important information that can cause serious problems down the line.
10. Self Expression
Camp is the perfect place to meet new people, make friends, and have new experiences. One of the best parts about camp is that everyone is often a stranger to each other. This can be extremely freeing for campers, who will feel free to express themselves however they wish without worrying about judgment from people they know. Camp can be seen as a fresh set of people and allows campers to feel comfortable expressing themselves and their ideas, opinions, and interests.
Summer camp is a great environment to learn many different life skills. Kids will not only have the time of their lives, but you’ll pick them up once it’s over, feeling confident that they’ve learned countless new skills they can apply to all areas of their lives.
Want to document and share your camper’s experience with their family and friends at home? WaldoCamps by Waldo Photos is the best resource for sharing precious photos and videos from summer camp with your camper families. If your camp doesn’t use Waldo, send us a request here, and we will work to have Waldo added as a benefit for all camp families!