Take Camp Skills to School
Ask parents about their children’s summer camp experience and you’ll likely hear them gush about how confident and more mature their kids were when they returned home. Peg Smith, CEO of the American Camp Association (ACA), says camp gives kids three key benefits: confidence – because they’ve tried new activities and been successful; curiosity – because camp allows them to explore in a kind of experiential learning environment; and character – because camp fosters respect for other campers, a sense of community and the ability to solve problems as they crop up. ACA offers these tips:
• Remember to remind. Kids may keep the spirit of camp alive for a week or two after returning home, but that upbeat can-do attitude can trail off. Use positive reinforcement. Remind them that you appreciate their positive attitude and the willingness to help that they developed at camp.
• Become camp-like. Set an example by trying to change something at home in order to sustain some of the changes campers have made. You could, for example, set up a “job wheel” that outlines rotating chores among family members – a common facet of the camp experience.
• Give your kids a say. At camp, children help determine how their day is spent. Their advice is actively sought, and they feel like equal players. Emulating this environment at home allows them to continue to stand up for themselves and feel like a contributing member of the household.
• Avoid the negative compliment. Be careful not to inadvertently sabotage some positive differences in your child’s post-camp behavior. Instead of saying, “You never did this before,” say, “I noticed how patient you were with your little brother.”
Ultimately, let your camper know that confidence, independence and helpfulness are incredible traits to have. “Above all else, let your child know that what they learned at camp is going to serve them well when they go to school this fall,” says Smith.