As I speak with families, the issue of cost is always part of the conversation, no matter if we are talking about summer camps for kids, unique summer experiences for tweens or travel or study options for teens. Parents spend a lot of time and financial resources investing in their children’s experiences. Travel sports teams, lessons in the arts, and a myriad of other after school and weekend activities. They supervise, volunteer and generally make possible a rich life for kids. So why is an away from home summer experience worth the financial investment? The personal growth that kids gain from sleepaway summer camps or high schoolers learn from summer travel programs occurs when kids have opportunities to make decisions independent of their parents.
Here are 5 important skills a child of any age masters by being away from home in a summer program.
1. Practice sleeping away from the comforts of your own home. For some kids this is the hardest part.
2. Ability to keep track of your own “stuff”. Whether at traditional sleep away camps, enrichment on college campuses, community service programs or the other types of summer activities, lose your socks and it can be a problem.
3. Learning to negotiate through conflict. This might be simply improved patience in taking turns or dealing with the disappointment of not being chosen for a desired activity.
4. Advocating for yourself. So often we hear from camp directors that when kids find themselves in challenging or disappointing situations the first thing they do is call home. Asking for help and speaking up for yourself are lessons that can only be learned away from Mom and Dad’s participation.
5. Trying new things not available at home. Rock climbing camps, water skiing camps, archeology camps, community service with native Americans to name a few of the activities not readily available to most families.
The benefits kids get from these fabulous opportunities are often intangible. Is it worth the investment? Absolutely!