Recently an article in Psychology Today was published on how “Summer Camps Make Kids Resilient” to life stress. The article went into detail about the challenges (everything from social skills to learning a new skill) that happen during a summer camp experience. It went on to discuss how a child overcoming these challenges immensely helps their development. A child overcoming a risk on their own is vital to boosting their self confidence. In a summer camp environment campers are spending all day long with “caregivers, the counselors, know what the kids need to grow.” The article goes onto list seven skills and coping strategies children develop in a camp environment.
The skills I would like to highlight are “new relationships, not just with peers,” “a powerful identity that makes the child feel confident in front of others,” and “camps make sure that all children are treated fairly.”
New relationships, not just with peers: Most summer camps encourage their staff to hide their romantic relationships with each other from the campers. There are multiple reasons for this rule but the most relevant is that it teaches children they can have positive relationships with others without it being romantic. If you look online though, there is a huge pressure to have a “facebook official relationship.” There is even an infographic on Facebook’s affect on relationship.
A powerful identity that makes the child feel confident in front of others: Part of growing up is creating and solidifying your identity. The experiences you have along with those surrounding you affect your identity. In a camp environment, you have experiences that build your identity organically. Online, people have to manage their identity. Online is not all negative – children can form blogs to express their views. The difference between being online and at summer camp is that camp provides face to face experiences in front of trained camp counselors. Someone is hired to be a camp counselor because they are a positive role model.
Camps make sure that all children are treated fairly: From Dr. Joel Haber’s website “2 percent of 12-to-17-year-olds reported ‘at least one incident’ of bullying online, which can take the form of name-calling or insults, ‘most typically’ through instant messaging or social networking sites.” Granted there are powerful projects online like the It Gets Better Project, but there is nothing as influential as being in a positive environment. Camp counselors are trained to not only to handle bullying issues that come up, but how to create a positive atmosphere where children treat each other like they want to be treated.