A week of camp can be priceless for a child. It is a positive memory most will keep for their lifetime. That awesome memory alone is worth going to camp, but there are additional reasons why camp is a great investment in your child’s life and development. Should you send your kid to camp this summer?? Here are just six reasons we think the answer is a resounding YES!
1) “You Mean My Bed Doesn’t Make Itself??”
One of the greatest roles we have as parents is helping our children become independent young adults. The challenge is finding opportunities to put our children in situations where they are pushed to rise to the occasion. Camp is the ideal place for a child to start his or her journey to independence in a safe and positive environment. Whether it’s having to keep their bunk area clean, sharing meals around a table of cabin mates, choosing to ride the 1500' zip line or even learning to budget their money to last a week in the camp store, camp is FULL of opportunities for personal growth for kids.
|Camp store spending
|How do I manage my money?
|Cabin of new people
|How do I develop new friends?
|How far will I push myself?
|What foods are the best to eat?
|Camp "Free Time"
|How will I manage my time?
|How will I manage my personal hygiene?
Clinical psychologist Michael Thompson makes the case in his book, "Homesick and Happy", that camp is extremely effective in developing healthy and independent children. He says it this way: “There are things that, as a parent, you cannot do for your children, as much as you might wish to. You cannot make them happy (if you try too hard they become whiners); you cannot give them self-esteem and confidence (those come from their own accomplishments); you cannot pick friends for them and micro-manage their social lives. And finally you cannot give them independence. The only way children can grow into independence is to have their parents open the door and let them walk out. That’s what makes camp such a life-changing experience for children.”
2) Unplug from the Matrix
If you ever saw the movie, The Matrix, you were introduced to the idea of the digital world one day overtaking the real world. One of the heroes in the movie is Morpheus, the leader of the last human city of Zion, who is on a quest to free as many humans from the digital prison, which is the Matrix. At one point he explains to one of the new recruits what it feels like to step out of the Matrix: "What you know you can't explain, but you feel it. You've felt it your entire life, that there's something wrong with the world. You don't know what it is, but it's there, like a splinter in your mind, driving you mad."
While our current digital world may not be as oppressive at the Matrix, I think we can all relate to how the digital world is becoming increasingly distracting and disconnecting for our society. The cell phone alone has become a significant issue for parents to responsibly manage with our children. How do we teach our children that there is life outside of their phones, social media and video games? You take time to unplug! At RVR, we are committed to being 100% unplugged while your child is at camp. One of our goals is to show them that not only can they have a blast without being plugged in, but also develop real and meaningful relationships with the people present at camp.
3) Moral and Spiritual Development
For many years in America, the moral and spiritual development of children was significantly influenced by the church. However, in recent years the number of families no longer attending churches is on the rise. In fact, in the recent book "Churchless", the Barna group found that the number of churchless Americans has jumped by nearly 1/3 in just 20 years. Today, over half of all Americans no longer attend church, compared to 20% in the 1990's.
What does this mean for those of us who want to continue influencing our kids’ moral and spiritual development? Other than seeking out a vibrant Biblical church, we need to find ways of speaking truth to them that they can understand and put in to practice. We have found camp to be one of the most effective ways to break down barriers to spiritual influence and communicate God's word in relevant ways. Whether its learning about faith on the zip line, controlling your tongue on a horseback ride (see James 3:3) or expressing yourself in a creative way during an evening worship service, camp provides a very tactile experience for students to understand God's truth.
4) Develop Lifelong Friends
Author Jim Rohn famously said, "You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with". Who we choose as friends will have a significant impact on the kind of person we will become. Finding a handful of authentic friends who not only share our values, but who are willing to love, encourage, and even challenge us, is priceless. As Solomon so eloquently stated in Proverbs, "As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend". At camp, deep, meaningful friendships are forged every year, many of which last a lifetime.
5) Learn Outside the Classroom
While teaching “lecture style” in a classroom is one method for children to learn, it clearly has its limits. In a recent University of Illinois study, it was discovered that children who participated in some sort of physical activity had better cognition and memory, and higher scores on tests and exams.
Furthermore, another study published in the Computers in Human Behavior Journal, found that students who spent 5 days at an outdoor camp without access to screens performed better with comprehension and non-verbal emotional cues.
Having worked in camp my entire life, I don't need fancy studies (although they are kind of cool to read) to attest to the power that a week of camp can have in effectively communicating critical truths to students. Getting kids outside in the beauty of God's creation, participating in unique challenging experiences really does lead to meaningful life impact. We see it hundreds of times over every year!
6) “Actually Charles, We Really Do Need Role Models”
Nike’s famous 1993 ad campaign featured NBA basketball player Charles Barkley saying he was not a role model and that it was up to parents to raise their kids. While there is certainly a lot of truth in that statement, its also true that as our kids get older, the less influence we have on them. This leaves a hole that someone will fill. Who is influencing your children outside of your home? Camp is a wonderful place filled with quality, caring young adults (who are significantly cooler that you are by the way), who are wonderful role models for your children. If we are not intentional about filling the role model void, someone (Charles Barkley or others) will fill it.
So there you have it. Six reasons why a week of summer camp should be a priority for your kids this summer. Find out more about RVR's Maryland Summer Camps or find other Christian camps in your area at thepowerofcamp.com.