Summer is almost here and it is time to start thinking about summer camps. Tampa Bay Parenting contributor Jessica Muroff, CEO of the Girl Scouts of West Central Florida, is here to talk with us about why summer camps are so important.
Why is it important for kids to go to camp?
Camp is such a great learning experience in so many ways. Research shows that campers improve in areas like social integration, self-confidence and appreciation of physical activity. Campers are exposed to the wonders of nature, which develops into an appreciation, concern and caring for our environment and time spent outdoors is essential to the physical, emotional and mental development of children. It also important for campers to be able to take risks in a safe environment, something that is especially vital for girls to prepare them for life.
What does it mean to take risks in a safe environment?
Many kids, and this tends to be especially true of girls, are not encouraged to take risks. At camp, taking risks is not only encouraged but critical to enjoying the full benefits of the experience. With ample supervision and instruction, kids can go outside their comfort zone and feel safe and encouraged to take risks. In turn they learn responsibility, problem-solving and confidence.
What other kinds of life skills do campers develop?
How to make friends is one of the primary benefits. How to live with people other than your family which may be the best chance they have to do this until college. You learn how to appreciate the differences, listen to others and resolve conflict. You also get to develop a sense of independence and an opportunity take care of yourself. How to disconnect from our technological world and appreciate outdoor activities.
As a parent, what did you appreciate about your daughter’s camp experience?
I appreciated that she was able to step outside of her comfort zone. She learned new things, made new friends, challenged herself, took risks, and disconnected from the technology that pervades our daily lives. She was able to do a lot of self-reflection and learn more about herself as she is growing and experiencing new things. Though some of her letters were sad (she missed us, of course, we missed her, too!), I knew from counselor reports and photos that she was enjoying her time. When she came home she sang the camp songs to me for a full week on a daily basis. I loved it. I remembered that same experience at our Girl Scouts camps. It made my heart happy.
For more information, visit gswcf.org/summercamp.