Camp & Responsibility
Sending a child to sleepaway camp is a big decision. One that comes from many different schools of thought. There are parents who grew up at sleepaway camp themselves and want their children to experience the same wonderful camp traditions, friendships, and fun they had when they were kids. Some parents want their children to become more independent and self-confident. Some want their children to spend their summers in the great outdoors, participating in all the amazing activities that camp offers and developing new interests. And still others want their children to be in a social setting where they can build teamwork and leadership skills. Sleepaway camp benefits kids for all of these reasons. But there is another great and beneficial reason to choose sleepaway camp… camp teaches kids responsibility. Responsibility to one another and to the greater good.
Today’s kids are busier than ever, with full academic, after-school, and social schedules. Knowing how busy they are, we often excuse our kids from having responsibilities at home. Parents mean well, wanting kids to focus on managing their daily schedules, but we may be doing them a disservice. Having responsibilities around the house gives kids a purpose, a sense of belonging, and better self-esteem. Chores teach life skills and give kids a feeling of self-sufficiency. They also teach empathy and consideration for others. KJ Dell’Antonia states it perfectly in her NY Times article, Happy Children Do Chores. “Chores are good for kids. Being a part of the routine work of running a household helps children develop an awareness of the needs of others, while at the same time contributing to their emotional well-being. Children who consider themselves necessary to the family are less likely to feel adrift in a world where everyone wants to feel needed.” It’s all about feeling connected, which naturally leads to feeling happier.
Chores and responsibilities are an important part of the camp routine. Campers begin each day making their beds and working together as a unit to do their part. The bunk “job chart” assigns camper’s daily tasks, such as cleaning the back-cubby area, sweeping the floor, putting clothes away on laundry day, and tidying up the front porch. These jobs teach important life skills of responsibility, organization, independence, and a sense of accomplishment from contributing to the group’s needs. Recognizing that each person’s contribution matters and they are an important part of the camp family. This is where an authentic sense of self-esteem comes from. Having responsibilities also reinforces lifelong skills of working hard and working together toward a common goal, skills that carry over outside of the camp environment.
Camp parents are often amazed how much more helpful their children are when they return from camp. They see more mature and independent children who are willing to make their own beds, put their clothes in the hamper, or bring the dishes to the sink without being asked. This increased willingness to contribute to the family is a definite bonus to all the fun and adventure camp offers, and one you should encourage and continue all year long. Even if you can do it faster, or feel badly about taking time away from their school work, let kids have responsibilities at home. It leads to happier, more self-sufficient and confident kids and sets the stage for a successful future.