Camp and College

IMG_9630Spring is here, and high school seniors from all over are making final decisions about what college or university they will be attending in the Fall. It’s an exciting time for students and families as they prepare for this new journey. A time for young people to head out into a world of greater independence and autonomy. A time to live outside of the family home, meet new people, and make decisions about classes and campus life.

The thought of living independently may sound great to some, and quite unsettling to others. If going off to college will be the first time away from family, the comforts of home, and mom and dad’s watchful eyes, it may be emotionally challenging. These students may be ready academically, but for those who have never ventured out into the world, even for a brief moment, there is a lot to learn. But for those students who have spent their summers at sleepaway camp, they are definitely ahead of the game for this next phase of life.

Kids who have been to summer camp have developed the tools needed for true independence and a positive transitioning to college life. At camp, kids learn to live with others, work as a group, learn conflict resolution, develop leadership skills, step outside of their comfort zone, and gain confidence and resilience. Camp provides kids the opportunity to live independently from parents and make decisions that they can take ownership of. From wake up to lights out, kids are exercising their autonomy in a safe supervised environment, giving them the self-confidence to believe in their own abilities.

IMG_9628At camp, kids pick out their own clothing, clean up their living area, choose their meals and some of their own activities. They make their own friends and learn to live in a community with people from different areas and backgrounds. They try new things and develop courage in a safe environment. Kids learn to communicate and assert their needs when things are difficult. They discover that they have a voice separate from their parents, and they feel proud of working things out on their own.

Michael Thompson, Ph. D, author of Homesick and Happy: How Time Away from Parents Can Help a Child Grow, believes that the best practice for college is camp. “Camp is the best emotional preparation for a successful college experience”. A camp experience moves kids toward independence and autonomy, which is especially important in current times when kids have less freedom and more parental supervised activities than ever.

So as you prepare for the big day, know that your camper has the tools needed to make their freshman year (and years to follow) a positive and successful one. You have already prepared them by giving them the gift of camp. They will be the leaders that enjoy making new friends, challenging themselves academically and having the confidence to make college an amazing experience.