Making Decisions at Camp

Summer camp is filled with so many exceptional opportunities for kids.  They get to experience the great outdoors, participate in amazing activities, learn new skills, develop lifelong friendships and gain much independence.  This last one, Independence, is a big part of the sleepaway camp experience.  Throughout the summer, campers learn important skills to make healthy choices and become decision makers.  Campers, some for the first time, have the freedom to make decisions independent of their parents input.  That is not to say as parents we don’t give our kids the power to make decisions at home, but camp brings self-reliance to a whole new level.  At camp, kids learn to trust themselves to make choices and learn from the process.  It’s only natural for parents to guide their children in the right direction and want to shield them from possible disappointment, but giving them the freedom to make choices, both good and bad, teaches the greatest lessons.  Camp provides this setting of freedom and allows campers to become more confident, self-assured and independent thinkers.

Research shows that decision making is one of the most important skills a child needs to develop to become a healthy adult.  And though it can be hard for parents to let their child soar on their own, parents who choose to send their child to sleepaway camp give them the gift of independence from the moment they board the camp bus.  Being a camper means making choices throughout the day.  Campers are choosing what clothes to wear, what foods to eat, which electives and clubs to sign up for, what teams to join, and which friends to spend time with.  With the help of nurturing staff, campers learn to navigating their way through the camp world.  Counselors are there to guide and encourage healthy decision making (especially with younger campers), but they also allow campers to feel empowered and in control of their life at camp.  Campers develop greater confidence as they begin to trust their abilities to make choices for themselves.  And if things don’t work out, they learn that not all decisions have a positive outcome and learn to make better decisions the next time.  The best part of all is that campers discover who they are as they explore their interests and passions.

Yes, it’s true that their clothes may not always match, or they didn’t brush their hair as neatly as you would expect.  They may choose to eat pizza instead of a salad, and decide to join the rock band instead of their usual interest on the soccer field, but it’s all part of the freedom that is camp. Campers are learning to trust themselves and become more self-reliant.  They learn to make healthy decisions by discussing things over with peers and counselors, and learn from their choices.   And, as many parents’ report, campers return home from the summer with a greater sense of independence, maturity and confidence.  Good stuff!