Summer Camp may have come to a close, but that doesn’t mean the fun and learning have to end. Kids who have spent the summer engaged in fun and phenomenal learning activities are already primed for an exciting and productive school year. Camps that invite kids to take risks and champion success help them to grow and reinforce self-confidence. If that camp experience has included activities and challenges that build a growth mindset, they will be ready to set some lofty goals for the coming year. With a bit of support and encouragement, the benefits of summer camp can last throughout the school year.
The Lasting Benefits of Summer Camp
Summer camp offers a fun, child-centered environment for kids during the long school recess, but there are important takeaways that provide long-term benefits to campers. These may not be immediately evident, but the effects can impact kids in many ways:
- New things learned: Though providing learning experiences may not be the first priority when seeking a summer camp, there are inevitably opportunities for growth. Trying new things, including things they were afraid to do, was a significant factor for 74% of summer campers surveyed by the American Camp Association (ACA). These positive experiences gave kids the courage to try new things in a variety of other contexts after camp had ended.
- Community experience: In the inviting atmosphere of adventure, surrounded by positive staff role models and enthusiastic campers, a sense of community is established quickly at camp. The low-stress environment welcomes everyone to share in the fun, inspiring kids to participate actively and contribute with confidence. They learn to see themselves as valuable members of the team and accept challenges with support from their peers. The friendship skills learned translate easily to school and neighborhood situations.
- Mindset acquired: Camp experiences help to reinforce a growth mindset. When trying new things, kids are encouraged to adopt a “can-do” attitude. They are given time and opportunity to realize success, which reinforces the idea that sustained effort pays off.
- Skills gained: Many camps, including sports, music and technology programs, are charged with helping campers develop specific skills in a discipline. Through games, performances and simulations, kids have opportunities to learn in realistic contexts. The skills acquired can then be applied to projects at home and in school.
- Confidence built: An ACA survey revealed that 92% of campers acknowledged that “camp made me feel good about myself.” With the goal of providing fun summer recreation, camp staff work diligently to help all campers experience success. The sense of confidence and independence acquired can give them a boost in the coming school year.
Benefits of the Innovator’s Mindset
Learning things in context helps to connect new learning with prior knowledge, thus cementing neural pathways and helping to make them permanent. Kids who have learned specific skills at camp can apply them in new contexts throughout the school year. Galileo campers have the power of the Galileo Innovation Approach® behind them. Parents will notice its effects long after kids’ camp sessions have ended. Summer experiences with the GIA will empower resilience, allowing kids to believe in their own potential to be:
- Visionary: Many of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs and inventors started out as kids with a vision. Kids who believe in the power of their ideas and are willing to risk sharing them can do amazing things in school and in the community. Taking a risk in mathematical problem solving or with innovative science fair research are two examples, in which kids’ ideas drive the creative process. Visionaries are observant; encourage them to recognize and take advantage of opportunities in the world around them.
- Courageous: With self-confidence strengthened at camp, kids are willing to challenge themselves to stretch their abilities and achieve new things. Whether in academics, sports, technology or the arts, courageous kids set ambitious goals, take calculated risks, learn from their mistakes and achieve remarkable things. Reinforce their confidence by focusing on the things they have achieved through perseverance.
- Determined: Current math standards challenge kids to persevere to find multiple methods to solve a problem. Determined kids take this to heart, sustaining effort despite setbacks. Encourage kids to apply this type of thinking to all areas of life and persist through the rough spots and remind them that mistakes are a normal part of the process.
- Collaborative: Kids who have had experience collaborating with peers at camp can effectively use their communication, social and leadership skills in group projects at school and at home. Help them find ways to participate in community service and home improvement projects, thus allowing them to exercise both initiative and creativity.
- Reflective: Kids who take time to reflect can grow with their experiences and learn from their mistakes. Thoughtful comments and analysis can result in insightful book reports and perceptive essays. Let kids see you practice reflection through think-alouds and by discussing shared experiences. Make reflection a regular part of the day.
Complementary Activities Provide Ongoing Benefits
As demonstrated by ACA research, the long-term benefits of summer camp make it a valuable activity that complements the educational, athletic, artistic and other pursuits that occupy kids throughout the year. By strengthening kids’ sense of independence and self-confidence, camp can enhance and reinforce the learning kids do throughout the school year. Conversely, the challenges kids face throughout the school year present opportunities to extend and build upon the social, emotional and physical strides they have made at summer camp. With the benefits of the Innovator’s Mindset onboard, Galileo camps give kids a resilient foundation on which to build a strong and productive school year.
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