The Benefits of Overnight Camp

Summer camp counselor talking to children wearing life jackets
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Every summer tweens flock to overnight camp for experiences of a lifetime. The benefits of sending a child to an overnight camp are numerous. If you think your child is ready to head to summer camp this year, consider all the things he’ll learn, all the skills he'll master, all the friends he'll make, and all the stories he'll share with you for the rest of the summer. Here's how overnight camp can benefit your tween for years to come.

They Learn Independence

Camp is a great way for children to learn how to do things on their own, without the help of protective parents or well-meaning adults. Because you’re not there to remind your son to make his bed, brush his teeth, or eat healthy foods, he has to remind himself, or suffer the consequences of the camp counselors or director. Remarkably, even the most dependent children can learn to rely on themselves when they spend time away from mom and dad.

One of the benefits of exposing your tween to an overnight camp experience is that when they return home, you may notice that they tackle some of their daily chores and responsibilities without constant reminders.

They Learn to Work Together

A good summer camp program offers much more than activities and arts and crafts. A good program also offers a community for your child to join and contribute his or her talents. This community is made up of fellow campers, camp counselors, instructors, and the camp director. While away at a resident camp, your tween will learn to work with other campers and get along with children from a variety of backgrounds. For example, campers may learn to work together to keep their cabin clean, work together to win a camp-wide competition, or work to help one another learn new skills. As a result, overnight camp can help children hone their leadership skills and skills involving cooperation.

They Learn to Slow Down

Many resident camps do not allow electronic devices, cell phones, iPods, or other plugged-in distractions. It may sound harsh to you and your tween, but the advantage is that without electronic toys, your child will learn to slow down and appreciate other worthy experiences. Living life in the slow lane for a little while gives your child the opportunity to find hobbies, rediscover the wonder of reading, or appreciate the beauty of all things around him.

They Learn to Appreciate the Small Things

A week or two away from home, and all its comforts may help your tween appreciate all that home offers — a warm bed, a refrigerator full of snacks, a bathroom of one’s own, television, etc. A week away at summer camp may convince your tween that life at home isn't all that bad. It's also possible that resident camp can help your child appreciate that all he really needs to be happy is a warm place to sleep, healthy food, the company of a few good friends, and a caring adult to help guide him through life.

They Learn New Skills

One of the obvious benefits of summer camp are all the new skills your child will learn. It doesn’t matter if your tween attends a sports camp, an adventure camp, or a program that offers a little bit of everything, the summer camp will teach him new skills. The experience may also help him find a hobby or a life passion that he otherwise may never have known about.

They Learn to Make New Friends

It can be difficult for kids to go away to overnight camp when they don't know anyone else there. But a good program will make it easy for kids to find friends fast. A camp friendship may last a lifetime or only a summer, but either way camp offers children the opportunity to branch out from their regular circle of friends and learn to connect with other people in positive ways.

They Learn How to Make Choices

Summer camp will help your child learn how to make choices. What should I eat for lunch? Should I participate in swimming or volleyball? Should I pick the top or lower bunk? Should I spend all my money on the very first day of camp? 

Because camp counselors typically don’t hover the way that parents are known to do, your child will be responsible for making many decisions on their own.

And that’s very good practice for the teen years ahead, which offer responsible decision-making opportunities every day.

They Learn to Appreciate Parents

It’s easy to take parents for granted, and tweens are especially talented at assuming mom and dad exist only for their convenience. But a child who spends a week or two away at the overnight camp may learn to appreciate all his parents do for him. The little extras such as making his favorite dishes for dinner, or driving him to and from soccer practice, may suddenly be appreciated.

By Jennifer O'Donnell
Jennifer O'Donnell holds a BA in English and has training in specific areas regarding tweens, covering parenting for over 8 years.