November 24, 2014
There is growing evidence to support the conjecture that overnight summer camp increases a child’s ability to thrive when they leave home to go to college. While there has been no large-scale study that we are yet aware of, many writers, college administrators, and parents are beginning to believe that previous camp experience offers an advantage to students when they arrive at college.
In fact, in some ways, summer camp is almost perfect practice for eventually finding success in college. First-year college students are stretched in a number of ways; there are academic challenges, social challenges, personal challenges, the challenge of managing one’s own schedule, and the challenge of having to be responsible for oneself. Save for the academic side, a term at summer camp includes all of the same obstacles.
The beauty of camp, however, is that each of these obstacles is smaller and can be made appropriate for any age. There are encouraging counselors who can help with homesickness and getting used to the camp rhythm. There are cabinmates who can help reach out and make a new friend or help build a new skill. The camp environment is meant to be supportive, so that every camper can experience a measure of success. And perhaps the most valuable part is that when each camper experiences that success, he or she can look around and say, “Mom’s not here. Dad’s not here. That was my success.”
New York Times bestselling author Michael Thompson has written that camp can be such an important part of a child’s development because independence is something that parents cannot give to their child without help. Thompson writes that:
“The only way children can grow into independence is to have their parents open the door and let them walk out. That’s what makes camp such a life-changing experience for children.”
It’s also easier (for both parent and child!) to start building independence at sleepaway camp because it only lasts for a few weeks. A camp term is also so much fun that after the first day or two, most campers are enjoying it too much to realize that they are also doing the work of growing independence and other skills.
College administrators are starting to notice former summer campers as well.
Thompson adds: “By the way, when I interviewed college admissions officers about how they view campers, they say that they think former campers are more likely to succeed in college because they have had successful experiences away from home, and they are always impressed by seniors who have been counselors looking after younger children.”
We agree. Camp is the perfect preparation for the non-academic challenges of achieving success in college.
Quotes taken from: Should I Be Sending My Children to Camp?
Want more like this? See Also: Summer Camp Mixes Fun and Growth