by Laurie Kaiden, Maine Camp Guide
While the holidays tend to be a big time for tech purchases for our kids and teens, the gift of summer camp – where kids unplug – may be the BEST, longest lasting, most impactful gift a parent can give.
Sleepaway camp is an incredible, life-shaping opportunity where kids get to disconnect from their smartphones and tablets and connect with friends in real life. Dr. Catherine Steiner-Adair, noted psychologist, and a Maine Camp Experience sleepaway camp alum and proponent says,
“In this digital age, people are looking at smartphones more than each other. Kids are texting the kid sitting next to them. Sleepaway camp can help kids develop empathy, they learn what it means to be part of a community, and how everyone’s feelings matter. It’s an ideal environment to teach children the social and emotional intelligence tools that they need now – more than ever – in this highly reactive, quick-paced digital life.”
Here are the top 10 reasons camp is the best gift a child can receive:
For kids, top five reasons why camp is the best gift to RECEIVE:
1. Unplug – Camp is the only place where you can see kids of all ages creating their own fun, fully present to each other, laughing, playing, learning how to win and lose, and having a blast- without any screens! Campers rediscover how to engage in the real world, without the constant interruptions of checking social media and email.
2. Make new friends – Camp offers children a whole new set of friends of all ages that is separate from home and school. When you live with peers in a cabin or tent, you learn how to be a friend and get along with others in ways school can’t provide. Friendships made at camp often build through the years and even expand beyond camp years.
3. Connect with nature – Kids can relax, breathe fresh air and enjoy incredible outdoor experiences in nature such as hikes and overnight camp-outs. Living in nature offers children the chance to discover their self in connection to the great outdoors, and the beauty of the natural world, and develop a sense of stewardship for the environment.
4. Learn new skills and gain confidence – Under the guidance of directors, counselors and specialists, campers will try and succeed at things they may not have done before (responsible for picking out clothes, showering/brushing teeth, keeping cubby and stuff organized) and may never have dreamt they could do (like climbing a rock wall or riding a horse).
5. Gain independence, build character and good values. Camp is one of the few places in a child’s life that they get to flourish away from their parents and come to believe in their independent self.
For parents, top five reasons why camp is the best gift to GIVE:
1. Help with teaching your child life skills and values – Parents often find that their kids have developed positive skills from being at camp such as becoming more cooperative with parents and siblings, more empathetic and more flexible about trying new things.
2. Ability to refresh and recharge – Having kids at camp gives parents a break from all the carpooling and entertaining they do throughout the school year. They find themselves refreshed, and welcome back their kids and responsibilities with open arms. Absence does make the heart grow fonder.
3. “Me time” – While kids are at camp, parents have time for things they often don’t get around to during the busy days of parenting. Most of all, it’s a chance for parents to reconnect to their selves, and have much needed uninterrupted time to focus inside or on tasks or goals that got pushed aside for the children.
4. Time to reconnect with spouse – Oftentimes, our spouse becomes the other half of the transactional partnership in things like – Who is picking up the kids? Who is helping with the homework? While kids are at camp, spouses can reconnect with each other, focus on their relationship, and enjoy quality time together.
5. Good vacation opportunities – Parents often enjoy traveling together while their kids are at camp. This includes making a vacation out of visiting their kid at camp on Visiting Day, as many do at Maine camps. It’s a wonderful guilt free time for parents to have their own grown up adventures, knowing their children are happy campers.
Maine Camp Experience Resources & Tools
Looking for the perfect Maine camp for your child? Try out our helpful tool where you can select a camp by choosing: type of camp (girls, boys or coed) and session length (1-8 weeks). It helps to narrow down a few camps to a manageable list that includes rates. Then you can research these camps in more depth.
Next, be sure to contact our Maine Camp Guide, Laurie to discuss these camps as well as for free, year-round advice and assistance on choosing a great Maine summer camp for your child.
Talk to Laurie, our Maine Campcierge™, about choosing the right camp for your child and what to do in Maine.