If there is one universal truth for anyone who attends an overnight camp for any extended period of time – whether they are longtime camp lovers, nervous newbies, or anyone in between – it is this: at some point or another, there will be a bump in the road. In fact, if things go the way they should, there will be many. Whether it’s a lost intercamp competition or Color War, a bout of homesickness, a bunkmate who isn’t contributing to clean-up, or a friend who sat down on your bed uninvited – when a child spends two, four, or seven weeks in a communal environment like camp, things are bound to come up. And this is all a part of the plan.
In fact, these small struggles are a vital part of what makes camp such an incredible place for growth and development for children and adolescents. A summer at camp will inevitably present some adversity – but this adversity will be manageable, will be worked through with counselors and directors, and will ultimately be just a short-term obstacle a camper is able to overcome during their tenure. In short, by presenting kids with adversity, and providing strategies to overcome this adversity, camps teach campers to be resilient. To quote a recent article that conveyed these sentiments, “. . . kids learn by doing. Trip over a tree stump and you learn to look down.
One element that plays a major role in helping kids develop this resiliency, is the simple fact that they’re so busy on a day-to-day basis. If a camper has a rough morning, they won’t be able to spend a day stewing or worrying about what went wrong. If they got in an argument with a friend during clean-up, they will likely be playing sports or participating in activities with that same friend by lunchtime. At camp, everything happens in an accelerated pace – and while there is always time to reflect and to learn, there is rarely time to dwell. This helps kids master the art of rebounding from disappointments or arguments – campers are allowed to feel disappointed, and are encouraged to turn to their counselors for support, and to find solutions and work things out – but they are simultaneously encouraged to get back into the groove of things as soon as they are comfortable, and this is a hugely impactful tool for helping campers learn this art of bouncing back.
The pace at which camp moves, and the ways this helps kids adjust and overcome, is best exemplified by a conversation that every camp director has had with a parent at some point or another. Sometimes, parents will receive a letter from their child that recounts a disagreement with a close friend, and expresses the camper’s frustration and disappointment. But of course, by the time the parent receives the letter and calls the director to follow-up, their child and his or her friend have already worked past their issue, and oftentimes their friendship has been strengthened as a result. It’s not a coincidence that “camp friends make the best friends” – due to the simple facts of communal living, camp friends will frequently have issues that crop up, but are able to learn to work these out amongst themselves or with a mediating counselor.
For campers who are intense competitors, they will also inevitably learn to lose at camp, which is a hugely valuable skill. They will learn that their best is not always good enough, but that outcome isn’t everything and this is okay. They will learn that there is going to be another game or another season, that there is a place for disappointment and a place for getting back to practice. They learn how to handle defeat, but also how good it feels to work hard and win a hard-earned rebound victory. In short, they learn to be resilient.
Teaching resiliency is woven into the fabric of each Maine Camp Experience camp, and is one of the most valuable lessons a child will learn over the course of one or more summers. By exposing kids to adversity, and teaching them to overcome this adversity and respond resiliently, camp sets campers up for long-term success – for their summers at camp and beyond.
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 Campcierge™ to discuss these camps as well as for free, year-round advice and assistance on choosing a great Maine summer camp for your child. You can share your own Maine camps memories & expressions of gratitude on our Memories of Camp section of our website.
Talk to Laurie, our Maine Campcierge™, about choosing the right camp for your child and what to do in Maine.