Term Paper: Summer Camps and Programs

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[. . .] Each of which offer a wide range of recreational, outdoor experiences and adventures. Evenings are filled with outdoor campfires, music, games and stories. Children are responsible for outdoor and indoor chores on a daily basis.

Programs such as Camp Wilderness in Missouri have open tents rather than cabins where beds are covered by mosquito nets and where running water is not available. Camps such as these teach children to be resourceful and environmentally conscience.


One of the core benefits of summer camps is that these programs allow children to explore their inner self and to recognize their own talents and abilities.

At summer camps, youth can participate in recreational, social and creative activities geared toward personal growth. By offering children some independence and a chance to be involved in experience-based learning or "learning by doing," camps often aid children in self-identity development.

While many camps place an emphasis on team sports programs, self-identity can be achieved through the individual sports opportunities that exist in camp environments. Individual sports program examples include archery, fencing, fishing, golf, gymnastics, martial arts, wrestling, track and field, biking, weight training and tennis.

There are also a number of camps available focusing on specific skills and talents a child may have or may want to explore. By exploring unique talents and encouraging the development of those talents, camps aid in personal youth development. Some examples of camps in this area include art camps, film and photography camps, and music and performing arts camps. There are camps that focus on certain educational areas as well, all of which incorporate recreation as part of the learning and fun. Some examples of these programs include computer camps, foreign language, business and finance camps, math and science camps, college preparatory camps, and law and political science programs. There are many other camps concentrating on special talents such as art, music, writing and painting. To go a step further, there are even "special interest" camps for unique hobbies and interests such as aerospace, aviation, ecology, seamanship, field studies, and community service.

While every camp is different, they all have on common trait, they are constructed to allow kids time to relax and have fun.

Camps offer a creative and stimulating atmosphere for youth to develop personal confidence, self-esteem, self-reliance, resourcefulness, and emotional health.

Through camp leaders' daily encouragement and motivational support, and the modeling of character in activity, children learn these attributes.

Self-esteem is considered important to healthy childhood development.

Camps promote a number of programs to offer youth athletic and academic development. Self-worth and respect are accomplished when a child is challenged with a task and when they are able to meet that challenge, or when children are asked to lead an activity.

Through personal involvement and positive feedback concerning these camp experiences, participants are able to develop their own individual identities, perceptions and confidence.

Camps also offer personal skills development that can aid a child in day-to-day knowledge and existence. As the old saying goes, "If you give a man a fish, he can eat for a day. If you teach him how to fish, he can eat for a lifetime." The same holds true for the many opportunities for learning and development offered by camp environments. Resourcefulness is taught through various skill development programs and recreational activities such as cooking, backpacking, arts and crafts.

Children are presented with activity choices, which allow individuals to think for themselves and make decisions. This is a critical part of self-development and enables the child to achieve self-reliance.

Through summer programs, not only are young children affected by the environment and personal development offered by camps, but so are teen camp workers.

One case example from the American Camping Association was a teen by the name of Jon who was a part of a support staff at a camp one summer.

Following Jon's experience, his principal and teachers noticed "a positive difference in his behavior and academic achievement.

He achieved higher grades, was involved in anti-drug programs, and experienced a decrease in problems both at school and at home" (American Camping Association).

Effective camps, whether they are day, sleep-away, travel or specialty programs, have the ability to offer youth attendees positive experiences that can have a significant impact on their lives.

Participation in recreation, skill achievement, and positive communications and interaction with peers and adults are some of the key contributors cited by industry leaders, such as the American Camping Association, for youth development and self-growth.

Physical / Health

Recreation is particularly important in physical and mental health. It allows children an opportunity to have fun, relax and unload unnecessary stresses in their lives.

A camp environment is a perfect area for physical and health-related child development activity.

Many summer camps and programs throughout the U.S. place an emphasis on sports and recreational activities.

There are a number of specialty camps that cater to particular programs such as basketball, baseball, football and various other athletics. Regardless if the camp has a sports emphasis or not, there is generally always an accent on recreation and physical activity. Most camps offer a variety of physical activities including bicycling, walking, hiking, swimming and team sports.

According to Roper Starch, an overwhelming number of Americans believe that if people participated more in outdoor physical activities such as this, the health effects would be beneficial (93%). Outdoor recreation, in fact, is seen almost unanimously as the best way to be physically active (90%) (Roper Starch).

Americans also see outdoor recreation playing a role in reducing childhood obesity: a full three-quarters of Americans see it as having a role in helping with this problem (Roper and Starch).

In addition to contributing to the health of youth in general, there are also a number of camps that focus on helping children with special needs, specific health problems and disorders. There are camps for diabetes patients, children with immune deficiency illnesses, youth programs for kidney disease patients, programs for handicapped children, children with chronic illnesses, camps for kids with skin diseases and so on. These camps offer a place where children can feel like they fit in and where they can share experiences with other children dealing with similar situations.

Special needs camps also offer a place for kids to "forget the pain" at least for a short period. These children need a break from the focus on their health condition, in a structured environment where they are free to simply be children and experience fun.

Each of these camps also incorporates recreation as an element of its programs. Team and individual activities are offered as opportunities for these campers. There are also special therapy programs for campers to aid in their particular special needs category. For example, the Children's Beach House Camp in Wilmington, Delaware, offers children speech and language therapy if needed or desired by attendees.

Summary and Conclusion

In summary, this paper offers an overview of the positive effect of an organized camping experience on the development of our country's youth.

Annual survey results of the American Campers Association continually indicate that the most important contributions of summer camps to child development include: getting along with others, teamwork and social skills; self-confidence and self-esteem; and recreational (physical) skills each outlined and discussed throughout this paper.

Social, self, physical and health attributes are developed through recreationally focused summer programs. Socially, these programs encourage positive interaction with peers and adults.

Through adult role models, camps teach children to share, to cooperate, to take turns and to follow leaders according to specific guidelines. Because every individual participates in the various activities throughout the camps, interpersonal skills become a core a development area.

Thus, camps gain a position to influence in the lives of the children participating and the teen workers contributing at the camp.

Some camps offer programs for at-risk youth with diverse backgrounds and social issues.

There is much to be said about the role of recreation in preventing violence and negative behavior.

Statistics show that students who spend one to four hours weekly in extracurricular activities are 49% less likely to use drugs and 37% less likely to become teen parents than students who do not participate in these types of activities (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services).

As recreation plays an important role in youth development, so does the environment. The outdoor experiences of summer camps and programs offer children a greater respect for the environment, its beauty and its upkeep.

In addition to social aspects of development, most camps place a key emphasis on enhancing the self-identity and attributes of each individual.

Self-enhancement contributes to self-confidence and self-esteem necessary for youth to become successful adults. Through a variety of competitive, leadership and individual activities, camps offer children a chance to build on and reflect on their own personal talents and abilities.

Finally, physical and health attributes are addressed by summer camps' recreational activities and programs. Camps regularly offer team and individual sports… [END OF PREVIEW]

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