Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Summer Camper = Better College Student?

In a recent Psychology Today blog, Steve Baskin, the Camp Director at a beautiful private camp in Marble Falls, Texas, wrote the following article suggesting that being a summer camper has advantages much later in life than early childhood. Here's a sampling from Summer Camp - Creating Advantage in College:

Camp helps students adjust to being away-from-home by giving them practice being away-from-home. Campers coming to camp (often as young as Kindergarten or 1st grade) get to experience being separated from home successfully. Certainly, most campers have some homesickness, but the supportive camp community and the fun activities help ease them through this initial challenge. Homesickness is natural. Children will miss their parents.
Further, we live in a society that sometimes suggests to children that they are only safe within eyeshot of their parents. Yet, we parents want our children to grow in confidence and independence so that they can live productive, fulfilling and joyous lives. Camp enables children to experience successful independence. Like college, they are away-from-home. Unlike college, they are in a community committed to their physical and emotional safety.

What are your thoughts? I only spent one summer (two weeks, actually) of my childhood at a traditional, overnight summer camp, so I'm not sure how good my perspective is. By most measures, I was a successful college student from my first semester onward. Can some of those coping mechanisms be attached to even just a short week or two in a traditional camp setting?

It's true— camp is all about community. Specifically, a community that is not part of the traditional family unit. A standard camp cabin, with two "parents" or head counselors, and a handful of children functioning together to keep spaces clean and eat meals and have fun together definitely resembles a family. And it takes a whole lot of cooperation, compromise, and compassion to function well. So does a successful week of camp teach those lessons in the long-haul?

I can't be certain,  but I think Mr. Baskin makes some great points.

— MaryAshley

Will having a camp family like this one make for a better college student later on?

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