In part of her series on “Parenting for Success,” Forbes Magazine author Kathy Caprino recently published an article on nine key contributions parents can make towards their children’s personal and social well-being. The article itself is quite informative, and many of the values she outlines can be supported by the activities, staff, and environment unique to summer camp.
- Find mentors and ask for help: [Mentors’ guidance] matured [her kids] and helped them think like leaders, and helped them obtain guidance and support outside of their parents.
Summer camp counselors are ideal mentors – they are youthful enough to relate to kids but old enough to provide meaningful guidance; and they are connected to campers’ experiences as they often attended camp themselves.
- Develop a growth mindset: Instead of praising kids for their smarts or looks, affirm variables that are in their control, like hard work, or good strategy or honest words.
Traditional summer camps for kids are rooted in values like integrity, confidence, and setting and reaching personal and group goals. They integrate challenging activities, working through unfamiliar social constructs, and personal reflection. Camps are implemented in a healthy and supportive environment, so kids see the experience more as fun than as a personal growth experience while they’re actually getting both.
- Expand their critical thinking: Have them find challenging news topics that interest them, and determine how to respond.
Kids don’t always have this flexibility to pursue topics of interest at school, but at summer camp, they can dive into their passions. They can problem solve at computer, arts, or science camps, and even some camps that specifically focus on short-and long-term problem-solving like peace and conflict-resolution camps for kids. Whatever activity they choose, the curriculum is uniquely designed to be far more engaging and challenging than institutional education. Therefore, it’s a great way to shake up kids’ thought patterns in the off-season with creative opportunities for critical thinking.
- Actively engage in social gatherings: This builds people and communication skills.
Although the author is focused on having kids help their parents host home events, summer camp contributes to many of the same skill sets through alternative activities. For example, kids will fine-tune their event planning skills as they venture out on small-group canoe trips. Ropes courses and physically demanding challenges strengthen communication within a group dynamic. And all of the above emphasize personal responsibility to a larger group – an imperative value as kids get older.
Check out more steps for fostering leadership and confidence in Kathy Caprino’s Forbes article.