A new survey posted in USA Today indicates that teen stress is on the rise. 64% of the 1018 surveyed teens and 1950 adults reported moderate to extreme stress in the past month and 82% over the last school year. As an added concern, kids are developing bad coping methods like stress-related eating and poor sleeping habits that are carrying over into adulthood. While participants reported a variety of stress-inducing culprits, the benefits of getting kids out of their day-to-day rituals and providing carefree downtime is evidenced by the dramatic reduction of stress reported during summertime.
Summer camp combats sedentary stress-fighting mechanisms
According to the article, “teens say they’re feeling stress in all areas of their lives, from school to friends, work, and family. And they aren’t always using healthy methods to cope.” The survey found that only 28% are playing sports to cope with stress whereas 46% use video games and 43% surf the internet to decompress. This means that more and more kids are sitting all day at school and then coming home to sit in front of a screen. Summer camp gets kids out of their routine and out of the chair. Even indoor, educational summer camps allow time and space for physical movement to complement a very mentally oriented curriculum.
Summer camp allows kids to rest and rejuvenate from the stress of daily life
Kristen Race, author of Mindful Parenting, “says the fact that stress levels dip in the summer suggests how important summer is to kids’ mental health…‘if you look at teen suicide statistics, stress is one of the things that leads to suicide attempts,’ she says. ‘It’s incredibly important to have the downtime, and it makes sense to have a dramatic shift in the summer.”
This shift is relevant no matter what the summertime activity entails. The simple switch away from deadlines and tests and academic pressure to more hands-on activities can help kids unwind from a packed school year.
Even if they are still attending an academic or mentally challenging summer camp, providing a new framework in which they can operate and think gives them a chance to utilize and strengthen different capacities of the brain. It’s like rotating a workout – summer is equivalent to the off-days for the brain so that the muscle can rebuild itself before the next workout. Replacing academics with relaxing activities and rest through camp or even a modest part-time job helps kids release the tension and stress built up during the year.