Lisa Damour, private psychologist, clinical instructor at Case Western Reserve University and director of the Laurel School Center for Research on Girls, recently wrote “Don’t Make Your Children the Exception to Every Rule” for a NY Times parenting blog called Motherlode. Using the anecdote of an angry father stepping in when Dr. Damour spoke with his daughter about her potential plagiarism, Dr. Damour addresses the need for parents to create conscientious citizens of the world, not exceptions to the rules. “In rushing to the rescue, the father was most likely undermining what he was aiming to protect: his daughter’s future well-being.” Dr. Damour recommends that parents focus on children’s conscientiousness more so than children’s short-term happiness, even if that means emphasizing discipline over short-term joy, or standing aside to let them learn hard life lessons.
Parents aren’t alone in transforming their kids into healthy and happy adults. Societal influences weigh heavily in childhood development, so it’s important to help your kids choose positive peer groups and social settings. Summer camps provide a fun and supportive environment for teaching children real life skills and helping them develop a strong character.
Per Dr. Damour’s argument, summer camps that intersperse elements of discipline and responsibility into their fun activities are helping create well-rounded people, both within the camp and beyond. Equestrian summer camps, for example, teach care for the horses along with riding techniques – campers clean up after the horses, brush and bathe them and keep the barn organized throughout their sessions. Campers at traditional summer camps have regulations for bunk cleanliness, consequences for tardiness and occasional extra duties such as mess hall or bathroom cleanup. Kids are taught to look out for one another and to respect their environment.
Aside from responsibility, summer camps push kids to step beyond their comfort zones and to accept failure as a healthy part of progress. Kids are challenged to perform in front of strangers, to fail at the ropes course until they succeed, to slowly steady their hands in pottery classes and to expand their sense of what’s possible in robotics experiments.
This is not a place where parents call to dispute their child’s grades or performance evaluation. At summer camp, children define their own successes, push through their hurdles on their own, and return home as stronger individuals. As Dr. Damour explains, “Research on well-being – the outcome closest to happiness that psychologists will promise – centers on three core factors: health, relationships and a sense of mastery in one’s chosen pursuits.” In supporting each of those factors, summer camps aid in the development of conscientious kids, and ultimately happier adults.
What Types of Summer Camps are Available?
Summer camps of all kinds can be found in every state in America and throughout Canada. Whether kids are enthusiastic athletes or creative spirits there is a summer camp that is perfect for them. Learn more about:
- Arts summer camps
- Sports summer camps
- Technology and computer camps
- Adventure camps
- Christian camps
- Religious summer camps
- Music camps
- Horseback riding summer camps
Visit the CamPage summer camp online directory with your kids and explore all the opportunities available. Inspire your kids to spend the summer gaining new skills, new friends, and new ways of thinking.
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