Ready Campers? It’s Time to Improve Your Mental Health

Now doesn't that look like fun? Photo Credit

Now doesn’t that look like fun?
Photo Credit

I loved camp as a kid. Girl Scout camp, YMCA day camp, overnight camp: I did it all and loved (almost) every minute of it. I’m sure my fond memories of being a camper contribute to my enthusiasm for camp as an adult and parent. But it’s when I am wearing my psychologist hat that I am most enthusiastic about the benefits of summer camp for kids:

Learning new (and unusual?) things.  Not all kids thrive in the traditional school environment.  In addition, some don’t find a true passion amongst the classes and clubs offered there.  Summer camps can provide an opportunity for kids to explore a new interest.  Some of the most interesting offerings I’ve seen in my area include show choir camp, Mine Craft camp, and Egyptian history camp. Who knew?

Staying in the groove.  The often-times relaxed schedules of summer can be wonderful, but we don’t want our kids’ brains to waste away too much!  A few hours at a camp helps their minds (and bodies) stay active, and oftentimes makes it easier to transition back to school schedules when fall comes around.

Living outside the cliques.  Even if your kiddo doesn’t struggle with “friend issues,” summer camps can be a great opportunity to interact with kids from other schools, backgrounds, interests and abilities.  This can often be a welcome relief from living in the cliques or groups in which they normally reside.

Practicing social skills.  Learning how to meet people, make friends, and interact in unfamiliar settings are critical life skills. Summer camps can be great, low-risk opportunities to work on these things. Pushing ourselves slightly outside of our comfort zones can very often be a wonderful thing!

Want to sign your child up for camp but feel worried about how you’ll cope? Check out the American Psychological Association’s article on managing summer camp worries.