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Summer Camp is Here Again!

For some kids and teenagers, summer is a time to rest, relax, vacation, sleep in and forget about responsibility.  The novelty usually wears off as the second month of summer vacation sets in and the enjoyment is often replaced by excessive sleeping, immersion in video games and social media, and complaining of boredom. Such behavior is common with teenagers.  Younger children can be drawn towards sibling rivalry, excessive videos, and whines of “there’s nothing to do.”   In parenting teens and young kids, you’ll observe that without the routines of the school year, they are prone to getting into mischief.

You don’t need to worry about these things in your household because you have the option of Summer Camp. It offers much fun, adventuring and personal growth are offered there. Summer Camp has a poignant history, as well as a positive track record in providing outdoor activities, fresh air and fostering relationships between older and younger kids.

At the turn of the 20th century, a large influx of immigrants from Eastern Europe came to Ellis Island and then dispersed into New York and the surrounding New England States. With the “American dream” in mind, these immigrants found themselves in low-paying menial jobs, living in small, dilapidated dwellings surrounded by pollution and unclean conditions.  Times were very different then, and since they lacked an understanding of and access to maintaining good hygiene (not to mention that plenty of them were suffering from malnutrition), illness became prevalent. 

At that time, the YMHA (Young Man’s Hebrew Association, a predecessor to the YMCA) decided to address this problem by setting up “Fresh Air Camps” in the beautiful Catskill Mountains.  They were to gathered children from immigrant communities and bring them to these camps for the summer where they would eat balanced meals, play, sing, look at the stars, and, most importantly, learn basic hygiene and other practical skills. 

This was how the institutional Summer Camp movement in America was born.  Each summer, the camp’s mission would grow and change with the needs of the current society.  To this day, summer camp helps with parenting teens and younger children by playing a major role in their development from being healthy, resourceful young people into functional adults.  There are many different types of camps, including Day and Resident Camps, Religious and spiritual camps, scout camps, etc. More recently, “specialty camps” that seek to enhance particular skills in a field such as sports, drama, science, and music camps have come about.   Some focused camps are established to allow youngsters with disabilities and illnesses to be included in the fun of summer too.

Experiencing camp culture and life can definitely benefit young people.  If finances might be a challenge,there are many camps that offer financial assistance programs you can apply for so your child can experience camp first hand..

Camp is beneficial to children for the following reasons. They…

–         Independently complete their first successful craft project, challenging hike,

                or overnight experience at camp;

–         Conquer separation anxiety issues;

–         Become grounded in nature while being active in healthy outdoor fun;

–         Enjoy learning to sing, dance, act and swim;

–         Develop a healthy sense of humor at camp, learning the value of both laughing and crying;

–         Work things out with others, become assertive, show up for themselves,

               taking healthy risks and challenges in expressing their feelings;

–         Experience their first “crush”, first dance, and perhaps in the teen years, a first kiss at camp.

–         Explore issues of fairness, compromise, justice and healthy boundaries at camp;

–         Say enthusiastic hellos, and earnest goodbyes at camp;

–         Carry and keep track of their own stuff, or they lose it!

–         Learn to play simply, co-operatively and fairly with others;

–         Learn to participate as an active citizen of the community;

–         Play in an environment free of media and technology;

–         Experience enthusiasm, develop passion and even taste zeal;

–         Learn to be on a team, when to compete and when to cooperate;

–         Learn to make good decisions;

–         Learn to step out of their zone of comfort and try new   things and even create a new story


If you’re parenting teens, camp can be beneficial for them too.  They can acquire skills to be leaders, mediators, planners, counselors and mentors there.  Their ability  to make quick, ethical and right decisions will be developed there.  They can also develop a sense of responsibility because well-trained counselors and counselors-in-training (CIT’s) make stellar role models for young children. 

Summer camp today continues to uphold the original goals of the first “Clean Air” camps (to help foster good habits, self-care, self-esteem, and righteous behavior).  The specific details of the needs of the day remain dynamic and changing with the times.

If a summer camp isn’t an option for you at this time, there are community recreation classes, clubs,  camping trips, sports activities you may be able to enlist in..  Arranging group play dates with friends can also freshen up the summer blahs.

Summer experiences prepare your child to bring something to the new school year: a strong body, an active mind and a time of real, life-long memories.

For information on camps in Sonoma and Mendocino County, go to,

It’s not too late to sign up, so inquire today!  Good luck and happy trails!

By Rick Concoff c 2013

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Filed under: parenting advice, parenting help, parenting teens, parenting tips, summer camp · Tags: , , ,

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