Overnight camps nourish youth to grow into strong adults

Overnight camps help young campers learn valuable life skills that enhance their lives in college and beyond. Numerous studies have shown youth benefit from attend- ing sleep-away camps.

The American Camp Association lists numerous benefits young people develop through their experiences at residential camps. In terms of social skills development, campers learn leadership, communication and participation skills. Campers also learn skills that make them valuable members of communities, including a sense of caring, fairness, citizenship and trustworthiness. They build character and gain self-respect as they gain skills in responsibility, resourcefulness and resilience.

In his blog “Nurturing Resilience,” on the website of Psychology Today, Dr. Michael Ungar, PhD, has explored why kids who went to summer camp are more successful in college. Ungar points out that camp makes kids resilient. Campers form new relationships; learn how to be proud of their achievements; have the chance to be “just kids” who interact without the baggage they carry at school; feel in control of their own lives; get a day balanced with activity, fresh air and good food; gain a sense of belonging; and acquire an awareness of culture. That last benefit is why some families choose Jewish camps. Several studies show Jewish camps have the added benefit of building Jewish identity to create confident, engaged Jewish adults. For instance the Camp Works study by the Foundation for Jewish Camp found that as adults, former campers are: 45% more likely to attend synagogue monthly or more; 55% more likely to be very emotionally attached to Israel; and 30% more likely to donate to a Jewish charity.

For nearly 100 years, the American Camp Association, with more than 7,000 members, has worked to ensure the quality of camp programs and to make sure campers have the opportunity to learn powerful lessons in community, character-building, skill development and healthy living – lessons they say can be learned nowhere else.

According to the ACA website (acacamps.org), “Camp provides children with a community of caring adults, who nurture experiential education that results in self-respect and appreciation for human value. All of the outcomes – self-identity, self-worth, self-esteem, leadership and self-respect – build personal competencies. … For years, campers’ parents have reported that when their children return home from camp, they are more caring, understand the importance of giving, are more equipped to stand up for what they know is right and are willing to be more responsible. These are the qualities that will help build a successful nation and a civil society.”

 

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