Healthy and Active Living at Camp
Summer break gives families a well-deserved rest from the busy school year, and as a parent, you want your children to enjoy their time off from tests and homework. However, you might also worry about the long hours they spend watching TV or playing video games. In the absence of regular schedules, PE class, recess, and school sports teams, making sure your kids lead a healthy and active lifestyle becomes a top priority.
Fortunately, summer camp offers just such a lifestyle. While iPods, computers, and cell phones are great sources of entertainment, every child deserves to experience the thrill of camping out under the stars and the fun of jumping into a lake. If you’re still undecided about sending your kids to camp, consider the following benefits.
• Camp teaches children to appreciate nature.
Environmental care has become one of the most important issues of our day. A camp that hosts plenty of outdoor activities will educate the next generation about their responsibilities to conserve and sustain the natural world. Summer camps are located in a variety of beautiful surroundings, including mountains, woods, coasts, and plains. No matter what region of the country you live in, you can find a camp that celebrates the great outdoors.
The types of activities at a nature camp include more than just hiking and swimming. Campers might learn wilderness survival skills, enroll in classes about conservation, take care of animals on a farm, collect and catalog species of plants, volunteer for projects like cleaning up a park, adopt a new hobby like bird watching, or participate in exciting outdoor sports like rock climbing or horseback riding. Your kids will grow to love nature no matter their skill level or experience.
• Camp promotes exercise and an active lifestyle.
At summer camp, kids won't have time to think about all the gadgets they left at home. They'll be too busy swimming in the pool, playing basketball or softball, taking part in messy games, and running around outside with their friends.
Whether your kids attend a sports camp, a nature camp, or a travel camp, they can get plenty of fresh air. From extreme sports to overnight backpacking trips, the majority of summer camps encourage exercise, an essential part of a healthy lifestyle. Even non-athletic programs, such as academic or music camps, have opportunities to get moving through free time or through walking across campus every day.
• Camp encourages children to step out of their comfort zones.
One of the main goals of a good summer camp is to inspire campers to try new things. Your kids will have the adventure of a lifetime when they scale a climbing wall, navigate a high ropes course, paddle a canoe, ride down a zip line, or go mountain biking. Even a mild sport like basketball, soccer, capture-the-flag, or ultimate Frisbee can instill confidence in kids if they had previously been afraid to try it. As their counselors and peers cheer them on, campers learn to push themselves physically and excel at activities they wouldn't have even attempted outside of camp.
Of course, healthy living encompasses more than just exercise, and summer camp can teach children to progress emotionally as well as move physically. Kids will branch out of their comfort zones by socializing with adults and peers in a non-academic setting, meeting people from diverse backgrounds, and encountering different outlooks on life.
Rather than sitting alone at home in front of the TV, kids at camp learn to thrive in community with others. This facet of healthy living helps them master decision making, cooperation, and relationship building so that they grow into well-rounded individuals.
• Camp provides a safe environment to develop socially.
Unlike school, camp brings together kids who are excited to be there, and since everyone is new, camp offers a safe environment to meet friends without the pressure of fitting into cliques. Campers often develop crucial social skills at this juncture, skills that they can apply to life outside of camp.
In addition, staff members make excellent role models for healthy, active living. Kids who are not enthused about an early morning hike or a particular sport can observe their counselors having fun, and if the staff are excited about an outdoor activity, campers will likely follow suit. By witnessing older teens and adults with a passion for nature, health, and exercise, kids will appreciate a non-sedentary lifestyle and realize that there are plenty of fun things to do besides video games and TV.