Sleepaway camp is a raucous, active place throughout the summer. Water skiers rush across the lake on any given day at camp, volleys bounce off the tennis courts, and guitar-strumming counselors lead campers in rounds of songs. It’s a big shift from everyone’s more sedentary habits at home, but the advantages of overnight camp’s full schedule of activities go beyond exercise and sing-alongs. Every summer, there is also a tremendous transition among campers, many of whom get a significant psychological boost.
Summer camp is one area that can help eliminate the roots of a child’s anxiety and despair that might be prevalent at home when children’s mental health issues continue to rise. A psychologist offers the following ways summer camp might help your child’s mental health.
Camp is the most highly social setting available, especially when contrasted to the numerous virtual experiences our children get at home. Being able to be out of the house all the time, living with other people, and feeling so much more connected to not just individuals your age, but also to the counselors and the camp family — the parents and dads of camp — having that in person, intensive social environment is significant.
It’s also an opportunity for genuine encounters, rather than ones that take place through text, when youngsters might be more cruel or distant, whether on purpose or not. Youngsters don’t always know how to communicate to one other face to face. During camp, social indicators like body language and eye contact help children understand what it’s like to be truly connected and foster more compassionate dialogue.
A Break From Social Media
Being at camp entails a vacation from social media and the associated fear of missing out (FOMO). A youngster can be much more aware of being left out of things on platforms like Life360, which can be quite distressing. And apps like Instagram place disproportionate emphasis on beauty and appearance.
While camp photographers do chronicle their stay at camp, such photographs are exclusively available to parents at home. There’s no peer pressure from within a social media platforms, so they get a big break from it all.
Break The Ties to Phones
Not only do students receive a vacation from social media, but they also get a respite from the continual pressures of reacting to peers on their phones. “There’s a lot of strain, especially on teens. I see that a lot in senior and upper camp; there might be a lot of pressure at home to always be on their phones, to not miss Snap[chat], to not ignore liking someone’s Instagram photo, to not ignore text messages.” According to a camp psychologist.
Immersing in Nature
Sleepaway camp also provides much-needed time in nature. Time spent in nature has been linked to reduced stress and improved happiness.
Even children who are resistive to exercise and avoid sports are extremely active at camp — and, as studies often remind us, exercise helps battle sadness, anxiety, and other mental health disorders.
(Temporary) Separation From Parents
This may come as a surprise, but your children benefit from being apart from you as well.
We have a tendency to micromanage our children’s relationships, friendships, and hobbies, as well as their academic performance, and we know it. Our children deserve and, more importantly, benefit from a respite from the pressures of helicopter parenting.
For kids to not feel like we’re watching them and protecting them, we’re empowering them and teaching them how to manage all of these things. This, in turn, encourages independence and more mature thinking — and teaches children that there are other role models in the world besides their parents.