Wednesday, July 13, 2016 at 2:35PM
When you hear the word "camp", what thoughts come to mind? For kids, camp signifies the end of another school year and the beginning of carefree summer days swimming, playing sports, and most importantly spending time with friends. At camp kids say goodbye to homework and the inside of a classroom, but they are still learning!
As kids leave home to enjoy a summer of fun at day camp or overnight camp, they embark on important stepping stones. They make new friends and learn to work as part of a team which is known as social-emotional learning. This style of learning has proven that attending summer camp improves a child’s independence, strengthens their ability to create friendships, and develops strong decision making capabilities.
YMCA camps utilize social-emotional learning; staff and campers constantly show their spirit through songs and skits and staffers help guide the kids through social relationships. Taught how to be strong decision makers and handle conflict, kids are better able to tackle any problem that comes their way at camp i.e., a disagreement with a bunkmate.
Making new friends can be scary, but Y camps give children the chance to do so. Staff lead icebreaker games which help kids get to know one another and gives them the chance to meet other kids with the same interests. Being surrounded by positive role models is important to challenge development, and at the Y adult staff demonstrate cooperation and friendship with their campers so that they learn how to get along with others and work as part of a team.
However, the key benefit of camp for kids today is that it allows them to be silly in a safe environment. Campers are encouraged to joke around with one another and sing songs. Funny jokes allow the kids to relax and be themselves, while creating a positive and inclusive environment for everyone!
As camp counsellors Madison and Rebecca are all about creating unforgettable experiences for their campers. Rebecca, an inclusion counselor, focuses on creating child driven relationships by supporting children to build friendships with kids whose behaviours complement one another. "If I see a quiet child, I find a child who is energetic or wants to be supportive to help them feel comfortable", says Rebecca. By playing games, Madison helps camper connection where children have fun and make new friends. With counselors like these, it is no wonder Y campers have such an amazing time! Proof that camp is not just a place for fun, but also a place to learn.