After over a year of quarantine and virtual school, kids are in dire need of time to really connect with their peers, and the best place I know for true friendships is summer camp. We had 2 weeks of camp last summer and were able to create a safe bubble where kids could feel free and play. This summer will be even safer to allow kids to attend camps. But there are many other reasons beyond covid fatigue for why kids need camp.
No technology enhances connections
What is missing from the picture on this blog? Look closely, and you will notice that not one of these teenage girls is holding her cell phone, and they survived! That is one of the best things about girls coming to a week of our camp; they unplug from technology and plug into nature and friends.
Making new friends
My favorite benefit of a week away at summer camp is the friendships you make. Without parents around, kids get to choose whom they hang out with, and that autonomy gives kids a sense of independence missing in their everyday lives. Because no one knows you, it’s also an opportunity to reinvent yourself, as you have no reputation to live up to or down to. This creates the space for kids to let down their masks and try new activities and personas. At my camp, we spend the morning doing circle time where girls can share their stories and hear other’s experiences as well. They learn that they are not the only one who has faced adversities, and this sharing quickly brings the group closer. Every girl needs a safe space like this to learn, increase their self-awareness, and to grow.
Unstructured down time
Being out in nature all day also slows down the pace of life, and kids actually get to experience some unstructured down time. This summer is the 30th anniversary for Camp Weloki, and we have always made sure that our camps contained lots of unstructured down time that kids lack in their everyday lives. That’s where camp becomes magical, with so many moments of spontaneous fun and creativity. You walk everywhere, and as shown in the photo, you actually give people your full attention because texts and social media don’t distract you. This generates more in-depth conversations and thus more intimacy.
There are endless opportunities to hang out and enjoy your new friends: sharing a cabin, eating all your meals together, singing around a campfire, taking long hikes or canoe rides, watching sunsets, and star gazing at night. Add to that all of the spontaneous explosions of laughter, pranking the counselors, and creating new games, skits, and songs and you’ve got friends for life.
Friends for life
The relationships you experience at summer camp are unique and magical. The absence of technology, the slow pace and unstructured time, and the high level of trust, camaraderie, and shared experience create close ties that can last a lifetime. After suffering through the pandemic, kids need and deserve the freedom and connections that summer camp provides.
For information on Dr. Jordan’s summer camps, visit Camp Weloki
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