A residential summer camp brings together 40 or 50 young people to a country mansion or a field centre, from different schools, different parts of Britain and different backgrounds. At the start they do not know each other, by the end they are a happy and vibrant community of real friends. They play together, laugh together, have fantastic fun and share a holiday they will never forget. But they also acquire benefits and life skills which are of lasting value, for many even life-changing.
Below are 10 important ways in which young people benefit from summer camps:
- Running about and being active in fresh air and green fields: Exploring, playing and doing activities in the great outdoors makes them fitter, happier and more relaxed. It should be part of every child’s birthright.
- Living in a happy and diverse community: Living closely together with others they would otherwise be most unlikely to meet they learn understanding and tolerance. They also learn to recognise and value what they themselves are contributing to the community.
- Making friends with others from different backgrounds: They discover they can make friends with anyone, and they leave with better social skills. They understand that other people’s lives can be very different from their own.
- Learning to play and have fun: In a world away from television, computer games and commercial pressures , they can just be children and have a great time together, enjoying doing the things their age group should be doing – not as common as it should be in our society.
- Finding new things to do and new skills: In the context of a happy holiday they undertake lots of activities, and in the process discover new hobbies or talents. They often find that things which they thought they hated (e.g. team games or singing), can be fun after all.
- Developing imagination, creativity and ideas: Through listening to stories around the fire, singing quiet songs, or thinking of ideas for a communal group project, their imaginative and creative side is encouraged
- Enthusiasm and positivity: By living, doing things and having fun together, they become more enthusiastic and more positive. This can often help with academic results and motivation when back at school.
- Close contact with young adults who act as positive role models: The 18-25 year old leaders who give time to work in summer camps are good role models and friendly people. On summer camps young people have “their own” leader who is always there for them, provides security, help and advice when needed and facilitates a calm, friendly atmosphere amongst the group.
- A healthy and relaxed rhythm of life: Young people soon get into a routine of running about and playing hard, then relaxing, eating well and healthily and sleeping soundly. Parents often comment that they come home bouncing with health.
- Increased self-esteem and independence: On summer camps young people discover that they can get on with others from very different homes, they can make a valuable contribution the community, and they can survive for a week away from family and home friends. This gives a real boost to their self-confidence, their development and growth and to the long-term realisation of their potential.
These benefits could enhance the lives, the skills and the happiness of young people from every background, and residential summer camps offer all of them, amongst other benefits as part of a happy and imaginative holiday week.
The Summer Camps Trust believes that every child should have the benefits and the fun of a summer camp as part of their childhood. We urge you to encourage young people you may know to take part in summer camps so that they too may benefit from all that summer camps have to offer.
Chris Green, The Summer Camps Trust