Millions of parents chose camp for their child or teen because of the immense benefits of the experience. Not only does camp foster making new friends and learning 21st century life skills like independence, problem-solving, and teamwork, but it’s also fun! As the summer fades and children return to school, former ACA chief executive officer, Peg Smith, reminds parents to pack a few extra items from camp in the school backpack:
- Confidence — All through the camp experience, children and youth have tried new activities and been successful; they feel empowered.
- Curiosity — Camp has given children and youth the chance to explore, study, and observe in an experiential learning environment.
- Character — Camp has challenged children and youth to develop character — through fostering respect for each other, a sense of community, and the ability to solve problems.
How can parents help transfer these skills into the classroom? ACA suggests the following tips:
- Remember to Remind —When campers come home, they often keep the spirit of camp alive for a week or two, and then things trail off. Use positive reinforcement to remind campers that you appreciate the positive attitude and willingness to help that they developed at camp.
- Become Camp-Like — Families can set the example by demonstrating a willingness to change something at home in order to sustain some of the changes campers have made. Bob Ditter, a clinical social worker and psychotherapist, suggests: “Parents have to make a decision. Are they willing to change something in their practice at home in order to sustain some of the changes their kids have made, such as having a job wheel that you put up on the wall outlining chores?”
- Everyone Gets a Say — At camp, children help determine how their day is spent. Their advice is actively sought, and they feel like equal players. Emulating this environment at home allows them to continue to stand up for themselves and feel like a contributing member of the household.
- Avoid the Negative Compliment — Don’t inadvertently sabotage efforts by pointing out differences in behavior. Instead of saying, “you never did this before,” praise the behaviors in a genuine way. For example, “I noticed how patient you were with your little brother.”
“Above all else, let your child know that what they learned at camp is going to serve them well when they go to school this fall,” said Smith.
Watch the video: Peg Smith talks about camp skills to take to school 
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The American Camp Association® (ACA) works to preserve, promote, and enhance the camp experience for children and adults. ACA-Accredited® camp programs ensure that children are provided with a diversity of educational and developmentally challenging learning opportunities. There are over 2,400 ACA-accredited camps that meet up to 300 health and safety standards. For more information, visit www.ACAcamps.org .