The long summer days bring a certain kind of splendor. They ignite creativity, allow friendships to form, memories to be made. And one of summer’s many luxuries is extended time to explore nature.
There’s something about the outdoors that makes us feel more alive. Something as simple as seeing how your shadow falls upon the grass or swimming in a lake to cool off enables you to notice the world around you. Time outdoors nurtures curiosity—in kids and adults. From critters crawling in the soil to the variations of green in the treetops, there’s always something to discover.
Sometimes you just have to be there. You know those moments – you’ve spent all day as a family at the park, at the beach or doing some other activity. Then, a special moment happens. One of your kids drops a deep thought, feeling or fear on you. Your son or daughter, who normally doesn’t share very deeply, just lets you into their lives. It was just a moment, and yet it was more than that.
It might have been:
An invitation for a conversation
A chance to ask a non-probing question
A test to see if you’re trustworthy
But, you could have missed it if you wouldn’t have invested the hours together that allowed this moment to happen. The longer days of summer provide a great chance to reconnect with your kids. Don’t miss it!
We know campers love the craft shack at camp. In a research project conducted by Elmer’s (yes, the ubiquitous glue company) experts discovered many ways that crafting is good for kids. It improves fine motor skills, increases executive function (the ability to plan next steps), and encourages visual processing skills. Mostly though, we know crafting is a whole lot of fun.
If your child goes to camp this summer, you can extend the fun and do some simple crafting at home. Check out our Pinterest board for some easy ideas!
If you’re a student looking for a way to spend your summer, consider working at camp. There are so many ways to serve, and it could be one of your best summers yet.
Interacting with kids
Building life-long friendships
Learning from peers, leaders and campers
Impacting the lives of those around you
Programming behind the scenes
Developing media skills
Leading camp songs
Working as a wrangler or ranch hand
Guiding campers on a ropes course
Driving a boat
Keeping campers safe as a lifeguard
Creating epic videos of camp activities
Living within a tight-knit community
Sharing a common purpose with your coworkers
At camp, life takes on a different pace. You’ll have opportunities to learn more about yourself, play a key role on a team and use your gifts. Former Inspiration Point (Clitherall, Minn.) staffer Andrew Carlson wrote, “The skills and qualities that you learn at camp are some of the most valuable and important things you’ll learn in your lifetime. They translate to almost every other career and certainly to your personal life.”
Don’t waste your summer. Go to ThePowerOfCamp.com to search for a camp that’s hiring and make this summer one to remember.
It’s fairly common to see teens give undivided attention to their phones, and cultural trends indicate smartphone use won’t be going away anytime soon. Parents and youth leaders want to help adolescents navigate technology with wisdom. It can be a challenge when students’ devices are readily accessible, offering a false sense of comfort.
The effects of extensive use can be daunting. “Depression and suicide rates in teenagers have jumped in the last decade—doubling between 2007 and 2015 for girls—and the trend suspiciously coincides with when smartphones became their constant companions.” With screen time averaging around nine hours a day, that’s a significant amount of time to be online.
Researchers have identified “a clear pattern linking screen activities with higher levels of depressive symptoms/suicide-related outcomes and non-screen activities with lower levels.”
Youth workers and camp staff have witnessed positive changes when adolescents go to camp for a week. The students come back lighter and more engaged. The Power of Camp can provide a week without smartphone distractions and offer real face-to-face interactions. As a bonus, time spent in nature decreases levels of depression and improves brain function. At camp, there are loads of opportunities for high-adventure activities and outdoor exploration, giving students reasons to unplug.
As a student, your days are structured and there are schedule limitations for building friendships. Your interactions with peers probably take place during classes, club meetings and a spread of other activities. But extended, uninterrupted time is hard to come by.
In a camp setting, you will have opportunities to meet new friends and build lasting friendships—it’s part of camp’s DNA. Here are three reasons why camp is a great place to develop meaningful, rich friendships:
If you land a summer camp job, you will meet some amazing people. Your peers will likely be from other universities, different states and possibly different countries. Many of your fellow summer staff members will be the same age, experiencing similar life events; pursuing a degree; looking toward the next step. And you’ll get to learn and grow with them throughout the summer.
Your new best friends will be there for life: no exaggeration. Camp friendships are created over shared experiences, inside jokes and working alongside those who have similar passions and work ethics. And those friendships often become some of the deepest, most authentic friendships you’ll have. They can become the kinds of friends who stand next to you in your wedding, the kind who you call when life gets tough or you need advice.
You will learn team collaboration on a whole new level. During the long summer days, so much happens. You can’t make it through the summer on your own. You’ll need friends to help you co-lead small groups, encourage you and help you stay focused. And, in turn, you will learn to do the same for others. Your friends will see the good and bad sides of you, and it’s those friends you can count on to be there for you beyond the summer.
There’s something special about camp friendships. The deep bonds formed at summer camp can serve as foundations for lifelong friendships, and it’s difficult to replicate that kind of depth.
Don’t miss out on developing genuine, lifelong friendships. Apply to spend your summer at camp at FindACampJob.com.
Students’ schedules are packed, and there’s not a lot of uninterrupted time to be still, hang out with friends and process life. They go from school to sports to homework. Then it’s time for bed and the tireless cycle continues.
Amidst a full schedule, there may be some margin for friendships, but a recent study shows those friendships might not be the same quality as students in the past experienced. The missing ingredient? Empathy.
A study from the University of Michigan found today’s students are not as empathetic as students in the 1980s and ‘90s. “The sociology department at the University of Michigan, led by Dr. William Axinn at the Population Studies Center, tells us that college students today are approximately 40 percent less empathetic than they were just 10 years ago.” 1
Given the realities of their world such as excess screen time, information overload, virtual reality and a lack of positive role models, youth become desensitized to life events that should evoke empathy.
Students can benefit from face-to-face interactions with positive role models who are willing to listen and show students how to care for others. Summer camp counselors are notorious for being fun and high-energy, but they also can serve as guides for campers to learn to listen well and how to care for their peers.
While at camp, group games and cabin time also provide space to connect with their peers and to practice empathy. Recognizing social cues can happen when youth have extended time together—and aren’t rushed from activity to activity.
What if more students were able to experience one week of camp? Or a whole summer away? Time spent at camp can help re-set a student’s perspective and equip them to understand others in a more empathetic way.
Need ideas to keep your kids occupied this summer? Here are some activities that will keep your crew from boredom until it’s time for summer camp.
1. Read a book together.
2. Volunteer as a family.
3. Participate in library story times and activities.
4. Reading contests.
5. Paper airplane races.
6. Train the family dog with some new tricks.
7. Plan meals/grocery shop/cook together.
8. Visit garage sales to find new fun family games.
9. Sleep in a tent in your own yard.
10. Make s’mores on your own grill.
11. Teach budgeting and have kids create a budget for the summer.
12. Participate in the kids’ building project at the local hardware store.
15. Wash the family car together.
16. Lemonade stand to raise money for your favorite charity.
17. Paint rocks and place them around your property.
18. Make homemade ice cream.
19. Have a fast food progressive dinner (burger one place, fries at another, etc.)
20. Stargaze after researching stars.
21. Invite neighbors to dinner with homemade invites, placemats, etc.
22. Collect bugs. Research the amazing characteristics of each critter.
23. Have a contest to see who can go without technology the longest.
24. Host a talent show for neighborhood kids.
25. Teach basic filming/editing skills and create a family movie night with your family’s own movies!
26. Game Night!
27. Learn sleight of hand tricks from YouTube instructional videos.
28. Play in the sprinklers.
29. Grow and tend a garden.
30. Make a prayer list and use it.
Tips submitted by Amberly Neese (UCYC, Prescott, Ariz.)
Did you know teens who spend more time outdoors are better students? This study found teens who played outside regularly performed better in school than those who didn’t. The same study found teens who don’t go outside as often as their peers are more likely to be lonely and shy.
Going outdoors reduces anxiety and stress in teens, and the benefits are almost immediate. When teens become campers for a week, they can embrace a slower pace of life. If there’s ever been a time for students to detach from technology, it’s now. “For teenagers who spend much of their time stressed out, overbooked and online, spending time outside is a critical way to decompress and reconnect.”
If reducing stress and anxiety weren’t reasons enough, going outside also supports higher quality of sleep. Let’s say a camper spends his or her afternoon swimming, playing gaga ball and hiking. They’re contributing to their brain and muscle development, resulting in better sleep patterns and overall health.
Camp supports thriving students who will leave renewed and will know what it’s like to live unplugged. Find a camp for your teen so they can experience the power of camp.
How do you support your child’s sense of wonder? Their abundant curiosity paves the way for learning, and they’re eager to discover new facts about the world they live in—especially the great outdoors. While 96 percent of parents say it’s important for their kids to have “a connection with nature,” kids are spending less time in outside. One study found “children today spend half the time their parents did playing outside.”
This summer as you’re looking for fun things for your kids to do, consider camp as a smart way to challenge them and to beat boredom. You can find camps with your child’s favorite activities such as horseback riding or mountain boarding. Search for outdoor education, aquatic skills or other program-specific camps here.
Time as a kid doesn’t last long, and the more you can do as a parent to foster learning opportunities will help your kids become life-long learners. “That’s what childhood should be about: getting outdoors and going on adventures, using your imagination to customize the world you see and feeding that appetite for fresh air and fun.”
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