Camp Builds Independence for Kids

Summer Girls Camp

We’ve often said that attending a kids summer camp like Rockbrook helps children become more self-sufficient and independent. But how does it work? What is it about being at camp that makes this kind of growth possible?

One secret is that camp provides a structured environment where we give children the chance to make their own choices and decisions. At Rockbrook, the girls choose their own activity schedule, rotating to new choices twice a week. There are these structured activity times and plenty of open times throughout the day, thus providing both adult supervision and limits within which the girls feel free to decide what to do. Altogether, camp is a place where kids find success (not to mention tons of fun!), through their own efforts, making choices.

It’s no wonder so many people think of their camp experiences as the most important thing they did as a child.

A Place to Grow

A place for girls to grow

In her book, The Blessing of a Skinned Knee, Wendy Mogel critiques what she sees as a troubling trend in parenting these days— an excessive tendency to shield children from any kind of discomfort.

“Parents are so busy protecting their children that they don’t give them a chance to learn how to maneuver on their own outside home or school.”

Spending time at summer camp serves as a welcome counter force to this trend. As they choose their own activities, sleep in rustic cabins, live with and make new friends, young people at camp are given a great opportunity to grow. Far beyond what parents might orchestrate at home, camp encourages kids to become more independent, to try new things, and to learn from the experience.

It’s a lot of things (like a really fun time!), but perhaps most fundamentally, camp is a setting for exploring who we really are.  Stepping out of our normal routines, we can try new things, endure discomforts and setbacks (try again), and marvel at unexpected accomplishments.

Seen this video? It’s more about how camp is a place for girls to grow.

Nature-Deficit Disorder

Cold Mountain Water

In his recent book, Last Child in the Woods: Saving our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder, Richard Louv talks about summer camp serving as a healthy response to our modern tendency to be “plugged in” (to electronic media) and “in motion” (between school, lessons, sports practice, etc.). He writes, “as the young spend less and less of their lives in natural surroundings, their senses narrow— physiologically and psychologically. This reduces the richness of human experience.” Children these days are suffering from a serious disorder that negatively affects their lives and well-being into their adult lives.

Combating Nature Deficit Disorder

At the same time, there’s something magical about the sort of sustained exposure to nature camps provide. Louv sites an amazing array of studies linking nature experience and healthy child development, and concludes “I believe that offering children direct contact with nature— getting their feet wet and hands muddy— should be at the top of the list of vital camp experiences.” Summer camp is the antidote!