An article in the New York Times this weekend about recess in school made me think how the “unstructured time outside with other children” that camp provides is so important. The article is by Debra Nussbaum and is here. It reports that many American elementary schools are reducing the time devoted to recess. With an emphasis on academics and required standardized testing, the school day is busier and unfortunately recess has been one of the first things to be cut. For many parents, this is an alarming trend.
Recess is important because it provides kids freedom to play as they (and not adults) choose. It’s physical, outdoor time for exploring and growing.
“It’s a time for children to relate to their friends. Society has taken away a lot of children’s childhood. Play is children’s work.”
One of the great things about camp is its ability to provide a safe context for girls to interact in this way. Between our organized activities and meals, campers can play in the creek, sit around and talk, play tetherball, read under a tree, or just run around together— all within the bounds of camp and close by a helpful staff member. As time for recess shrinks at school, time at camp seems even more important.
P.S. Of course, the value of recess as play incudes the value of being outdoors.