Bridging the Summer Achievement Gap

 

To a certain extent, all children experience learning loss during the summer months when the school year ends. The temporary cessation of formal classes provided by the school has the effect of reducing the amount of quality organized learning opportunities resulting in the loss of some of the educational growth that previously occurred during the academic year. Research spanning 100 years shows that students typically score lower on standardized tests at the end of summer vacation than they do on the same tests at the beginning of the summer (White, 1906; Heyns, 1978; Entwisle & Alexander 1992; Cooper, 1996; Downey et al, 2004).

The achievement gap refers to the persistent disparity of test scores and assessments between groups of students, especially groups defined by socioeconomic status, race/ethnicity, and gender. Summer plays a huge role in the problem — and the solution. Johns Hopkins University researchers estimate that as much as two-thirds of the achievement gap can be traced to summer learning loss in school. And because that loss is cumulative, the achievement gap may never close. Screen Shot 2016-01-11 at 4.58.52 PMDuring the summer months, under-represented children tread water at best or even fall behind, while children from more advantaged families build their skills steadily.

Many Americans have a wonderful image of summer as a carefree, happy time when “kids can be kids,” and take for granted the prospect of enriching experiences such as summer camps, time with family, and trips to museums, parks, and libraries. Unfortunately, many under-represented youths face anything but idyllic summer months, often struggling to access educational opportunities, as well as basic needs such as healthy meals and adequate adult supervision.

 

Parents with the means invest more time and money than ever before in their children while lower-income families, which are now more likely to be headed by a single parent, are increasingly stretched for time and resources (1).

Children whose families are not struggling financially have more opportunities to participate in camps and other educational programs during the summer that will help their minds stay sharp and retain more of what they learned during the school year (2).

Longitudinal studies indicate that the effects of summer learning programs endure for at least two years after participation (3).

achievement gap graph

We believe that the children of families who are financially disadvantaged should have the same opportunity. A Thousand Summers Camperships help under-represented children learn independence and safe risk-taking, build essential mentor relationships, and reap the benefits of connecting with nature. Research shows that summer learning programs such as summer camps remove barriers to success, with participating students showing improved school attendance, and more positive attitudes toward learning.

 

1. New York Times, Feb 9, 2012, Education Gap Grows Between Rich and Poor, Studies Say. Sean F. Reardon, Stanford University, Whither Opportunity? Rising Inequality and the Uncertain Life Chances of Low-Income Children
2. The American Camp Association 2016
3. Making Summer Count: How Summer Programs Can Boost Children’s Learning, RAND Corporation 2011

Laughing, Learning, and Leading

Each year, A Thousand Summers is honored to have some of our campers selected to prestigious leadership positions and programs at our associate camps. This year is no exception.

Our campers are regularly recognized for their strong personal and social skills, their successful camp outcomes, and their positive contributions to the camp community. Some of our kids are hired and return to camp as staff members, giving them the opportunity to give back and provide a fun and personally enriching experience for other kids.

We want to introduce you to three of our campers who are leaping into leadership roles this summer:

Meet Tomas 

  • Tomas D.
  • 10th grade, 16 years old
  • Lives in Miami Beach, Florida
  • Has attended Camp Kawanhee for 3 years (2017-2019)

I have seen counselors from the Leadership Program and how they inspire younger campers. It is amazing to be chosen…Being a leader at camp is a pressure, but a good kind of pressure. I know I am now going to be able to have a positive impact on younger campers. – Tomas D.

His first year as a camper, Tomas was nervous. Getting on a plane alone for the first time was scary, as was going to Maine, which was just a word on a map.  When he got there, he was instantly comforted by counselors and lodgemates, welcomed, and introduced to all of the activities. He knew right away he was going to love camp.

Over the years, Tomas tried a lot of the camp activities.  His second year he tried sailing but did not like it—he couldn’t even stay on the boat. His third year, he wanted to give sailing another try and found he really enjoyed it. He ended up receiving the Barnacle Award that year. Tomas hopes to use his sailing experience and what he has learned about perseverance to encourage younger campers who may not succeed at an activity right off.  If they just keep trying they will find somewhere that they will succeed.

Tomas has put that resilience and hard work to good use away from camp as well. He is on the rowing team at school and has the coxswain position because he knows how to guide the boat. He knows how to lead the crew and to get people to follow by showing them the way, not pushing them to do something they do not want to. He is a natural leader that people like to follow.

According to Tomas, Kawanhee is a tight community and as a junior counselor this summer he will draw on what he has observed and been taught by his counselors. “I have seen counselors from the Leadership Program and how they inspire younger campers.  It is amazing to be chosen. With school being from home, every day has been repetition so to escape away to camp is so exciting.  Being a leader at camp is a pressure but a good kind of pressure. I know I am now going to be able to have a positive impact on younger campers.”

Liz Standen, the co-Executive Director of Camp Kawanhee, speaks very highly of Tomas and is excited to have him back at camp in a leadership role this summer. Liz says, “Tomas is a boy who demonstrates social maturity well beyond his years.  He is resourceful and his many interests and contributions to the community are notable, especially in the positive attitude and motivation he brings to all that he does.”

Tomas’ mentor, Gwendolyn Foote, agrees and believes that Kawanhee couldn’t have chosen a better candidate for their Leadership Program. Gwendolyn mentored Tomas at school when he was in 8th grade and shares that he was an amazing leader, helping the other students and supplementing the lesson she was teaching. Tomas would pull kids aside that were struggling with the lesson and guide them to the solution. Tomas is a very interpersonal person and likes communicating, collaborating, and brainstorming with others so the pandemic isolation has been a challenge. Gwendolyn is excited that he will be going to camp to interact with others again. Most importantly, “The kids he will be leading at camp are lucky for him to be their role model. He’s got no ego. He is patient. He is a true leader and teacher.”

Tomas’ mom, Stella, is so grateful for Tomas’ time at camp. His brother attended a different camp, and Kawanhee became Tomas’ own special place where he could thrive. Stella is excited for Tomas this summer and all that he will gain from the experience. “We are so happy and thankful for the opportunity for Tomas to go to camp and be selected for the Leadership Program. He really needs camp this summer after a difficult year of remote learning. I cannot think of a better place for him to be.”

We can’t either, Stella, and we look forward to hearing about Tomas’ positive impact on the Kawanhee community he loves so much!

Meet Jade 

  • Jade L.
  • 11th grade, 17 years old
  • Lives in Chicago, Illinois
  • Has attended Clearwater Camp for Girls for 3 summers (2017-2019)

I’m willing to put the kids first… to give them a memorable experience. I think it’s fun to be around kids, and I want to be a positive role model, encourage them when they might be down or need a boost. – Jade L.

When Jade was a first summer camper at Clearwater Camp for Girls, she was shy but curious with a spark in her eyes that yearned for adventure. She was reserved at first, but once she got to know the people around her, other campers knew she was a true friend. The following summers Jade participated in more and more activities, especially all of the water sports and the hiking trips, and came out of her shell in her cabin.

Jade is grateful to have had the opportunity to go to Clearwater Camp for Girls for the last several years and meet people from all over the world. At camp Jade learned to be good with being herself, without concern about trying to be different to fit in.  At camp, everyone is different, from different areas of the country, different ethnicities, different income levels but they all become a family. When Jade is at camp, she becomes her best self.

Camp has helped Jade become independent and more confident. Her increased confidence made the transition from middle school to high school much smoother. It gave her confidence to approach a teacher when she had questions, where before she was too shy. As a result, her grades have improved. Her confidence gives her a voice when she sees others being bullied and she speaks up for them.

Camille Vicino, Jade’s mentor at Metro Achievement Center in Chicago, shares, “When Jade talks about camp she comes to life. She talks about her friends, cooking over campfires and not having a cell phone with the biggest smile. She’s learned to feel valued through the campership program. She has learned that she is able to achieve big things and work hard to achieve her goals. She is a leader by example, always doing what’s asked of her and ready to step up when needed.“

For summer 2021, Jade will have a new adventure at camp, participating in Clearwater’s Leadership program, the equivalent of a Counselor In Training (CIT) program. Jade will learn how to teach activities, take care of campers in their cabins and participate in seminars. Seminars cover topics such as conflict resolution, problem solving, and community building. Through this experience, Jade hopes she can be a role model for younger Latino campers and that they will see someone in Leadership that looks like them.

Jade is child-focused. She loves to work with young people, and she will bring that joy to the other campers at Clearwater. Jade says, “I’m willing to put the kids first…give them a memorable experience. I think it’s fun to be around kids, and I want to be a positive role model, encourage them when they might be down or need a boost.”

Additionally, Jade wants to set her career path in education. This summer will be a fantastic opportunity for her to put some teaching into practice. Jade is looking forward to teaching swimming and said that she’d like to bring water polo to camp. And, according to the directors of Clearwater, they would love that!

Liz Baker, the Executive Director at Clearwater, says that “Jade is a good listener, and this will be a big help to our campers and staff this summer. She knows that getting to know people as individuals is a vital part of being a leader. Jade is an excellent person for our girls to look up to!”

Erika, Jade’s mom, is proud that Jade was selected for the Leadership Program. “Attending camp and being in the Leadership program will help Jade as she moves on to college. She feels confident in being away from home and this will give her the confidence that no matter where she goes and whatever she experiences, it will be ok. She can handle it.”

We agree—Jade is prepared for anything and everything and will be a wonderful role model and teacher!

Meet Branden
  • 21 years old, sophomore at Bradley University
  • Lives in Chicago, Illinois
  • Attended Camp Kawanhee for 3 years (2015-2017)
  • 2021 Kawanhee Staff

I love the idea that younger Hispanic campers will see me and know that they can be a leader someday. I want to be a role model for them. I will bring a unique perspective because of my diverse background. It feels like an honor. – Branden M.

Branden was a camper at Kawanhee for two summers and then one summer as a Junior Counselor. He is a sophomore at Bradley University in Peoria, IL, double majoring in political science and economics. He hopes to go to law school in the future and was inspired to pursue a legal career by Mark Standen, the co-Executive Director of Camp Kawanhee who is an attorney. This will be Branden’s first summer as a counselor.

Liz Standen, Mark’s wife and the co-Executive Director of Kawanhee said of Branden being on staff this summer, “We were so happy to see Branden’s staff application.  Branden is a responsible, polite, positive person, who is also kind, compassionate and sensitive.  Can’t wait to see how these qualities will be shared with our campers this summer!”

Branden’s camp story and his pathway to leadership are told best by Branden himself:

“Being away from home and at camp, I was able to let my guard down and be a kid. I love the amount of kind, empathetic support the camp leaders were able to provide for me. They were willing to give me the tools to learn. I want to support others like I have been supported. Camp is a safe place where everyone is allowed to be themselves, and I want to offer that to others and protect this safe haven.

I found my long lost brothers at camp. I met kids from all over the world. Now as I consider study abroad opportunities, I can ask friends from camp who live all over the world to give me pointers on their country. I have no limits.

Being given the opportunity to go to camp and enter a world I didn’t even know existed and getting to know those around me and their character was a true gift. Camp made me the confident individual I am now. Now I understand that I belong here—that I deserve to have a seat at this table and I can talk to anyone. I lacked this belief before camp.

I love the idea that younger Hispanic campers will see me and know that they can be a leader someday. I want to be a role model for them. I will bring a unique perspective because of my diverse background. It feels like an honor.

I want to take this time to truly thank A Thousand Summers for everything that you’ve done for me and all the other Foundation campers. Without you, this city kid wouldn’t have experienced a 7 AM polar plunge in Webb Lake! Without you, I wouldn’t have been able to climb the highest point on the Appalachian Trail. I wouldn’t have been able to go to that little town in Weld, Maine, and eat pink hot dogs with my long-lost brothers!

Camp has impacted me in more ways than I can even begin to explain. It provided me with a sense of confidence, the pathway to self-discovery, and above all taught me to be more empathetic in my daily life. I am determined to one day pay it forward and send a Cheley Foundation camper to camp!”

We can’t wait for that day, Branden, and are proud of the path you are blazing!


A Thousand Summers Campers in 2021 Leadership Programs

Congratulations to our A Thousand Summers campers and alums in leadership positions this summer! We are so proud of our campers, their achievements, and their strong leadership skills. They will be incredible role models for the campers they work with this summer, and we wish them the best!

How Campers Become Leaders

Camp gives kids the chance to immerse themselves in nature and get away from the technology that often occupies them. The benefits are numerous, including personal growth, teamwork, physical exercise, and, of course, friendship. However, there is one tremendous benefit that is often overlooked – Leadership Development.

“Leaders are likely to have had developmental experiences well before reaching mid-management and these early development experiences are important for adulthood,” write psychologists Susan Murphy and Stefanie Johnson, who believe leadership skills can be developed as early as 2 years of age. “We argue that early experiences create the foundation for future leadership development to build on.”

Summer camp is one of these opportunities for early leadership development – developing skills that children will carry throughout their lives. More often than not, children who attend summer camp become people who can lead with flexibility, think creatively on their feet, organize people for a common purpose, and infuse the workplace with positive corporate culture and cheer.

At camp, children learn a number of important leadership skills:

• Conflict Resolution: Campers are “encouraged to respect the differences between people,” says Michael Brandwein, speaker and consultant. “Children are taught responsible and positive ways to resolve conflicts.”

• Teamwork: At camp, children “learn to navigate through group dynamics, to barter, to keep one another happy, to be sensitive and support a friend who’s sad,” says James Spearin, YMCA Senior Vice President of Youth Development. Campers learn how to positively communicate with others and the group living at camp helps campers work with their peers and participate in daily group decision making.

• Problem Solving & Social Development: “At camp, children learn to problem-solve, make social adjustments to new and different people, learn responsibility, and gain new skills to increase their self-esteem,” says Peter Scales, Ph.D., a senior fellow with the Search Institute in Minneapolis. Campers learn how to problem solve through activities like navigating a route by using map and compass or rationing out food and planning menus for a 5-day backpack.

• Positive Feedback & Praise: A large part of leadership is not only motivating a team, but also providing meaningful feedback in a positive way. Positive communication is all about presenting learning opportunities. Even in failure, there is a chance for personal growth and development. It is up to a leader to recognize these opportunities and affect change.

As campers grow older many camps offer a “Camper-in-Leadership Training” (CILT) program, a formalized leadership program designed for 9th and 10th grade high school students. A CILT program provides hands-on leadership opportunities where participants assist younger age camper groups. It is common for a camp’s best staff members to be graduates from CILT programs.

Next summer 12 JACF campers will join CILT programs across our 9 associate camps. One of those campers is Izzy, a high school junior from Kansas who will be participating in the CILT program at Cheley Colorado Camps as a 5th summer JACF camper. Watch the video below to hear how camp has provided Izzy with opportunities to become a leader today and in the future.

Summer camp experiences build the foundations of strong children who can lead others, show empathy, navigate through difficult group dynamics, value the differences in everyone, and give of oneself for the benefit of others. These skills learned during adolescence continue to develop and eventually result in adults with strong character and leadership.

Evidence for the Impact of the Camp Experience

Why we do what we do

Low-income students typically have limited access to summer enrichment opportunities which is known to result in them falling behind academically in the early part of the school year. JACF provides these motivated and deserving young people with the opportunity to reduce the impact of this phenomenon known as “summer slide” by sending them to a multi-week summer camp experience where they continue to learn and grow.  This enables them to return to school in the fall with the ability to perform to their true potential. By removing the financial barriers to high-quality summer enrichment, we are able to immediately influence their academic success, as well as foster highly relevant personal skills that have the potential to alter their life’s trajectory.

What camp provides

Research indicates that summer camps play an important role in the development of young people. Results show that the positive supportive environments that camps create provide young people with the opportunity to grow socially, develop important life skills (including critical workforce-relates skills), and experience nature, all in a fun, hands-on setting.

Gathering Evidence for the Impact of Camp

In collaboration with the American Camp Association (www.acacamps.org), we have embarked upon a multi-year research-based project to collect data from all of our campers and their parents or guardians. The project is designed to evaluate the impact of the summer camp program upon NINE specific skills that help build successful contributing members of society. The project is based on questionnaires that are statistically tested, specific to the summer camp program, and are age appropriate.

Measuring the outcomes of attending camp is an important piece in understanding the value of the partnership we have established together.

Our campers reported growth in the following areas as a direct result of attending camp this summer: INDEPENDENCE, TEAMWORK, PERCEIVED COMPETENCE, FRIENDSHIP, CITIZENSHIP, RESPONSIBILITY, AFFINITY FOR NATURE, INTEREST IN EXPLORATION and PROBLEM SOLVING.

Significant growth in AFFINITY FOR NATURE was expressed by 43% of our campers, while 30% told us that their PROBLEM SOLVING skills and their INTEREST IN EXPLORATION had increased significantly because of their camp experience this summer.

This year was one of the best summers I’ve ever had, it was like nothing I have experienced yet. Being a Junior Counselor was crazy…for the first week all the JCs lived together – these are my best friends, we have built camaraderie over the last five years and this year we learned more about each other than any of us thought possible. We shared about our lives, our passions, and how we want to be remembered. As JCs we had responsibilities and liberties that we had never had before at camp. As well as being authority figures in our individual lodges we had to balance work in activities with service learning projects. It was one of the most defining year I have had thus far.

Camp has caused me to act more mature because now I am a role model to younger kids around camp. I feel camp has allowed me to resolve issues more thoroughly than I would have prior to camp. I make sure that all loose ends are tied and that everyone can go home happy. I am very thankful that due to camp I can solve all my little issues and whatever larger ones come up in my life. Due to camp, I have learned how to adapt to group situations more and therefore am more effective when working with a group of my peers. At camp the entire time you are there you are placed into group situations, resulting in me developing more of an accepting personality which allows me to listen to everyone’s opinions and take them at face value and not be offended if they contradict my own beliefs.

Because of camp I feel like I am more capable as a human being. I know things that none of my other friends know, I can build a fire with my hands and I can identify different types of trees and build solid structures. Camp has definitely shown me that I am capable of more than I had thought before I went to camp.  I’ve done things I never thought I would, I’ve been put in situations where I’m not exactly comfortable and therefore I have gained knowledge about my limits and how I can break past them. I know I can be successful because overall I am more capable than I would be if I had never gone to camp.

– Kai R. (5th summer camper / 1st summer junior counselor)

   

 

Amber Martinez shared how camp has impacted her 14 year old son Dom:

I was amazed at how much more mature and independent he was when he came back from camp. He knows what responsibilities he needs to take care of and handles them. Learning has always been relatively difficult for my son due to his learning disabilities but this year he seems to be enjoying class more and is more interested in class. He has always been good about working in groups especially because he is the type of person to put other’s needs ahead of his own however I’ve seen a shift in the person he’s become in group settings. He used to be more of the supporter/helper but now he’s become more of a leader in group situations.

I think the amount of confidence he has gained is incredible and it is helping him so many different aspects of his life. It’s exciting seeing how he has developed and grown.

For more stories about How Camp Impacted Our Campers This Summer read our blog post: Nine Amazing Campers Share Their Experiences At Nine Incredible Camps

The Rookie: The Epic Quest of a First Time Camper

Experiences OF and FOR a lifetime…

Kayla Gallegos, from Chicago, IL can’t wait! She’s going on an epic quest this summer, where she will have adventures and make memories that will last a lifetime. As a first-time recipient of a John Austin Cheley Foundation Campership Award, Kayla will attend Ogichi Daa Kwe, located in International Falls, MN.

However, Kayla and her mother know that a residential summer camp experience can be both exciting and scary. But while the send-off is often the most emotional part, the opportunities that await are highly rewarding, exhilarating and often life-changing. The memories and friendships made, and the skills attained last long after the summer has passed. The personal growth and development that takes place can be the launch pad for a life’s new trajectory.

Kayla shared her feelings about camp,

Spending four weeks in an outdoor setting is very exciting (to me). I’m looking forward to all the activities and meeting new friends. I’m nervous about not adapting to the setting.

Kayla’s mother explained that,

My daughter doesn’t have much experience in nature but its something she would like to experience. Her comfort level is very high and she is really excited. She is always excited to learn new things and to explore places she has never been to.

 

Heading off to overnight camp is a chance for Kayla to leave behind the ordinary routine and the challenges that can be present and go on an adventure, learning cool skills, making new friends and gaining a sense of courage and independence, in an environment that is all her own. For the first time Kayla will be navigating the world of camp and making decisions away from her mom and dad, all the while being fueled with a newfound confidence. For her part all she has to do is remember that there is no right or wrong way to experience camp. Her job is to just relax, have fun and grow.

What Does Kayla Have To Look Forward To As She Prepares For This Epic Quest?

New Relationships

Not just with peers, but with trusted adults other than her parents. The campers and staff commit on the first day to be respectful of themselves, each other, and all living things. This foundation for the community will enable Kayla to form friendships that are more meaningful because she is able to be her “best self.” Just think about how useful a skill like that is: being able to negotiate on her own with an adult or peer for what she needs.

A Powerful Identity

This will make her feel confident in front of others. She may not be the best on the ropes course, the fastest swimmer, or the next teen idol when she sings, but chances are that a good camp counselor is going to help her find something to be proud of that she can do well.

Self-Efficacy

Camp will help Kayla feel in control of her life, and those experiences of self-efficacy can travel home as easily as a special art project or the pinecone they carry in their backpack. Children who experience themselves as competent will be better problem-solvers in new situations long after their laundry is cleaned and the smell of the campfire forgotten.

Fair Treatment

Camps make sure that all children are treated fairly. The wonderful thing about camps is that Kayla will get to start without the baggage she carries from school. At camp she will find opportunities to just be a kid who is valued for who she is.

Physical Development

At camp Kayla will get what she needs to develop physically. Ideally, fresh air, exercise, a balance between routine and unstructured time, and all the good food her body needs. Not that s’mores don’t have a place at the campfire, but camp will also help Kayla understand a healthy lifestyle.

A Sense of Belonging

Perhaps best of all, camp will offer Kayla a chance to feel like she belongs. All those goofy chants and team songs, the sense of common purpose and attachment to the identity that camp promotes will go a long way to offering Kayla a sense of being rooted.

A Better Sense of (his/her) culture

It might be skit night, or a special camp program that reflects the values of the camp community, or maybe it’s just a chance for Kayla to understand herself a bit more as she learns about others. Camp will give Kayla both cultural roots and the chance to understand others who have cultures very different than her own.

Homesickness (yes, that’s right it is a gift)

Homesickness is a good thing. Learning to overcome homesickness is a critical developmental process in any child’s life that can only occur by going through it. Summer camp is a great place for Kayla to practice this skill because the counselors and staff are trained to coach her through the experience. Studies suggest that 97% of campers feel some form of homesickness their first time away from home with most campers discovering healthy ways to cope within 48 hours of arriving at camp.

That’s an impressive list of factors that good camping experiences provide our children.

Be Like Kayla And Invest In Camp. It’s worth it

The research is speaking loud and clear and experts agree that camp is important for the health, well-being, and development of children. Going to summer camp enables children to practice 21st century skills like grit, resilience, curiosity, gratitude, optimism, and self-control. Rumor has it is that children who attend summer camp are more likely to be successful college students too.

5 Reasons Why Every Child Should Go To Summer Camp: #3 – Take Safe Risks and Create Challenge

Teens thrive on risk. Thanks to recent findings* about the unique attributes of the teen brain, we now understand the reason for the “mortality bump” for 17-year-old boys. They do stupid, daring things not because they aren’t aware of the dangers, but because—to them—the reward of leaping from a rocky cliff or speeding along a curvy mountain road seems to far outweigh the risk. But what does this have to do with summer camp?

The answer lies in the third of our 5 reasons why EVERY child should go to summer camp:

REASON #3: Take Safe Risks and Create Challenge

A teen at camp has the opportunity to take many safe, controlled risks. Climbing to new heights on a rock wall or ropes course, jumping the wake of a boat on a wake board, or reaching the peak of a 10,000-foot summit are all healthy risks teens take at camp. Plus, being in a controlled camp environment frees teens from exposure to health risks like alcohol and drug use. Risk aversion can give rise to undesirable behavior later in life (Read our blog: ‘Perhaps the Safest Place to Make Mistakes…And Learn From Them‘).

Though the long-term consequences of risk avoidance are still not fully understood, it does seem that the ability for children to make their own decisions in free play encompasses the ability to take risks, to experiment with cause and effect (consequence). Important in this is the freedom to make mistakes and learn from them, to learn how to negotiate fear and adversity. There are lots of ways that this can be achieved, but getting kids outdoors and leaving them to their own devices is integral to the summer camp program. And the forgiving, nurturing environments created by close-knit ‘uni-cultures’ at camp are, perhaps the safest places to make mistakes…and learn from them.

Then there are the benefits of a solid, positive camp program that challenges teenagers to go outside their comfort zones, under an umbrella of support, guidance, and safety. Camp programming that challenges teens or offers ways to take true responsibility, such as in a counselor-in- training (CIT) or leader-in-training (LIT) program, are tremendous antidotes to what has been called ‘the frivolous, media-controlled world of teen culture’ (Epstein, 2014). And camp programs that give teens an opportunity to give back by performing a service for others can be equally as powerful.

Adolescence now lasts longer than ever, and the adolescent brain is surprisingly malleable. These new discoveries make this time of life crucial in determining a person’s ultimate success and happiness.

Laurence Steinberg, PhD

A strong, positive camp culture is the true ‘medicine’ for the adolescent brain: meaningful, authentic connection with caring adults; an opportunity to take healthy risks and master new skills ; and the chance to develop one’s emerging sense of self.

why-every-child-should-go-to-summer-camp-1References:

*Age of Opportunity: Lessons from the New Science of Adolescence (Laurence Steinberg)

Sunshine Parenting, January 23, 2015

The Power of the Camp Experience

We are convinced that kids need camp. Today, like never before, teens and pre-teens are under tremendous pressure. Self-doubt, peer pressure, and a host of other harmful influences nag at kids every day.  Even kids who enjoy a strong support structure face hurdles. Camp provides opportunities for children and young adults to pull away and catch their breath – catch a vision for the bigger picture of their lives and cultivate critical skills. Friends and adult role models who exert positive peer pressure can make all the difference in a child’s life. Such friendships forged through shared experience and the compressed time at camp, can last a lifetime and provide a connection that helps young people navigate the challenges of life.

According to researchers, kids spend on average 3.5 minutes in meaningful conversation with their parents each week. At camp, caring adults, counselors and mentors come alongside campers, helping them think through decisions and experiences in a way that will prepare them for their future, a future that is often reimagined because of the challenges and successes the camp experience brings. Many campers point back to their experiences at camp, or a positive role model they met at camp as one who helped shape the direction of their lives.

Campers explore nature, participate in new adventures and test their limits by problem solving, engaging in teamwork, citizenship and independent activity in a safe and healthy environment surrounded by caring and supporting adult role models. This combination of elements and opportunities has a changing influence upon the kids we serve – it is the power of the camp experience.

the-power-of-camp

 

References:

http://kff.org/other/poll-finding/report-generation-m2-media-in-the-lives

http://www.ccca.org

http://www.csun.edu/science/health/docs/tv&health.html

Summer 2016: A Journey Unimagined

Summer 2016 was a time of opportunity, challenge and growth for 96 young people who set out on journeys that would take them to Arizona, Colorado, Minnesota and Maine. Journeys previously unimagined. But those individual journeys would not be bound by location or distance, instead they would be defined by achievement and ambition.

On these journeys the campers encountered nature, exploration, responsibility, citizenship, teamwork, friendship, independence and problem solving. They have the mental room to consider some of the most important issues of life. This break from the craziness of their regular routine allowed these campers to think about their future, to evaluate unhealthy patterns and engage in meaningful relationships, all of which shaped their next steps.

Because of you, 96 campers became better people. They will grow into contributing adults. They will impact and influence others in a more positive way. They will be better community members and better leaders. Because of you, the world will be different.

You made the difference to each of these young people this summer.