I am what you’d call a camp evangelist, especially after seeing all the ways summer camp has helped my kids grow. And I’ve had a long time to be able to see that growth — our youngest is about to finish her ninth (!) year at the same camp, while her stepsister is now a second-year counselor there. To them, camp is truly their summer “home,” their friends there are some of their best, and every summer has meant so much to them.
That’s why I’m so happy to provide some information about the growth I’ve observed in my own kids, on behalf of our sponsor, Camp Tuku. It’s a phenomenal (and phenomenally gorgeous!) co-ed overnight camp for kids 6-14 in two locations, including the beautiful Catskill Mountains. That means it blends all those great traditional summer camp activities and adventures with time for mindfulness practices to help us raise more resilient kids.
And you know how much we talk about the importance of resilience around here!
With that, let me share 5 ways I’ve seen summer camp help my kids grow.
1. Summer camp fosters independence that helps build confidence
This goes without saying right? But summer camp is not just about being on their own (well, with a lot of responsible counselors around), it’s about allowing kids to learn what they can do on their own.
Everything from learning to climb up to the top bunk to managing a ropes challenge course, to organizing their clothes for laundry day. They even get to learn essential life skills like learning how to speak up and ask for help when they need it — to someone besides a parent.
That independence in turn teaches kids that they can do a lot more than they — or you — ever thought they were capable of. Yes, including making their beds. Ask me how I know.
2. Summer camp builds problem-solving and conflict resolution skills
Whether or not your child has siblings, or shares a room, nothing compares to sharing a bunk with a dozen other kids their age! You learn how to get along, how to compromise, how to take turns, how to collaborate, and how to share, all in ways that are totally different from what they learn at home.
Is it really worth fighting with a bunkmate over who sits up front in the canoe? Your kid will likely come to realize that no, it really doesn’t matter. What matters is that they laugh their heads off together the whole time.
3. Summer camp teaches kids to respect differences in others — and find all the wonderful similarities
As you certainly know, exposure to different kinds of people throughout our lives helps all of us grow to be more empathetic, compassionate humans as a whole. And it’s so great to have opportunities like camp to help expose our kids to more kinds of kids — especially if their neighborhood or friend group back home is fairly homogenous.
It’s not to say that they don’t learn to respect differences at home, it’s just that summer camps really give kids a chance to practice it. There are so many ways kids grow when they’re living with tons of kids from different cities and states, from different backgrounds, different races, different ages, who may have different habits, likes and dislikes — even different foods they like.
One of my kids came home eating “sauce pasta” from camp, after years of only wanting to eat it with butter. Bless you, fellow bunkmates with different tastes!
About our sponsor
If you have a child age 6-14, Camp Tuku is where “nature meets joyful minds.” This exceptionally beautiful sleep away camp rests in 1,000 acres of pristine wildnerness in the Catskill Mountains of New York, surrounded by stunning lakes, breathtaking waterfalls, and miles of hiking trails.
Camp Tuku’s activities are designed to engage the whole child — mind, body and heart. That means their weeklong session will be packed with aquatics and boating, archery, hiking, crafts, drama, team building, innovations and STEAM activities and more — while a focus on mindfulness also incorporates mindfulness practices to help kids develop resilience, empathy, focus, gratitude, confidence, and resourcefulness.
At the end of the day, they get to settle down in beautifully modern bunks, with children their age from all over the country, some of whom may turn out to be friends for life.
And at the end of the week, you’ll get the biggest, happiest hug ever and non-stop stories the entire way home.
Learn more about Camp Tuku in Hugenot, New York through this link. And sign them up for a one-week session today!
Receive a $50.00 discount on your child’s registration for Camp Tuku NY or AZ. Expires March,31 2023. Use code: cmp23uutk
4. Summer camp opens kids up to totally new interests
Don’t be surprised if your bookwork comes home from summer camp asking to go canoeing or take an art class. Or if your superhero movie-loving teen suddenly finds the joy in beach read novels. Camps let kids explore so many things they may not have tried before, or even wanted to.
Hey, a little positive peer pressure can go a long way in getting your shy kid to dress up for a crazy camp event, or help your rowdy kiddo enjoy the quiet of hiking past a gorgeous waterfall and just listening for birds — especially if you’re in an environment like the Catskills, where Camp Tuku is.
5. Summer camp teach kids that yes, they can live without screens!
I say this with literally no judgment — but our kids rely on screens. As do we all. A few weeks at summer camp really teach kids that there’s so much joy in being unplugged. Especially for our older kids, that time free from devices weans them off that impulse to check texts and notifications all day long.
Less time with devices in hand also gives kids that time to read, to journal, to just….hang out, without distraction. To read, to journal, to play, to craft, to listen to music with their friends. (Plus, you can imagine the mental freedom your kids will have when not every single moment of every day might be photographed or filmed.)
And hey, maybe that device-free time will even turn into an enjoyable new habit you can reinforce at home in September — without them balking too much. One can hope!
Thank you so much to Camp Tuku for sponsoring this post. I’m such a big fan of all the joys kids get from time away at overnight camps, and we’re happy to support terrific camps right back.
All images © Camp Tuku