7 Ways Summer Camp Prepares Your Tween for Life

Camp is so much more than just fun and games

Kids laughing by the lake at camp
Jill Chen/Stocksy United

Summer camp is the time of year when kids shed their school backpacks for swimsuits, duffel bags, and bug spray. Parents know that summer camp is a great way for children to learn to be away from home and maybe even learn a new skill or two.

But the benefits of attending a summer camp can be profound and last a lifetime. If you're thinking about sending your tween off to summer camp this year, you should know just how much the experience can matter to your child.

Here are seven wonderful ways summer camp changes your tween for the better:

Live Without Creature Comforts

Many tweens enjoy a pretty cushy lifestyle filled with cell phones, televisions, tablets, video games, and much more. But a few weeks at summer camp can teach your tween to live life without all of those creature comforts.

Lodging in a bunk house, eating cafeteria-style food, and going a week without technology will help your child see that many "must-have" possessions aren't really as necessary as one might think. If your child attends overnight camp, he or she will learn that shelter, food, clothes, and companionship are the real "must-haves" in life and that everything else is gravy.

Tell Who Your Friends Are

Friendships can be difficult during middle school years and your tween may sometimes have a hard time determining who his or her real friends are. But at summer camp, your child will learn who he or she can trust, who to stay away from, and who has his or her back.

Summer camp will give your child many opportunities to bond with other campers and create memories that can last a lifetime. At the same time, living with other campers will also show your tween that there are people in life that might not be a good influence and should possibly be avoided. 

Make Decisions on Your Own

You want your tween to learn to be independent, but when you're around your child is probably letting you make most of the decisions of the day.

But at summer camp, your tween is in charge of most of the decisions that have to be made. What to eat for breakfast? Which bunk should I choose? Should I wear bug spray or forget it?

And, as is the case in life, any decisions your child makes will also come with potential consequences. So, if your tween decides to forgo bug spray before the big campfire, he or she will have to live with the blowback. 

Take Responsibility

Learning to take responsibility for your own actions is a sure sign of maturity, and now that your child is older, it's important that he or she develop a sense of individual responsibility. If your tween attends a summer camp, particularly an overnight program, there will be no avoiding personal accountability.

If you're not there to provide or accept excuses, your tween will have no one else to blame if he or she sleeps through breakfast. Trained camp personnel know how to help campers develop personal responsibility and make the most of their decisions.

Deal With Disappointment

As a parent, it can be difficult to see your children upset or disappointed, but disappointment is a part of life.

While away at summer camp, your tween will likely face disappointment and will have to learn to deal with it.

Your tween may be faced with a number of disappointing truths — not being picked for the camp play, not winning the camp Olympics, or even something simpler like not getting getting the top bunk bed. Whatever the disappointment, your tween will learn to deal with it, get over it, and move on.

Enjoy the Simple Things

Many tweens lead pretty hectic lives. They go to school, spend a few hours involved in extracurricular activities, gobble down dinner, tackle homework, and then maybe spend a little downtime before bed. The next day they get up and do it all over again. The weekends can be even more hectic with games, school projects, and family commitments.

The downside to a busy life is not being able to relax and appreciate the small things in life. But summer camp can help your child learn how to relax, appreciate quiet and stillness, and connect with nature. Adventure camps and camps that embrace outdoor life will help your child learn how to appreciate a comfortable bed, a home-cooked meal, and even clean clothes. 

Learn That Boredom Is a Good Thing

Today's tweens are so busy that they rarely have the opportunity to experience boredom. But boredom can push a tween to develop a new passion, interest, or even work on critical thinking and analytical skills.

If your tween encounters boredom from time to time while away at camp, consider it a worthwhile way for your child to spend some of his or her summer vacation. 

Appreciate Your Everyday Life

Summer camp can make even the most spoiled tween learn to appreciate everyday life and the people in it. Your child may insist that they won't miss you or anyone while away at camp, but don't be surprised if they are very happy to see you when it's time to pick them up from camp.

The skills your child learned may also be put to use once he or she is home — helping out around the house and offering to pitch in to help cook dinner or even do laundry. 

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