Why do we call someone a “happy camper” when they are thoroughly enjoying something, experiencing a great time in their life, or feeling satisfied in the moment? Why don’t we say “s/he’s a happy student“?
In this series, I break down what it is about the “camp experience” that makes us happy, and how we can help our children find the same happiness throughout the school year as they can feel in summer camp. The first installment in the series discusses how activity and movement is such a fundamental part of the camp day, and how incorporating physical activity into every child’s day throughout the school year and providing plenty of opportunities for them move their bodies is critical for their happiness and success.
Here’s another tip to help your child become a “happy camper” during the school year:
Reason #2: Camp is socialization and building relationships.
Socializing and learning to get along with peers is the business of camp. Socialization and group experiences are necessarily built into camp programs and camp counselors and directors are trained to be attuned to how children interact with one another. Studies have found that children who learn how to share, cooperate and be helpful as early as preschool or Kindergarten will be the more likely to earn a college degree and get a job in their 20’s than those who have not mastered these social skills in childhood.
Practical Wisdom: Encourage friendships and provide opportunities for your child to socialize.
Because socializing is tangential to classroom learning at school, and there is little room for socializing at most schools, even at lunchtime, we have to build in time for our children to socialize with their peers. Whether after school or on weekends, getting together with friends to socialize creates and strengthens friendships and cultivates those relationships in an ongoing manner.
We know that play is crucial for healthy development. We also know that learning how to get along with others (socializing) is critical for their later success as working adults. If they’ve made good friends at camp, and it’s possible to arrange for them to get together throughout the school year, that will help bridge the gap between the happy camper days of summer and the school year. (One of my best friends to this day is a day camp friend from when we were 6 years old!)
If you can’t see summer friends throughout the year, make sure to build in opportunities for your children to play with school friends and neighborhood kids in order to cultivate relationships and continue to build social skills. And be mindful about incorporating opportunities for physical activity and movement into their playtime whenever possible.
Yours in parenting,