Is your child or teen counting down the days until summer camp? Most kids do, and many camp websites even have moving counters that tick down the days, minutes and seconds to next summer’s start date for camp. How many kids count down the days until school starts? I don’t know about you, but I never knew any.
So, how can we help our children become “happy campers” throughout the school year? I’m not saying that if you follow my “practical wisdom” your child will begin eagerly anticipating the start of the new school year (there is homework, after all) but there are ways to help your child become happier throughout the school year by incorporating some of the things that are part of the camp experience that tend to produce “happy campers.”
In the first four articles of this “Happy Camper” series, I talk about the “essential happiness ingredients” of camp: the physical activity and movement that is so fundamental to the camp day; how socializing with friends is prioritized; how camp means spending time outside and in nature; and how the structured freedom that camp allows helps kids feel secure and happy because they can be themselves.
Last, but certainly not least, is perhaps the most important “secret ingredient” for happiness that all parents should help their children incorporate into their daily experience throughout the school year:
Reason #5: Camp is about having fun!
The main goal of camp is for children to have fun and the atmosphere is generally positive and upbeat. If you’ve ever gone to camp you will remember well all of the activities that promote camp spirit — the cheers, the songs, the silliness, the laughter. If it’s not fun, it doesn’t belong at camp.
Play and have fun!
Our children are so tightly scheduled these days that we sometimes forget to build in time to just play. Playing goes a long way for children of all ages, and is necessary for healthy development. Play not only fosters a child’s imagination, helps our brains grow, but it also as well as nourishing their soul. Play = joy (for children as well as for us).
This may seem intuitive, but there is a lot of research on how important play is in our children’s lives and in ours. Here are two books I recommend if you’d like to read more:
So, sing at home with your children, make chores a game, and find every opportunity to incorporate play into your daily routines. They’ll have more fun, and your day will feel lighter and brighter too.
Throughout the school year do what you can to keep the “happy camper” attitude alive, by incorporating all of the good stuff that camp offers kids: physical activity and movement, time to socialize and make friends, getting outside and appreciating nature, and the structured freedom for your children to explore the world and be themselves. It’s possible that we all may turn out to be “happier campers.”
Yours in parenting,