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Summer Camp Builds Positive Character Traits in Kids

Summer Camp Builds Positive Character Traits in Kids

Tuesday, August 15, 2023
Category: Why Camp?

Ah, summer camp—the magical place where children embark on unforgettable adventures, make new friends, connect with nature, and create memories that last a lifetime. But summer camp also goes beyond all of these benefits: it offers experiences that instill essential values in children, shaping them into capable, kind, and appreciative individuals. Here’s how the joy-inspiring world of summer camp additionally fosters positive character traits like courage, compassion, gratitude, grit, and community-mindedness in young campers.


As the famous saying goes, “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” Summer camp is all about pushing boundaries and trying new things, whether it’s scaling a rock wall, singing in front of a crowd, or navigating through an obstacle course. The confidence that comes from conquering these challenges nurtures courage in children.

Summer camp provides a safe environment for campers to take risks without fear of judgment. Campers are encouraged to embrace their fears, confront them head-on, and emerge stronger and more self-assured. This courage isn’t just limited to physical activities; campers also learn to speak up, advocate for themselves, and stand up for what they believe in, fostering a resilient spirit that will serve them well throughout life. This ability also helps kids to develop leadership skills, which are immensely useful in nearly every aspect of their lives and careers.


Gratitude, empathy, and compassion are nurtured at summer camp in various ways. A big part of camp programming involves engaging children in team-building exercises and discussions that focus on understanding others’ perspectives and struggles. Sharing living spaces, working together, and celebrating achievements as a group help campers recognize the importance of kindness and empathy.

Summer camp is also a place where campers actively practice compassion by supporting their peers during challenging times. Whether it’s lending a listening ear, offering a shoulder to cry on, or cheering up a homesick friend, campers learn the value of being there for others, nurturing compassion and emotional intelligence.


In our fast-paced (and highly digitized) world, it’s easy for children to take things for granted. Yet attending overnight camp can help kids learn to be more grateful in a wide variety of ways:

  • Many summer camps, especially those with religious affiliations, prioritize teaching children about gratitude through various activities and exercises. Camp programming encourages children to find hidden positives in their experiences and lives, giving them a more balanced perspective.
  • Naturally, summer camp immerses kids in life’s simple joys and the beauty of nature. Campers find themselves feeling and expressing more thankfulness for the little things in their environment, such as a breathtaking sunset, laughter around a campfire, or a starry night sky.
  • Being away from the comfort of home also makes campers appreciate their families, friends, and countless everyday luxuries they may previously have overlooked. Missing these things a bit helps them to cherish them more when they return.
  • Campers will inevitably encounter minor challenges and mishaps during their stay, which is a normal part of growing up. However, these situations can also make kids grateful when they realize how much worse they could be—and for the support from staff and fellow campers that helps them to overcome small adversities. 


Grit, or the ability to persevere through challenges, may be among the most valuable traits that summer camp cultivates in children. Throughout their experience, campers are encouraged to set goals and work towards achieving them, even if the path gets bumpy.

Camp provides a supportive environment where failure is seen as an opportunity for growth. Whether it’s attempting a new skill multiple times, overcoming homesickness, or persevering through a difficult hike, campers develop the resilience to face obstacles head-on and not give up easily. This “grit mindset” helps campers build mental strength and fosters a can-do attitude that translates into various areas of their lives.


Summer camp is like a mini-society made up of campers and staff from diverse backgrounds, all of whom come together to form bonds in ways that may not be possible in other contexts. Campers learn to appreciate and respect each other’s unique qualities and understand the contributions to the greater group that each of them is capable of. 

In addition, camps emphasize teamwork and collaboration through group activities and challenges. As they participate in these, children quickly realize that they’re part of something larger than themselves and that it’s important to support, celebrate, and uplift one another in order to succeed. Learning to function as members of a team and a micro-society not only creates an inclusive atmosphere at camp, but also lays the foundation for campers to become community-minded in the larger world.

Build Your Child’s Character With Surprise Lake Camp

Surprise Lake Camp is a nonprofit organization that provides a home away from home for generations of young people. We believe in the value of community and friendship. Our Jewish values and identity shape our connection to nature. We’re dedicated to helping young people unplug, grow, and develop values, confidence, and skills to last a lifetime, adding to SLC’s storied history as the nation’s longest-running Jewish sleepaway camp. Learn more about the values we work to teach your child while also giving them a high-quality summer camp experience.

Take the next step: explore our first-time camper experiences and request more information. Then come for a tour and learn about the SLC difference!