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The Benefits of Sleepaway Camp During the Pandemic

The Benefits of Sleepaway Camp During the Pandemic

Tuesday, February 22 | by Sheryl, Camp Director
Category: Why Camp?

The pandemic has curtailed many of the interpersonal activities: in-person school, going to movie theaters, large events, holiday gatherings, and more. This has been especially difficult for children and young people, whose budding social lives have largely been moved online in sometimes unhealthy ways. However, one thing children and teens can still enjoy safely is sleepaway summer camp programs. Here’s why going to camp is so important for their mental health and development.

Camping Programs Can Offer Protection Against COVID-19 Infection

About half of all camping programs in the US require staff and children to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Others allow medical and non-medical exemptions, so it’s important to check requirements before enrolling your child in a camping program.

Children spend more time outdoors at camp, which (in addition to providing healthy fresh air) minimizes the risk of breathing in airborne pathogens.

The Mental and Physical Health Benefits of Camp During the Pandemic

The benefits of summer camp and other sleepaway camp programs are many during the best of times, but are especially valuable during times of crisis. Here are just a few reasons to enroll your child in one:

  • They help reduce anxiety and stress. Anxiety levels in teens have risen significantly in recent years while emotional maturity is decreasing. Children and teens are spending more time in front of screens and on social media, which can be overwhelming and alienating. Camps provide relaxing, immersive experiences in nature that promote a calm, positive, and focused mindset.
  • They provide safe ways to socialize. In-person interactions are a necessary part of children and teens’ social development. Verbal and nonverbal communications are more transparent and authentic in person, which allows kids to trust their instincts. On social media, words and images can be curated and artificial, and can lead to doubt and mistrust.
  • Physical activities and motor skills build confidence and fitness. Going to camp allows kids low-risk opportunities to learn, play, and grow together. Physical activities that help develop new skills, like swimming, hiking, or climbing, contribute to their sense of confidence. These pastimes also increase physical fitness, which in turn helps youth to develop a positive self-image.
  • They help build life, leadership, and job skills. Camps encourage kids to problem-solve, work together, be creative, help others, teach, lead, delegate, and generally learn more about human nature. All of these soft skills lend themselves to success in relationships, school, and work.
  • They allow children and teens to try new things and learn about themselves. A big part of growing up involves kids’ ability to learn what kinds of people and activities they like, which to avoid, and who they are. Camp allows them to try new activities and conversations in a low-risk way, which encourages self-discovery and shows the value of stepping outside their comfort zone from time to time.
  • They provide positive role models and promote ethical development. Camp counselors and staff members embody a variety of personal strengths and values that children and teens will notice and want to emulate. Activities geared toward teamwork, helping others, and respecting nature all help to develop kids’ awareness of ethics. In making friends and building positive relationships, many of them will come to admire and emulate each other as well.
  • They expose campers to children and adults with different worldviews. Interacting with kids and camp staff of various cultural, religious, and socioeconomic backgrounds increases campers’ awareness of differing worldviews. Exposure to diversity is not only educational, but encourages empathy, inclusivity, and fairness.

If your child is struggling with distance learning or pandemic-related isolation, needs more physical activity, or wants to learn new skills, they will benefit significantly from participating in a high-quality camping program near you. 

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.

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

When you make a charitable gift to Surprise Lake Camp, you give children life-changing experiences. You partner with us to provide campers confidence, growth, friendships, and Jewish identity. Donate today!