In this blog, the third in a three-part series about the benefits of summer camp, we’ll look at the role of summer camp in cultivating resilience.
Resilience is what enables us to come out of difficult circumstances unbroken and with a positive sense of self and hopeful outlook for the future. It allows us to harness failure as feedback that can refine – not define – us. By cultivating insight and initiative, resilience empowers us to grow from adversity, cope with change and adapt to future challenges.
Children who grow up in low-income communities face more challenges than most. Resilience, for these children, is an imperative if they want to survive and thrive.
Dealing with manageable challenges is important for the development of resilience in children. Approachable challenges present children with a safe, controlled opportunity to experiment and learn. They allow children to make mistakes and fail without befalling serious harm.
When it comes to resilience, camp is an unmatched environment for its cultivation. What with its long list of novel activities, summer camp presents ample enticing challenges for campers to grow their grit. The best part? At camp, the challenges kids confront are FUN! They take the form of new games, activities, crafts and sports.
Trying New Things
It can be scary to try these new things. The risk of failure is real, and, in some camp situations, it is almost inevitable. After all, you’re not likely to be great at something the first time you try it. However, summer camp is an encouraging place for kids to get outside their comfort zone. Camp is filled with unique opportunities for children to discover new interests, unexpected talents and the power of practice.
That’s because, at summer camp, everyone’s a beginner. The very essence of camp is a series of experiences, activities, games and situations that you wouldn’t experience in your everyday life. It helps level the playing field among children and their peers. Who gets to canoe or do a high-ropes course in their daily lives? Everyone is going to struggle and make mistakes and so everyone gets to laugh and learn together. It’s a safe and supportive environment in which to fail and make mistakes and put in the practice that leads to improvement.
Camp counsellors are tireless in their encouragement to kids to try something new and to try it again. And again. And one more time until they’ve finally got it.
They’ve seen it all. They know that perseverance pays off. They know it’s gonna take a belly flop or two to nail that dive and they are there to make sure kids have a safe and fun time. Not only are they the ultimate cheerleaders, they’re also competent coaches. Counsellors and leaders teach kids how to improve. They’re happy to give a struggling camper tips and tricks for adjusting their form and mastering new skills.
… And Rewarding It
As kids try new things and see their abilities improve over just the short time they’re at camp, they learn that their abilities are not fixed. They see that skills, talents and abilities can be learned and improved through deliberate practice and hard work.
With every paddle stroke, every pull of the bow, every jump from the dock, children discover that they can learn, that they can improve. And so, they learn not to give up. Success rewards children with the self-satisfaction of their own capacities, not to mention cheers and admiration from their fellow campers.
As kids develop new skills they also develop self-confidence.
This comes as kids learn, improve and master new skills. These opportunities are especially important for kids who may not thrive academically, athletically or in other ways in their day-to-day school and social environments.
The novel activities of camp give these kids a chance to shine at something as unique as they are.
The child who is constantly picked last for kickball may discover that everyone wants him to teach them his fancy bracelet braiding techniques. Or the one who can’t find someone to sit with at lunch will be the kind of cannonball queen camp legends are made of. The child who can’t for the life of her remember how to spell Saskatchewan will tell ghost stories with such haunting finesse no one dares leave the safety of the campfire’s glow.
Whether or not these skills have practical application in the ‘real world’ is beside the point. The successes born of hard work and perseverance are empowering. They counteract feelings of discouragement, disappointment and hopelessness that kids may feel in other parts of their lives.
Sure, the market for professional archers is small, but the character traits of hopefulness and resilience, the behaviours of patience, practice, problem solving and hard work – those will serve children no matter where life takes them.
Camp is an emotionally and physically safe space for kids to experiment, fail, learn and, ultimately, succeed. It’s a place to build self-confidence, determination and resilience that will serve them throughout their lives, whatever job, passion, project or opportunity they pursue.
Once a child knows that there is something beyond their immediate reality and abilities and that they have the means within themselves to pursue it, they will have hope for their future that will allow them to pursue their big dreams, whatever they may be.
Share the Benefits of Summer Camp with a CityKidz Child!
For so many of our CityKidz, summer camp is more than a break from the hot and sticky routine of summer in the inner city. It’s more than learning to swim or eating a s’more. It’s more than a walk in the woods.
Summer camp gives children the chance to explore independence, develop social skills and build resiliency. It’s a place to discover new interests and abilities, practice leadership and friendship, face failure and find hope.
Click HERE to give a CityKidz child the chance to experience the fun, joy and benefits of summer camp!