We believe at ACA, that a summer camp experience can benefit children in the long term and develop an array of new and existing skills. Our summer camp veteran, Arran Ponton passes on his experience of the camp lifestyle and why it is so worthwhile.
Summer Camp. A phrase more commonly associated with the USA. There are over 12,000 different camps across the United States with more than 11 million children and adults taking part each year. These staggering numbers are however, not surprising, taking into account the prevalence of camp life, the climate suitability in the “Land of Opportunity” and the vast population.
Scotland, however, is less likely to produce such numbers due to a substantial difference in population and summer camp reputation. That, along with the fact our summer can last anywhere from 7 minutes to 7 weeks. Despite the unpredictability of the climate, one thing that can be guaranteed in old Caledonia, is an array of endless beauty. Unrivalled scenery spanning from the country’s capital, Edinburgh to the heart of the Highlands and Islands and everything in between.
Personally speaking, summer camp is one of the most rewarding adventures of all. Here is why a summer experience is exactly what your child needs:
My summer camp credentials stretch as far as Kamp Kohut, Maine, USA. A place hugely populated by pine trees and moose but a real winner in terms of location. Two years spent as a radio counsellor on “WKKG, Kohut’s only radio station”, teaching and mentoring campers in and outside of the classroom – or the recording studio in my case – taught me so much about what young adults are able to achieve. The independence they gain when away from home is invaluable and it is quite remarkable to see them taking on important responsibilities at such a young age. I have seen kids aged 12 and 13 rise up to become leaders, organise large groups of peers, often older than them and produce all sorts of creative work, I hadn’t anticipated to see from them.
For some teens, it can be easy to socialise with others and perform any task fearlessly but for others, it’s a huge challenge that requires perseverance. The camp atmosphere surrounds kids with like-minded people, allowing them to relax from the modern day pressures of school and social groups. It gives them the opportunity to exercise both physically and mentally in a nurturing setting, at their own level, leading them to achieve heights they didn’t believe they were capable of reaching. An element many rigid school curriculums can’t offer.
This success, either socially, physically or academically is something I have seen instil confidence in individuals.
Having an amplified sense of freedom to make their own decisions, whilst learning new life skills along the way, benefits teens greatly in terms of future development. Adults who attended residential camps as a child will be able to understand the profound effect it can have on their early life.
A sincerity in a camp environment is ever present, whether it be in communication with instructors or fellow campers. The importance of learning to communicate in the right way, built around understanding and cooperation is as valuable as anything else learned.
Exploration of what Scotland’s beautifully diverse locations offer up, can perhaps be overlooked in preference to the draw of overseas. Reconnecting with a natural environment seeped in history, away from the hustle, bustle and clutter of city living allows kids to momentarily switch off, getting an undistracted, unobscured version of the experience.
Arguably the best reason for kids to attend summer camp is the connection they make with fellow students and how their friendships are built to last, around memories and shared interests. The growing bonds between campers, that I have witnessed from my time in America possess no restriction to camp as they continue long into the winter months and throughout the year.
It can be difficult to translate a summer camp experience from one person to another, in the hope that they will understand. One thing that is easy to explain, is what I have seen a summer camp experience does for kids, and it’s like no other. Watching campers devastated to leave, counting down the days until they return, is evidence of a lifetime memory.
Every child deserves the chance to go on that adventure. And that, is exactly why a summer camp experience, is what your child needs.