Summer Camp Lets Kids Find Their Own Way

Being an involved parent is a good  thing. But sometimes stepping aside is the best gift you can give your child. Summer camp is the perfect time to do just that.

Summer camps provide kids with more than just social engagement and fun activities.

Camps also provide a safe environment where kids can roam and explore new interests.

It sounds counter-intuitive to parents to send their children away and not look back. But self-discovery can happen when the parent safety net is removed.

Michael Thompson is a clinical psychologist and best-selling author who wrote “Homesick and Happy: How Time Away From Parents Can Help a Child Grow.”

Thompson states that parents assume their presence always adds value to a child’s growth, but a temporary absence from parents has developmental benefits for children.

“As a parent there are many things you cannot do for you children,” Thompson writes.

“You cannot give your child confidence, you cannot pick or manage his or her friendships, you cannot always be his or her advocate/agent/manager/coach.

“Most parents cannot get their children to turn off electronics, especially in the summer, and most important, parents have a hard time urging their children to take psychological risks.”

At camp, kids belong to a community independent of their families.

Conflict resolution and problem solving occur without the intervention of Mom or Dad – and that’s a good thing.

Child development professionals agree that camp offers opportunities kids can’t find exclusively at school or home.

A camp experience helps kids mature socially, emotionally, intellectually and morally.

“The building blocks of self-esteem are belonging, learning and contributing,” says Michael Popkin, a family therapist and founder of Active Parenting, a parenting education program.

“Camps offer unique opportunities for children to succeed in these three vital areas and even beyond home and school,” he said.

Parents may worry about separation anxiety, but that anxiety often ends up being more prevalent on the parents end.

A child may experience nervousness in the beginning, but navigating new waters at summer camp allows kids to emerge more confident, independent and self-reliant.

According to the American Psychological Association, “When children go to summer camp, they experience some of the greatest maturation of their lives, and often return home stronger, healthier and more independent.”