I spent the first 12 years of my life in a sleepy, rural town in the northeast corner of Connecticut. With both of my parents working full-time, my summer mornings began near dawn as I filled up my backpack and headed to the bus stop a few houses down the road. I would wait patiently with a sense of giddiness at what the day’s activities at camp would bring. Holiday Hill Day Camp was my escape, my pure fun without requirements or judgments, and the freedom to choose whether I played Four Square after lunch or made gimp bracelets in arts and crafts.
1. Encourages digital detox: Today’s girls are online more than ever, and camp releases them from the seeming obligation of being constantly connected, allowing them to breathe — literally and figuratively.
2. Promotes healthy risk-taking: The culture of perfectionism creates an underlying sense of fear around appearing less than ideal in any way, and a great camp experience allows girls to try new things in a safe, inclusive, positive environment.
3. Fosters resiliency: Everyone can experience disappointments from time to time, and it’s the bounce back that can matter most. Camp is full of different experiences with a variety of outcomes, and girls can grow from learning how to move past the disappointments to find everyday grace.
4. Builds community clusters: A positive, pro-social camp experience develops a sense of community for every girl and helps her feel as though she belongs. This sense of belonging comes at a crucial time developmentally, and can make all the difference when a girl experiences stress at home or school.
5. Support wellness: A rewarding camp experience encourages girls to be kind to themselves and to others — all while being silly, crazy and fun! The kindness and compassion fostered in the warm summer days can easily have an impact all year round.
Ana Homayoun is a teen and millennial expert who draws on her camp experiences, among others, to help individuals, schools and corporations with organization, personal productivity and overall wellness. She can be reached through her website at anahomayoun.com.
Reprinted by permission of the American Camp Association. ©2018, American Camping Association, Inc. The American Camp Association® ACA is a national organization with more than 11,000 individual members and nearly 3,000 member camps. ACA is committed to collaborating with those who believe in quality camp and outdoor experiences for children, youth and adults. For more information, visit ACAcamps.org.