For many of us, this conjures memories of tents, boating, swimming and crafts. In reflection these may seem just pleasant memories, but when you look closely, the summer camp experience has much more to offer. For many, summer camp has served as a rite of passage helping children make the transition to adulthood. Summer camp offers opportunities for mental, physical and social growth.
Sussex County hosts New Jersey’s 4-H Camp, L.G. Cook, located in Stokes State Forest. The camp offers a traditional program where campers can choose from a variety of activities such as swimming, hiking, boating, and crafts. These activities are designed to meet the needs, interests and abilities of the campers. These types of traditional camp offerings give campers more chances to explore recreational interests than camp programs that focus on specific skills, such as computers or performing arts.
Once started, the pursuit of these sorts of activities may extend beyond camp and become life-long interests. Research has shown that recreation contributes to people’s satisfaction with their lives as well as contributing to their overall health and well being. So interests developed at camp can have a lasting positive impact on campers’ lives.
Going to summer camp gives children a chance to socialize in a unique residential setting. More often than not, campers find themselves playing, eating and living with people they haven’t met before. This requires them to develop new skills for getting along, if only because they’re living together under the same roof. Inevitably campers will have different ideas on things such as cleanliness and manners. Living in camp requires kids to work out these differences. The experience teaches campers to become more tolerant of one another and to accept differences. It also requires them to learn to adjust to new environments, an experience that is bound to be useful later in life.
Campers are not entirely on their own in the camp experience, there are counselors too. Counselors can help foster relationships among campers and encourage them to explore a variety of interests. They also model appropriate behavior and encourage campers to exercise independent decision-making. Because they’re closer in age to the campers, counselors are often in a better position to help the children make sense of the many choices and challenges they face as they grow into adulthood.
The communal setting of camps offers an invaluable opportunity to observe and recognize children’s unique strengths and accomplishments. Through ceremonies and traditions, camps affirm growth by acknowledging camper’s achievements. This experience demonstrates that adult and young adult staff, as well as fellow campers, value these achievements. This recognition of individual skills and accomplishments supports each camper’s self-esteem.
The summer camp experience has much to offer youth. There are plenty of opportunities to develop self-esteem and independence, develop friendship skills and establish peer relationships. Youth may also develop positive values as they practice decision-making. Summer camp offers the fun, relaxation, challenge, and companionship that spell the difference between just another summer and a long-remembered adventure.For more information on how you can register for summer camp at the L.G. Cook camp in Stokes State Forest, please call (973) 948-3550 or email.
(You don’t have to be in 4-H to enroll.)