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Summer Camp, the Antidote to Modern Society

submitted by Andy Pritikin, Owner/Director of Liberty Lake Day Camp, Past President of American Camp Association NY/NJ, and host of the Day Camp Podcast

Parenting in 2020 is seriously difficult. Trust me, I know. It takes a level of discipline and commitment that our parents never had to deal with- mainly because of digital devices.

Then there’s Social Media – OMG! smh! Likes, friends, unfriends/unfollows, online bullying, predators, and pornography – all just clicks away if you aren’t paying attention… PAY ATTENTION!

What is the antidote? How can parents battle this ever-growing monster, especially during summer vacation when kids have even more free time to feed their screen addiction.

There is an answer, an oasis away from screens, where children talk to each other. A step back in time, before digital data began stressing us all out:  SUMMER CAMP!

TRADITIONAL Summer Camp: Outdoors with grass, trees, humidity, sunscreen, bugs, and dirt. Learning how to swim, and how to hold a baseball/softball bat, a paintbrush, and a guitar. Where kids muster the courage to talk to strangers, ask for help, climb a rock wall, leap onto a stage or off a zipline platform!

And what happens when it rains? I’ll tell you what doesn’t happen – kids don’t melt like the wicked witch of the west! They actually have a BLAST jumping in puddles, getting soaked, and playing – it’s what kids are supposed to do when they’re KIDS.

Humans are not born with great social skills. These are skills we learn and practice. Babies scream when upset, eventually learning how to express themselves to their parents and caregivers. Camp continues that process. Campers are put into challenging situations, requiring them to critically think through the best possible solutions – just like real (adult) life! Sometimes they will overcome obstacles and succeed, and sometimes they will simply fail – which is a super important life lesson, achieved more often without parental interference.

Parents spend or borrow huge sums of money for college to prepare their children for life. Comparatively speaking, an investment into Summer Camp is a bargain for the life skills it develops in a young person. Communication, collaboration, creativity, independence, making and keeping friends are “soft skills” that employers are seeking in the 21st century.

Consider giving your kids an old-school summer camp experience that they will learn from and cherish for the rest of their lives – it could end up being the wisest parental investment you ever make!