6 Ways that Summer Camp Will Impact a Child’s Development

Everyone knows that summer camp is fun, but what many people don’t consider is that sleepaway camp provides children with the opportunity to gain so much more than just a great summer outdoors! Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, parents have wrestled with the question of traditional socialization in school. In 2020 and 2021, as schools shut their doors and children spent more time online, the necessary human desire to interact and connect with others was tested. The following are are important way that a traditional summer camp experience, like Camp Wekeela in Hartford, Maine, can provide for your child’s development.

1. Kids build upon life lessons

Feel confident that you have taught your child well and everything you instilled in them will stay intact while at summer camp like Camp Wekeela. Separation from you will give your child confidence and the ability to problem solve without your help. Developmental tools like good manners, kindness, inclusion, etc. are all valued at a communal place like camp.

2. They gain skills to become successful adults.

The Partnership for 21st Century Learning, a group of businesses, education leaders, and policymakers including the U.S. Department of Education, AOL/Time Warner Foundation, Apple Computer, Inc., Cisco Systems, Inc., and others, found there is a large gap between the knowledge students learn in school and the skills they need to be successful in the 21st century.

They performed extensive research on the skills needed to become successful adults in life and work and many of the essential skills needed for success – including oral communication, collaboration, work ethic, creativity, leadership, social skills, problem solving, and critical thinking – are all fostered & enhanced at camp.


3. School doesn’t educate the whole child.

The traditional classroom doesn’t address the whole child, as there is more to learning than just testing well and achieving good grades. Summer camp, and Camp Wekeela in particular, is one of the most powerful learning environments.  It can be where a child’s social education takes place.

Camp provides children with the opportunity to try new activities, and when they succeed at these new endeavors, they build self-esteem. They also build social skills and problem-solving skills by being part of a supportive community and taking part in activities together. They are challenged at camp every day – whether playing soccer, honing their tennis serve, improving their swim strokes, or trying out for the play. At Wekeela, we believe in the power of Challenge by Choice. This means a camper is not forced to try something new but they are empowered to make that choice themselves. This can be a big step for a child as young as 8 or a 16 year old teenager. Taking that first step to go out of your comfort zone can go a long way for setting a child/teen up for success.

4. Camp Wekeela allows them to unplug from technology.

Today’s children spend an average of more than 7.5 hours a day engaged in media. This prevents them from taking part in hands-on activities and socializing with other children. Yes some of this time spent online may be in group chats, video calls, or video game streams with others, but it does not equate to the quality time spent with family and friends. Most summer camps do not allow technology, including television, smartphones, iPads, and computers. Parents and staff welcome this new experience as it can give our minds a break from the noise. Taking a break from technology over the summer allows children to focus on learning new skills, making real friends, going out of their comfort zone, and communicating face-to-face instead of through a screen.

5. Kids need to play for social and emotional development.

Today’s children are very busy with homework and after-school activities without much time for unstructured play. The American Academy of Pediatrics reports that free and unstructured play is healthy and essential for helping children reach important social, emotional, and cognitive developmental milestones, as well as helping them manage stress. Traditional summer camps give children plenty of opportunities to play, run around, laugh, and have health competition with others. This is massive for healthy emotional and social development.

6. At Camp Wekeela, children can reinvent themselves.

At home, children go to school with the same kids for years and may be labeled. They may be known forever as “shy” “annoying” “loud” “nerd” etc. This label can be hard to shake. At day or sleep-away camp, children are surrounded by new people and can reinvent themselves. They can become whoever they want to be, shedding unneedy and unnecessary labels that anchor them down at home. At Wekeela, we are proud to be an accepting community where a child can be themselves and be free from judgement.