Sure, campers at Science Camp are going to learn a lot about science and of course they are going to have fun. But what else can be expected from the summer camp experience?
- Inviting exploration and play
- Providing physical and emotional support
- Focusing on collaboration and teamwork
- Trying new things
- Teaching and valuing self-reliance and resourcefulness
- Encouraging manageable risk
- Facilitating relationships
In a nutshell, camp is an environment where young adults can really grow. At the American Camp Association (ACA) Annual National Conference earlier this month, it was great to learn more of the ways that camp leaders can facilitate the experiences that contribute to this.
It is good to see that across the United States more and more school systems are starting to realize that schools, too, need to provide such an environment. An emphasis on test results is not the answer and is actually toxic to an environment that is trying to develop the character traits outlined above.
Professional educators are starting to understand that camp has been such an environment for over 150 years, and that camps, and camp leaders, have a lot to bring to the table. And camps and camp leaders are starting to realize that they have a lot to offer. Unfortunately, camps have not been good at collecting and sharing data, and educational folks generally love lots and lots of data. That is starting to change, thanks to efforts by the ACA, and a growing realization among camp leaders how important it is to have that data.
I believe that when camps start to provide data for studies that educators can read and respect, lights are going to go on. Educators will see the tools they need to help provide the right environment, and camps will see how important their work is to youth development and how important it is to expand the reach of camp.
Throw in some nature and you’ve got a winning recipe.