What your child will learn at summer camp
When your child comes home from Camp Walt Whitman, we can’t guarantee that all of the positive things they’ve learned will stick – like their ability to keep their room neat for more than a day! But there are important lessons kids learn at summer camp that will spur them to become the best version of themselves.
Looking at the things our own campers say about what they learn at Walt Whitman gives you an idea of what to expect. Most campers say they become more confident and open to trying new things or become close to friends and counselors in ways they would never be able to back home.
All of these feelings relate to the seven developmental needs of young people, a framework that the American Camp Association uses to explain the benefits of camp.
These cornerstones first appeared in a 1991 report by Peter C. Scales, Ph.D., a psychologist and expert on child and adolescent development. He would go on to contribute his research to a group called the Search Institute, an authority on the “Developmental Assets” kids need to thrive.
When we read their key ingredients to a young person’s healthy growth, it feels like a page has been ripped out of our own brochure. These are their words, in italics – and below are the ones we use to describe the same exact things that campers learn at Camp Walt Whitman.
Support: Young people need to be surrounded by people who love, care for, appreciate, and accept them.
From our group activities to creating cabin groups that act as a camper’s summer family, we do everything possible to make it easy for campers to form lasting friendships with their peers and strong relationships with adults other than their parents. These bonds create the support and trust that campers need to thrive at camp.
Empowerment: Young people need to feel valued and valuable. This happens when youth feel safe and respected.
We create a community of inclusion at Camp Walt Whitman, and teach campers to respect everyone’s individual abilities, regardless of their skill level, gender, or background.
Boundaries and Expectations: Young people need clear rules, consistent consequences for breaking rules, and encouragement to do their best.
The importance of trying new things is something we begin to teach even before your camper arrives. This is our expectation, and we provide plenty of encouragement to make sure campers strive to be their best selves.
Constructive Use of Time: Young people need opportunities—outside of school—to learn and develop new skills and interests with other youth and adults.
We don’t know of a better place, outside of school, for kids to discover a new passion or improve their skills than summer camp.
Commitment to Learning: Young people need a sense of the lasting importance of learning and a belief in their own abilities.
Camp Walt Whitman hires the most qualified, specialized instructors for each of our 60+ activities. Their expertise and enthusiasm provide the safe environment, support and encouragement that will help campers learn new skills and gain confidence in their abilities.
Social Competencies: Young people need the skills to interact effectively with others, to make difficult decisions, and to cope with new situations.
Check, check, check. Being away from home for the summer, in a different environment with new friends, fosters independence and the ability to navigate new social settings when they return home.
Positive Identity: Young people need to believe in their own self-worth and to feel that they have control over the things that happen to them.
Giving campers the tools and support to push themselves – whether on the ropes course or in a new social group – fosters the strong sense of self and confidence you’ll see in your camper after a summer at Camp Walt Whitman.
The child development experts did leave out one important lesson your child will learn at camp: how to have the most fun, ever. Between the campfires, pool parties and shaving cream fights, it’s easy to forget all of the other important lessons we’re imparting every day.