summer_camp_psychosocial_developmentWe all know that camps can be a great place for children to get plenty of fresh air and exercise, but they can accomplish so much more than that. “Summer camps,” Psychology Today announced in a 2012 article, “are perfect places to help children optimize their psychosocial development.” Talk about a ringing endorsement for quality summer camps!

Psychosocial development is defined as the development of the personality, including the acquisition of social attitudes and skills, from infancy through maturity. And summer camps, according to Psychology Today, provide the environment needed for children to “bolster their range of coping strategies” as they learn skills, discover how to get along with a new group of peers and take manageable amounts of risks without a parent present. The writer then shares seven ways in which summer camp can be an outstanding psychosocial experience for your child.

Ways that summer camp helps psychosocial development

Here are a couple of them from the article. “Camps make sure that all children are treated fairly . . . They may be the geek or the child with dyslexia. At camp they will both find opportunities to just be the kids who are valued for who they are.”

If you are evaluating summer camps for your child in 2015 and you have an opportunity to talk to the people running the camp and/or parents whose children have previously attended a particular camp, be sure to ask them about fairness. How are children treated fairly? Note that “fair” does not always mean “equal.” For example, if one child is very talkative and social, the camp director will probably challenge his or her growth in a different way from a child who is shy and needs encouragement to participate in activities. So, don’t confuse “fair” with “equal” when making your choice of summer camp.

Another benefit of camp, as noted by Psychology Today, is as follows: “Camps give kids both cultural roots and the chance to understand others who have cultures very different from their own.” When deciding which summer camp to choose, ask about how a particular camp helps children to interact with and make friends with people who are from different cultures. What, specifically, is done?

And, here is one more quote from Psychology Today: “Perhaps best of all, camps offer kids a chance to feel like they belong. All those goofy chants and team songs, the sense of common purpose and attachment to the identity that camps promote go a long way to offering children a sense of being rooted.”

As noted in, for young children to feel confident, happy and comfortable, they need to feel as though they are accepted, that they are a welcomed part of a group, that they belong. So, when talking to camp directors and teachers, and asking parents about their experiences with a camp, ask how children are helped to feel an important part of the camp. Again, ask for specific examples!

It’s hard to believe, but true: summer is just around the corner. We’d love to talk to you about your summer camp needs!

Horizon Summer Camp