Children spend the entire school year counting down the days until summer vacation. They look forward to two months of fun, outside of the classroom. Parents look for opportunities to fill those two months with experiences that are both engaging and beneficial for their children. Here are five tips for a positive and engaging summer, according to the experts on youth development from Frost Valley YMCA, the nation’s premier Y Camp.
To ensure that they are making the most of their summer break, many parents send their children to either overnight or day camp. Going to camp is often one of the first times children experience independence. “Campers at Frost Valley are given the opportunity to explore and develops confidence in themselves, all under the leadership of highly trained staff,” said Katia Martin, Director of Day Camp and Community Programs at Frost Valley. Giving your child a chance to find their independence can open their eyes to many new opportunities and activities that they can be involved in.
Throughout the school year, most children spend their time inside. Summer break is the perfect opportunity to take advantage of their natural surroundings. Campers at programs like Frost Valley’s spend a great deal of time in nature, participating in recreational activities, enjoying the waterfront and learning how to become stewards of the environment. Fresh air and being immersed in nature is not only important for your child’s heath, but it also creates a greater appreciation and understanding of the earth.
Kids also commonly spend their time sitting in front of the television or computer screen when they have time off from school. According to market research firm, Childwise, children ages five to 16 spend an average of six and a half hours a day in front of a screen, and that number is higher in the summer. “Physical activity is vital for your child, and camp ensures that children are active in a natural setting, through days of adventure and excitement participating in activities including hiking, climbing, and swimming,” Martin explained.
Many camps, but especially YMCA camps, also focus on building and maintaining healthy lifestyles, including healthy eating. Each day, campers are served a balanced meal and are guided to make nutritious choices about food that will fuel them for an active day. In addition, many camps are finding new and creative ways to bring healthy options to their campers and staff. Frost Valley, for example, offers extensive salad bars at lunch, while also promoting which fruits and vegetables have been sourced locally and why that is important. It is crucial when looking for a camp, that families inquire about the quality and healthfulness of the food served.
Summer camp offers children a magical world of play. Martin explained that at Frost Valley, staff “introduce campers to the ways creativity and imagination contribute to sports, education, and of course, play. Each camper has a say in making their own schedule and get to choose their specialty for each session.” Play is essential to development because it contributes to the cognitive, physical, social, and emotional well-being of children and youth. In the summer months, camp is the perfect place to ensure that your child is engaged in that vital world of play.