Summer Offers Kids a Break

   Awww … summer. That time of year when the air is filled with the smell of barbecue, life feels more carefree and it is OK to wear white.
For kids, it is a break from the regular routine of the school year and a chance to just play and be a kid. But for parents, it can be challenging to figure out how to help their kids (and their friends) fill their time with activities that do not require screens or controllers. It’s why summer camp is such an incredible experience for today’s youth. And in many ways, sending a child to summer camp is a great necessity now than ever before.
Now, to tell you the truth, I am a bit biased. After all, for seven years I was the Camp Gan Shalom Director (plus two years as a camp director for another organization). But I have also heard from numerous people who have shared their personal stories of how transformative their time at various summer camps was in their lives and it was irrelevant whether they attended a day camp or an overnight camp. The research also backs this up.
In fact, a recent study in Canada studied the effects of camp on kids. The results demonstrated “that for ‘bubble-wrapped’ youth who have been over-programmed and overprotected, camp provides a safe environment to freely learn, grow and develop their capabilities.” The study also found that summer camp fosters emotional intelligence (or EQ), self-confidence, independence, healthy living, environmental awareness, learning, leadership and other skills that prove beneficial long into adulthood … attributes that cannot be acquired on a screen.
The study also identified seven key benefits a child can gain by attending summer camp. They are building friendships and social skills, developing resiliency and confidence, becoming and staying physical, overcoming nature deficit disorder, learning the values of leadership, continuing education in the summer, and carving time for “active play.”
So this summer, please send your kids (or grandkids) to at least one week of summer camp and give them the gift to enjoy time outside, making and developing new friendships while they are exposed to new opportunities and experiences that can and will have a profound impact on the rest of their lives.
I think there is something for all of us to learn from this, especially as adults. While we adults are not able to “go to camp,” I do believe that we can and need to carve out some time for opportunities like it. And there is no better time to do it than during these summer months.
Whether it is taking a couple of days off of work to do something fun (whatever that is for you) or going away for a vacation, this break is needed by so many of us. Plus, when you are inevitably asked what you did during summer vacation, you will have something to share.

Jason Moss is executive director of the Jewish Federation of the Greater 
San Gabriel and Pomona Valleys.


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