I don’t have to convince you that summer camp is FUN! Campers’ days are filled with shaving cream fights, sports, arts, slip and slides and tribe competitions. Walking through camp you’ll notice the beauty of our waterfront, the history of our cabins and the breathtaking views of the Texas Hill Country. It’s obvious to anyone, your kids are going to have a blast while at Vista Camps. In fact, the rest of the year will seem mundane compared to the weeks they will spend here. But what are we really teaching your kids while at camp? It might shock you but they are learning much more than you intended.
“To me, most importantly, camp teaches acceptance. It’s my full belief that you could meet your worst enemy at camp and be best friends. At camp there is no judgment, and I’m able to spend a summer free of restrictions. Camp, especially Vista, creates such a wonderful and accepting environment (that starts with the wonderful staff) it becomes contagious. Differences are not put aside at camp, they are encouraged, and being able to grow up in an environment where diversity is celebrated and acceptance is the norm is something a lot of people in general do not get to experience in the full.”
~Analisa Ruiz (10 year camper)
There’s been a shift in the educational world. Our students are endlessly prepping for a series of tests that will supposedly shape their future. Kids are pushed into academic endeavors younger and younger. I was that mom that taught my 1 year old how to read. I thought she would get ahead start into academia. I just imagined all the competition my daughter would have when she’s older and I thought, this was what every parent MUST do. Well, statistics have found that young adults going into the work force have serious deficits in what are commonly referred to as 21st Century Skills. This topic is very popular in many areas of study including; education, psychology and neurology. This issue is global. Countries are desperately seeking ways to boost these skills prior to a young adult entering the work force. Here is a list I complied of what I think are the most important 21st Century Skills.
Initiative & Self-direction
Social Skills & Cross Cultural Skills
Leadership & Responsibility
Creativity & Innovation
Critical Thinking & Problem Solving
Communicating & Collaborating
Flexibility & Adaptability
Productivity & Accountability
Through my studies, I just so happen to be a Recreation Therapist (C.T.R.S.) I have already bought into the idea that Recreation is essential for growth and development at ANY age. Further, it is a wonder tool used in physical, mental, educational and emotional development at ANY age. Let me give you a simplified example.
Take for instance how you taught your child the ABCs. I’m guessing your experience was similar to ours. We sang the song, we wrote the letters, we colored pictures, we played games, we even came up with a catchy rap song (I’m from Detroit).
We hit all the different learning styles; auditory, visual and kinesthetic. Knowing full well that a meshing of styles would ensure the best possible outcome for our kids. Shockingly, as you grow up, a blending of these styles continues to be the very best way to learn. However, I don’t recall a time in college when my professor made up a rap or played games with us so that we could better retain the content material.
So how does all this information translate to camp? It’s the very thing we do! Every day our campers are picking up these 21st century skills during activities, cabin life and evening programming. They are learning from a staff that role model these skills. They are practicing leadership, responsibility, social skills, diversity, problem solving, creativity, communication, collaboration, etc. and they just so happen to be having FUN while doing it. Campers are having so much fun they don’t even know they are learning. Parents definitely notice the change though.
“My daughter wants to help around the house.”
“My daughter is more confident.”
“My son made so many new friends.”
“I was so impressed with how the kids worked together.”
“My daughter worked all year on her sing/yell song for camp.”
“I was so proud of my son for being elected Chief of his tribe!”
“My daughter has made friends from all over the world.”
The best times at camp are when kids surpass what we thought was possible of them by mastering these skills. Watching a shy boy sing in front of a large group. Witnessing a 16 year old lead a group of 50+ kids to victory. Watching two kids help each other through defeat. Seeing a young difficult camper become an amazing staff member. Camp gives these kids the opportunity to grow and learn these skills in an awesome environment so that they can become better young adults, better employees, and in the future.. better parents.
Still need more convincing? Here are some great articles on 21st century skills.