By Eileen M. Higgins
After more than a year of remote learning, social isolation,
canceled activities, and school events, summer camp in the great
outdoors has never been more important for our children.
Summer camp gives children so much of what’s been missing since the pandemic began – space to explore nature, time to connect in person with other kids and positive role models, and the opportunity to embrace outdoor adventures like swimming, hiking, climbing, and boating.
Thankfully, this summer more children here on the Jersey Shore and across the country will get to experience the many benefits of camp now that summer camp programs will be reopening. While camp will look and operate a bit differently due to COVID-19 safety measures, the unique setting will continue to provide children opportunities to grow physically, emotionally, socially, and intellectually.
For more than 50 years, our camps at Girl Scouts of the Jersey Shore have helped shape thousands of girls, giving them life skills and lasting memories of friendships that began around the campfire and blossomed on hikes through the woods.
Every year campers express how much fun they have at camp making friends and trying new activities. And parents remind us of the many ways that children thrive and grow in courage, confidence, and character at summer camp.
In an era when children are spending so much time apart, our camp team at Girl Scouts of the Jersey Shore would like to share a few of the many benefits that children gain from joining a summer camp community:
Connecting to Nature and Friends
At camp, kids unplug from cell phones and digital devices and connect to outdoor experiences and to one another. Exploring the outdoors gives children an appreciation for nature, stirs their imagination, ignites their creativity, and supports healthy development. Interacting with new friends teaches kids to cultivate relationships, broaden their perspectives and build bridges of understanding.
Developing Confidence, Self- Esteem and Resilience
Children take on new challenges at camp every day, which helps boost their self-esteem and self-confidence. It’s a place for kids to practice making decisions for themselves and to try new things. Even if they fall short, they are supported by a caring community. Encouraging children to face challenges and take risks in a safe, supportive environment helps build resiliency.
Engaging with Positive Role Models
As a close-knit community away from home and school, summer camp
introduces children to many different role models. Camp counselors and
counselors in training (CIT) are often young adults and high school
students who children easily relate to. Kids look up to these
motivating mentors, who model what it means to be a strong leader as
they guide their camp groups through daily activities. For many
campers, this is where their own leadership journey begins.
Summer 2021 is an opportunity for children to break away from screens and get outdoors to discover nature.
Eileen Higgins is CEO of Girls Scouts of the Jersey Shore, which serves nearly 10,000 girls in Monmouth and Ocean counties. She oversees two outdoor day camps in central New Jersey: Camp Amity Acres in Waretown, Ocean County; and Camp Sacajawea in Farmingdale, Monmouth County, both accredited by the American Camping Association.