7 Benefits to sending your kids to summer camp

Jun 13, 2014 at 1:56 a.m. ET

They learn independence, become skilled at managing themselves, bond with other youth and they will be just fine, despite what we think. Here’s why.

kids at summer camp

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It's summertime and there are plenty of things for kids to do: go to a water-park, visit grandmom, brave amusing attractions like Six Flags, the zoo and especially ones that stay open late like Disney. Or kids can do what many kids do around this time and attend a camp or, even better, you can send your kids away to an overnight camp.

And for the first time ever, my kids are going to an overnight camp, and yes, every fear about them leaving home and sleeping in cabins has overcome me. Just think Friday the 13th, Jason and a little camp called Crystal Lake. OK, let me shake that crazy nightmare of a thought out of my brain before I go insane. So as you can see, I've got to learn to deal with this away-camp reality, and face the fact that my kids are growing up and I don’t have to hold their hand, kiss the boo-boos, sing lullabies and rock them to sleep anymore. Instead they'll be preferably sitting around a campfire singing songs and holding hands with their friends. Insert my tears right here.

My kids will be gone for a whole week, and there are many benefits to having your child attend an away summer camp. They learn independence, become skilled at managing themselves, bond with other youth and they will be just fine, despite what we think. Here’s why.

1. Your child will be perpetually active

We all know during the summer kids can easily get caught up in staying inside and playing video games. There will be no room for that during summer camp. My kids are expected to wall-climb, zip across a zip-line and brave a rope course at 4-H camp. And school's not all the way out since they will attend healthy lifestyle classes at camp like Wilderness Survival, Farm to Plate and Herpetology.

2. Independence and confidence

We don't really know if everything we've taught our kids has sunk into their brains until they are away from us and have to put what we've preached into action. Kids really get a boost of self-esteem at camp, and because it's a non-competitive environment, there are more opportunities to succeed and help shape them socially and boost their confidence right out the ballpark.

3. Unplug from technology

At home, kids are more inclined to sit in a comfy chair and play video games until the sun goes down. Camp keeps them engaged and on the go. And they get to interact with real people, have real experiences and rediscover the magic of actually being engaged. Camp provides an unforgettable face-to-face experience.

4. Learn social skills

Cooperation is the key and at camp it's not all about your kid. They'll have to learn to get along in order to be included in activities, because camp is a close-knit community. Everyone must agree to cooperate and respect each other; a far cry from home where siblings often fuss, fight and whine about each other's antics. When they live in a cabin at camp, kids share chores, resolve disagreements and learn how to effectively communicate sans text messages and social media.

5. Finding friendship

At camp, there aren't the pressures that school can sometimes bring, so it's a great place for kids to connect and make lifelong best buddies. Your child will find friends to laugh with, sing and play with and they will make friends easily. They can relax and they'll appreciate being accepted for who they are and will love their friends just the same.

6. Connecting with nature

My daughter Kaitlin will run and duck and hide if any kind of bug flies by. However, at camp she'll have to take Wilderness Survival, Farm to Plate and Herpetology classes (herpetology is a branch of zoology concerned with the study of amphibians including frogs, toads, salamanders, newts etc) and embrace the great outdoors. That's the beauty of camp. Kids are encouraged (and required) to explore and step out of their comfort zone. I expect my kids to come back from camp more confident and fulfilled than ever before.

7. Cultivate life-long skills

There are so many activities offered at camp that your kids will get a chance to indulge in a variety of activities. They will make choices on their own and manage themselves in a way that helps them cultivate lifelong skills. Kids will blossom when they are left to use their own know-how. And with the right instruction, kids enhance their abilities, talents and skills which support healthy child development and life skills that last a lifetime.