How Summer Camp Builds Resilience in Your Child

Summer camp pulls teens and kids away from technology to explore nature and get a little dirty. Here are seven things camps provide children to help build resilience.

I recently spoke to 300 camp directors about how to make children more resilient to life stress. Summer camps, we discovered, are perfect places to help children optimize their psychosocial development.

After all, summer camps are places where children get the experiences they need to bolster their range of coping strategies. There are the simple challenges of learning how to build a fire, going on a hike, or conquering a high ropes course. There are the much more complex challenges of getting along with a new group of peers, learning how to ask for help from others, or taking manageable amount of risks without a parent following after you.

The best camping experiences offer these opportunities for manageable amounts of risk and responsibility, what I term “the risk takers advantage” (see my book Too Safe for Their Own Good (link is external) for more examples). The worst camps pander to children as if they are entitled little creatures whose parents are paying big sums of money. Children at camp can’t be treated like customers if they are going to get anything out of the experience. They need to be treated like students whose caregivers, the counselors, know what the kids need to grow.

Learn moreā€¦