“There were so many successful things about my summer with Bold Earth! I made lifelong friendships, great bonds with my counselors and just had the best summer ever! I learned a lot of lessons, one of them being able to appreciate life more, and not take the little things for granted, like a sky full of stars or a beautiful view.” Charlotte, Bold Earth Alum from New York City
The BEST camp activities are not the traditional activities. When thinking about a summer camp experience for your teenager, camp activities and schedule are key factors. Many families seek a traditional residential camp for their son or daughter with the sport activities that are generally included. Many families fail to consider that in addition to ‘sports’ or ‘active’ activities there are also life skills to be learned that many traditional camps neglect.
CONSIDER ACTIVITIES BEYOND SPORTS
Teen Adventure Camps offer teenagers an opportunity to be active, explore and learn life skills that lead to maturity, independence and an increased sense of confidence. Abbott Wallis, the executive director of Bold Earth Teen Adventures recommends parents consider the following 5 camp activities that are fun, active, that will help campers mature and come home yelling, “I WAS AWESOME!”
5 Activities that Change Camp from Fun to Life Changing:
1. Cooking – Does the camp include cooking responsibilities? Campers that are invested in their food and well being will not only appreciate the process but will learn life skills to bring home. This is a GREAT team-building activity.
2. Daily Leadership Responsibilities – Are campers given daily leadership activities? At Bold Earth, campers are selected to be the ‘Leader of the Day’ and partner with the counselors to make decisions and lead group meetings. This is an empowering experience for teens that leads to a sense of ownership of the experience.
3. Music – Campers that are singing and dancing are fully engaged. Camp is designed to be a refuge from social pressure and music helps to bring campers together and encourages campers to be themselves.
4. Fun Sports – Competition and pressure have become the norm in sports. This can alienate kids who are engaged in sports for exercise and fun. At Bold Earth, we focus on sports and activities that are new for everyone. Activities such as rock climbing, whitewater rafting, surfing and ultimate frisbee are activities that emphasize exercise and skill building while avoiding intense or unwanted competition.
5. Community Service – Summer is an opportunity for campers to experience new cultures and travel in an authentic way. Community Service is a core principal of Bold Earth’s teen programs and is included on all 23 trips! Community Service brings the group together and helps the local community. In addition, a well organized community service project allows the summer to be about more than just the camper. It allows the camper to say, “I made a difference this summer.”
Camp is for Independence, Leadership and FUN!
Camp is an opportunity for teenagers to mature and grow into their own skin. If teenagers feel micromanaged or underwhelmed, camp can be an experience of angst, frustration and immaturity. With 37 years of summer camp experience, not to mention attending camp as a teenager, Abbott Wallis of Bold Earth understands that camp can be more. That, “Camp can be a game-changer – just make sure the camp has activities designed for your teenager’s maturity level. However, don’t underestimate your son or daughter’s potential. When campers leave home, they often embrace activities and responsibilities that they may have shunned in the past.” Parents spoken to for this article reported a common sentiment, “My camper is too old for traditional camp.” Researching the activities of a teen camp is much more important than a traditional camp.
Graduated from Traditional Camp
Families choose a teen camp experience for their teenager because they feel the teen has ‘graduated’ from traditional camp. When canoeing on the lake becomes boring, or the ropes course becomes easy, or the rules seem archaic – these are clear signs that a teenager has outgrown their traditional residential camp.
Camp should be a comfortable and fun ‘away’ experience. Parents send kids to camp from a young age in order for them to gain a sense of independence and mature away from home. Just as you select a camp because of extra supervision or specific activities for young campers, you should research a camp that is designed for teenagers and that has the resources and the experience to maximize the experience for an older camper. The best activities are often not the selling points. Only experienced and knowledgable parents know the activities that will take an average teen camp experience and make it life changing.
Take Ownership of the Summer!
The activities above describe a camp that is inclusive, mature and one that allows campers to take ownership of their summer. Cooking, Leadership, Music, Fun Sports and Community Service should be activities you look for when selecting a teen camp for your teenager.
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The author of this article is Damien S. Wilhelmi. If you enjoyed this piece you can follow me on Twitter @JakabokBotch. If you are looking to find a great Teen Summer Program, be sure to check out BoldEarth.com to see what is available.
- TeenSummerCamps.com (simplysenia.com)