“I bet your daughter went to overnight summer camp.”
This comment was directed to the mother of a thriving college freshman. The speaker went on to say, ” I have noticed that my daughter’s friends who had strong freshman years all went to overnight camp at some point. The ones that really struggled did not.”
How does a summer as a child spent at a residential summer camp prepare the college freshman to be resilient and happy?
In an article in Psychology Today, titled, Creating Advantage in College, author Steve Baskin makes the case that first-year students face three challenges their freshman fall, “increased academic rigor,” “being away from home and your traditional support system,” and “dealing with large amounts of uncertainty.” Although summer camp might not boost a child’s academic record, it certainly can help boost a child’s resilience. Baskin continues, “Camp helps students adjust to being away-from-home by giving them practice being away-from-home.”
New York Times best-selling author Dr. Wendy Mogel was the source of the compliment to the thriving college freshman. Mogel, author of The Blessing of a B- and The Blessing of a Skinned Knee, knows that tough situations can often be the ones that offer children the greatest opportunities for growth and resilience. Steve Baskin contends that, “we live in a society that sometimes suggests to children that they are only safe within eyeshot of their parents. Yet, we parents want our children to grow in confidence and independence so that they can live productive, fulfilling and joyous lives. ”
Directors and counselors at The Aloha Camps know that a summer away from mom and dad can offer a child the opportunity to experience transformational change. By tackling new situations, activities and emotions, with trained counselors on hand to offer guidance, many children return home more confident, more mature and more resilient. Even if college is still years away, a summer at camp helps a child begin to understand that he or she can not only survive without mom and dad looking over their shoulder, but even thrive. As parents, we all want our children to thrive as they grow up and away from us. The first step in that journey for many children has been a Vermont summer at Aloha, Hive or Lanakila.
Laura Gillespie is the Director of Communications at The Aloha Foundation, an alumna of Aloha Hive and Aloha Camp, and has been a Horizons and Lanakila parent. She is also the mother of a high school senior contemplating next year’s college choices.