Occasionally a family will call me for summer advice and we will talk over the many great options available to kids ages 8-19. Their enthusiasm becomes tepid when they get to the costs of these wonderful summer programs and they say to me, “For that amount of money I can take the whole family on a vacation.” The reality is, they can! However they are missing the point of an away from home summer experience. Be it a traditional camp or specialty camp, teen travel, language or enrichment on a campus, the real benefit of all of these is what your child will gain personally. These growth opportunities are not available to a child on a family trip, with parents at their side.
So what will your child gain? Many things! They will learn to cope with the uncertainties they will encounter and adjust to a new setting. They will share housing with strangers and eat food that might be unfamiliar. They will learn to look out for their own belongings, speak up if they need help and make friends with new kids who might be quite different from those they see at school. They will learn that patience and tolerance ensure success faster than outrage. They can explore new passions, and even fail at something and learn that failure is not earth shattering. And even better, they might learn if they will continue to persevere, success might be attainable. They will have peers near by to root them on and share in the defeats and successes .
Summer experiences offer a supportive environment with caring and helpful leaders and a wealth of situations for kids to learn and grow and develop independence.