The Remedy Kids Need Now

By Geoff Davies

Summer camp has been a tradition and a training ground for generations. For many, it’s the time of their life. It’s often the time that defines their life, too. Camp experiences, in all their forms, give young people opportunities to learn social skills, gain independence, and tap into a new inner confidence. Ask any silver-haired “camper” with a twinkle in their eye—once a camper, always a camper, after all— and they’ll tell you not only about how they found lifelong friends but also a lifelong sense of self. Many leaders and professionals at the top of their field trace their success back to summer camp. Ask the university students, and they’ll tell you it’s where they learned to live with other people. Ask the young professional, and they’ll say it’s where they gained the courage to stand up at the front of the boardroom. But for the children and youth who spend each year counting the days to camp, it’s something much more simple. It’s a place to feel safe and free. To feel supported, connected, and part of a community. To play, grow, and simply have fun. Today, kids need these things more than ever. From the reported crisis in youth mental health to the grip of social media, to the sense of disconnection that took hold during the pandemic years—camp offers an important antidote. Meanwhile, for the kids who just want to have fun, the world of wonders they find at camp is still there. Its magic has just gotten all the more meaningful.


Whether it’s a day camp, overnight camp, a sports camp, or those with other specialties, camps across the board would say the same thing: instilling lifelong benefits isn’t a coincidence—it’s an intentional priority.

3 Girls laying on the dock smiling in the sun.


Sheryl Puckering is a parent of three Ak-O-Mak campers. She believes so strongly in the value of the camp experience that she now spends her summers on the Ak-OMak head staff as a volunteer and mindfulness coach. “My husband and I often say Camp Ak-O-Mak helped raise our kids,” she says. She saw how camp gave her girls the independence and life skills they needed to grow up, move out, and live happily with others in shared college dorms. When one daughter was later applying for her medical residency, the skills the interviewers kept coming back to were the ones she gained at camp. Puckering points out that camp has benefits for parents too, including giving them a much-needed break and time to reconnect with each other. But when her girls were gone each summer, she was glad to know they were gaining these kinds of life skills and experiences, and she looked forward to how they would come back transformed. “When they come home from camp, and they’re getting ready to go back to school, there’s always this different level of excitement for life. They’re happy. “They laugh. They’re full of stories and songs. They just always seemed to have a really positive outlook on life when they came home from camp.”


Taken from: Our Kids Camp Guide 2024 

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