By Jess Michaels
Looking for a way to give your child an edge in life to succeed in the future? Would you believe it’s as easy as signing your child up for camp? Summer camp offers children the opportunity to gain the important skills they need to become successful adults in the 21st Century.
“The world has changed since we were kids. Our children are growing up in a world that is rapidly changing with the increased use of automation and artificial intelligence which raises questions about what the jobs of the future will be,” says Scott Brody, Owner and Director of Camps Kenwood for boys and Camp Evergreen for girls, brother/sister camps in New Hampshire. “It’s our job to robot proof our kids so that whatever the jobs of the future look like, we have given them a set of skills that enable them to adapt.”
In life, being able to talk to people who have different interests than your own is an important skill to have when children go off to college or in any career. Genna Singer, Director of Camps for the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan says social dynamics are a huge part of what camp is about and that camp allows for children of different ages and backgrounds to interact where there might not have been another opportunity to do so. “Our camp buses run by neighborhood location, not age or camp group so you have five year olds riding the bus with 12-year-olds,” she explains. “The first week, campers are wondering how to talk to the younger or older kids and wondering what they think is cool, but by the second or third week, there are magical relationships that develop. One camp parent told me her 6-year-old invited a 10 year old girl to her birthday party and said she had to invite the older girl because she was her bus buddy.”
Today’s schools aren’t focused on social emotional learning which is becoming increasingly more important. “In tomorrow’s world, skill sets such as collaboration, communication, critical thinking and creativity—often called the four Cs—are the skills children are going to need to succeed. According to the World Economic Forum Future Jobs Report, the aptitudes that were needed in the workplace in 2015 and what will be needed in 2020 are exactly these skills,” Brody says. “This is why opportunities for our kids to learn these skills become so critical. Camp has been teaching these skills for over 150 years and we do it in a way that kids find fun, compelling and exciting. Sure, camp teaches soccer and adventure but all these programs are also opportunities for kids to deepen creativity, believe in themselves, gain a sense of belonging, learn to be adaptable, and to build resilience.”
Camp is also a place where children are able to learn how to lose. “Collectively as a society, children feel a lot of pressure to be great at things. In the camp environment, a camper can be good, great or not so great at things but it’s okay because he or she tried and was successful at their own rate,” Singer says. “This is a skill young people will need when they don’t get into their first choice college or don’t get a job they were hoping for. We teach children it’s ok to not always win.”
Forget the extra STEM classes and academic summer programs. Signing your child up for a traditional summer camp program is one of the best ways to ensure your child will be equipped with the skills needed to succeed in years to come.