Personal Story About the Impact of Summer Camp from a Child’s Perspective by Ryan Shortill, Founder Positive Adventures
Each year I get sharper at being a better parent. The cycles and seasons are more ingrained as the kids reach double digit ages and first days of school and holiday breaks become more commonplace. One such aspect of being a parent of two wonderful children is seeing them engaged in activities outside of the traditional classroom. Spring break and summer camp offer opportunities for families to hit the open road, or have relatives visit for extended stays. This out of classroom time is a wonderful chance for children to explore and create beyond the given structures that are commonplace for them.
Spring is coming to a close and now the time comes again where the days are long, the nights are warm and the last bell rings for the school year. This time can leave parents in a scramble because now those full school days during the week have to change with the summer season. I am happy to report that as a younger parent, summer crept on me quickly. Now with a bit more experience and a few gray hairs I am feeling on top of my game with most of the summer plans and camps booked! Growth takes time and I am grateful to have this off my ever growing to do list.
As a child I had my own stint with summer camps. I went to a few sleep away camps but missed my brothers and sisters dearly. I then found a wonderful day camp that I went to for many years. I fondly look back on those innocent days of playing in the forest and doing arts and crafts as some of the most enjoyable years of my life. A New England Summer is hard to beat! During those camp moments as a kid and later working as a long time camp staff, I saw first hand just how important these times were for development and personal growth. In fact, I was working on a camp ropes course when I had the idea to create Positive Adventures. The students I worked with were sharing how sad they were that summer was almost up and asked how we could carry this feeling all school year long and I just stated on the spot: I’ll create a company and bring this feeling into the school year. And since that fateful day we have worked with tens of thousands of students over the 17 years.
Late last summer my daughter returned from a day on the water at a Positive Adventures summer camp having learned to surf and shared, “I feel like I am on top of the world dad!!!” – Now it’s common for children to have exuberance but my daughter has always been more of a reserved bookworm, forgoing traditional sports and preferring crafting over competition. This was a bit off brand for her normal responses as a pre-teen and I could see her absolutely beaming. As most parents can attest there are moments when we look at our children and we notice changes within them that alter their course and this was one of those moments. My daughter was presented with novel experiences, and nontraditional activities, with the results being hard to miss. Camps work.
Camps work in ways that can’t always be easily explained. Whether it’s an outdoor education retreat with school, a summer camp, or even just camping with the family – these opportunities help shape and sculpt who we are to become. There is more than enough normal routine in most of our lives. Mixing things up does good for body and mind and we see it time and time again with the work we do. In fact, if there was a way I thought I could make a greater impact on the community I would be doing it but I am reminded often just how important this work is and the benefits it delivers, first hand.
I know it’s not realistic for every parent to have summer planned out months early. But this is an appropriate time to look at what offerings are available to support your children during the summer. Ask your children their interests, see what kinds of camps they would search for. There is a type of camp for everyone from little engineering or working with horses to swimming lessons and sailing there is something for every child. And like my book worm kiddo, being exposed to things out of her norm, gave her so much more than I could ever give as a parent alone. We offer camps that are inclusive, where kindness and responsibility reign and where learning occurs where it matters most.