Summer Camps: Benefits Beyond the Obvious
Here at NSGT and SIG, we often discuss the benefits of academic summer programs, referring to the major benefits of increased academic depth, personal independence, development of meaningful relationships, and so forth. These are all fantastic benefits, and of particular significance to gifted, creative, and academically talented youth, as such programs can fill many gaps in the students’ overall education.
It’s also interesting and valuable to note all the additional benefits of summer youth camps, in a more general sense. A recent study commissioned by the American Camp Association, Northeast Region, alerts us to an expanded view of those benefits. Particular attention in their listed results is given to economic benefits associated with employment and the capital contributions placed into the economy through camp operations. However, for those of us who work with gifted students, it is those noted benefits associated with nurturing our future generation that are of most relevance and interest to us here at NSGT. Findings taken from the Executive Summary of the 2017 Economic Contribution of Youth Camping in the Northeast included these three areas:
- The greatest long-term economic impact of youth camps may be their contribution to the development of human capital. A wealth of survey research suggests that youth camps improve developmental and academic outcomes, promote wellness, and provide valuable employment experiences.
- Youth camps also foster the type of non-academic skills that U.S. employers demand. These skills are impossible to learn through traditional instruction or to measure on a standardized test, but they are necessary to becoming a successful, fully contributing member of today’s economy. By tradition and design, youth camps specialize in the types of character-building activities that foster these skills and traits.
- Youth camps may be one of the last experiences that children and young people can have where they are disconnected from screens, video games and their phones, tablets and computers. In our 21st Century world where all people increasingly rely on – and retreat to – electronic stimulation and communication, the youth camp experience requires campers and staff to “unplug” and genuinely connect to other people.
We have found these results to be consistent with our program results as well. We believe that such outcomes are critical for preparing our gifted young people for a productive, compassionate, and competent future in which our global concerns are dealt with in meaningful ways that result in action-oriented solutions. So, next time you think about summer camp, think in an expanded way about all the benefits, from personal to global, that can result from the unique experiences provided by summer programs.
All the best,