WAPAKONETA — As the end of school gets closer, parents start to plan their children’s summer activities. Since no parent wants their kid to be sitting inside all summer watching TV; many parents plan out summer reading programs, vacations, sports, etc. But too many of them forget about sending their child to summer camps! Week-long or even month-long camps can have positive effects on a developing child. The Ohio 4-H program defines organized camping as cooperative group living in a natural environment which focuses on the individual’s social, spiritual, mental and physical development.
According to the Search Institute, children have seven developmental needs: physical activity, competence and achievement, self-definition, creative self-expression, positive social interactions, structure and clear limits, and meaningful participation. Summer camp meets all of these needs for children. Physical activity is often achieved throughout the day (which is spent almost entirely outdoors). When kids play games and team building activities, they often feel a sense of achievement. Cleaning cabins and learning to dress and get ready on their own help develop the camper’s self-definition. Camps develop a child’s independence in a safe environment by letting them make their own decisions about simple things. Counselors help the campers have positive social interactions by always being enthusiastic with the children. Camps have clear limits and guidelines to their rules, which campers will learn early on in the camp program. Campers will always have meaningful participation throughout their day at camp. With all of this, summer camps truly help with children learning their development needs.
Camp programmers select only the best and most dedicated role models to be your child’s camp counselors. They will show your child how to meet others without being online. 4-H Camp Palmer will allow kids to meet other children from all around Auglaize County. Many children develop life-long friendships with those who they met at camp. Even the camp counselors, adult counselors, and permanent staff all have many memories and friends they gained from summer camp. Through an Auglaize County 4-H Camp Evaluation (filled out by campers from the recent camp), many said that their favorite things were food, friends, and the counselors. Their least favorite things were things counselors and camp directors can’t control; such as, weather, losing counselors who are too old to come back, and not a long enough period for camp. Out of 53 campers who surveyed, 46 said camp was excellent and 48 said they are definitely coming back next year.
According to the American Camp Association, when asked what they learned at camp, campers said things like: people skills, treat people nicely, responsibility, patience, appreciation, and confidence. When we asked campers what they learned at Camp Palmer they said: independence, leadership, patience, responsibility, teamwork, and enthusiasm. Campers also learned archery, line dancing, games, skits, and many crafts at Auglaize County 4-H Camp. Some of the same things the children stated are learned at many other camps all around the world.
Although it may seem scary to send your children off to a week-long or month-long camp; it could be crucial for their developing needs. Campers will always be in safe hands throughout their camp experience. When parents miss their children, they can send Bunknotes for their child to receive throughout the week. Children will miss their parents too; but sometimes, they’re just having too much fun to be worried about it.
Auglaize County 4-H Camp will be held from June 19 through June 23 at 4-H Camp Palmer (near Fayette, Ohio). Registration is due by June 10. For more information about the 4-H camping program, please contact OSU Extension, Auglaize County at 419-739-6580. Youth ages 8 through 15 are encouraged attend. Non 4-H members are accepted at camp in addition to 4-H members.
The writer is a 4-H camp counselor in Auglaize County.