How Summer Camp Helps Boys 8 to 11 Grow
Summer camp can help your son develop critical life skills, particularly in social relations, empathy and understanding of others, and confidence through skill building, all wrapped up in lots and lots of fun!
Understanding Your Son's Developmental Stage
As a parent of a boy between 8 and 11, you've seen your son grow from early childhood to middle childhood. Children mature at different rates, but child development experts tell us that middle childhood is a time when children generally start to build their interpersonal and social skills. They are still strongly attached to their family but making friends is becoming more and more important. They begin to identify with peers and want to fit in and not stick out. Empathy is starting to develop. They can be full of energy and excited but nervous about exploring the world. They may listen well but not remember what they've heard and can have a limited attention span. They like to learn and acquire skills and then hear how much they've improved, particularly by adults. They still look to adults for approval; however, satisfaction is shifting from getting adult approval to a sense of accomplishment. And they still like to be in organized groups with other boys.
Here's how summer camp can help your son develop age-appropriate skills:
Summer camp can help your son build social competence. Your son will live and eat with other boys who are within a year of his age. Many, if not all, of the campers will likely be new to him. Meeting new kids and living in a close communal setting under the caring supervision of trained adults provides lots of opportunity for social interaction. This also supports two of the summer camp's essential values—tolerance and respect for all. If there's a bump along the way, there's an adult nearby to help your son work through the issue. And when your son makes friends, he'll gain confidence in his social abilities. Your son will also have the opportunity to select the activities he wants, to be as active as he wants, and allowing him to be with his friends and other boys with whom he wants to be friends.
Empathy and Understanding
Summer camp can help build empathy and understanding of others. The campers with whom your son will live, eat, and play may not just be new to him, but they may come from a different state or even country and a very different background. For example, each summer we typically have some campers who come from across the U.S., and even from Europe and Asia. And even many of our counselors are here on an international cultural exchange visa. Getting to know people from different regions and backgrounds begins the process of understanding them, which in turn nurtures empathy. It's a fantastic opportunity for your son to ask himself how he'd feel in their shoes.
Summer camp can help your son build confidence. When anyone faces a challenge, especially one that's a little beyond his comfort zone, and then emerges on the other side successfully, he naturally gains confidence. He thinks, "Yeah, I can do that!" That holds true for being away from home for the first time, to new friends, to acquiring new skills. Boys 8-11 are not only a beehive of activity but think that virtually anything is possible. So let's work on empowering them now with these essential life skills and help them fill their potential!