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Articles by Andy
Andy Pritikin is the Owner/Director of Liberty Lake, an active member of the American Camp Association and is a dedicated youth development professional. He has written several published articles relating to the world of summer camps and youth development issues.
Have you ever met anyone who has gone to summer Camp? Ever listen to them go on and on about that amazing counselor, or their close “Camp friends” that they still speak to years later? For those of you without this experience, it must sound quite strange- I mean, isn’t “Camp” just a bunch of kids and counselors running around playing games? Well, not quite. First of all, it has nothing to do with RV parks, or any movies made by Bill Murray or that Ernest guy. Talk to any camper, Camp parent, Camp director, etc.- and you’ll be told wonderful stories, filled with magical memories and positive life-altering experiences. But although we can describe the positive effects of Camp for hours, Camp is just one of those things in life, that unless you’ve been there- it’s hard to appreciate its amazing impact.
Let the Children Play!
How many of you reading this were literally FORCED out of your house as children to play for 2-3 hours at a time to do whatever? My guess would be MOST of you. My mother used to actually add the charming phrase, I don't care if you throw rocks at each other! to make her point- My brothers and I were going outside, and there would be no discussion about it. Today, how many of you grown-ups force your kiddies outside for 2-3 hours at a time with no specific play-date or plans? My guess would be VERY, VERY FEW. Why is this? Play is something that we as mammals were meant to do- it's totally natural. Just watch a bunch of children left on their own- or puppy dogs for that matter. We were meant to play- outside, by the way.
The Lasting Positive Impact of Summer Camp
This summer over 10 million children will attend over 12,000 camps. At the same time, many more millions of children will be spending their summers “hanging out” around the house, the local pool, etc, oblivious to the amazing experience they could be having at camp. There are all kinds of camps available for all kinds of children, at all kinds of prices (be sure to look for the ACA American Camping Association accreditation logo when looking for a quality camp). But when I try to explain to non-camp parents the tremendous positive impact that camps make on children, I’m often met with blank stares or silence on the other end of the phone. While most camps will give you personal references from people you may or may not know, I would like to share a couple of success stories from some former campers that you might know of.
Our Kids Need Camp!
We love our kids. We give them everything we can, determined to give them a better life than the one we had. Our homes are places of love and support, as well as state-of-the-art media centers with big screen TVs, high speed internet, vast libraries of entertainment, and more toys than a child could ever need. But for over 10 million children every Summer, the best thing that their parents do for them is to actually get them OUT of the house, away from their cushy suburban lives of luxury with their parents watching their every move, and into some real-life excitement at Summer Camp! While this liberating freedom may seem daunting (mostly to parents), the facts show that today’s children truly need Camp.
Friendships: Get Them While You Can At Camp
While child obesity has been the national kid-concern of choice for the past few years, recent research on the lack of adult “friendships” and the sad trend towards social isolation has given youth development experts serious cause for concern. Childhood is when we learn the skills of making and keeping friends, and our net result, adulthood, is not showing dividends. The data and its conclusions come from two renowned, identical studies- done 20 years apart. American adults are far more socially isolated today than they were two decades ago.
Economic Spotlight on Childcare
In the tough NJ economy that we live in, few families enjoy the luxury of having a non-workforce parent at home to care for their children. Typical parents begin their day waking, dressing, feeding, and making lunch for their children (and themselves). They drop their children off for extended care, either at their children's school or daycare center, and hopefully get to work on time. Then, of course, school ends at 3PM - right in the middle of our afternoon meetings, or our rush of potential sales. The kids remain in extended afternoon care, or if they are lucky ($$$) stay with a babysitter until Mom/Dad get home around dinner time. Throw in homework, sports practices, dance, karate, piano, etc. - Plus school vacations, teachers "in-service days", and the fact that every other phone call I get seems to be from a single mom...Are you getting stressed out just reading this?
How to Choose A Summer Camp
When your kids have graduated the local Day Care, Rec. Program, or "Camp Mom", and you're looking for the next logical step in giving a wonderful growth experience away from gameboys, the internet and TV - Camp is the answer! Every Summer over 12 million children attend Day Camps and Resident Camps across the country! Here's some helpful pointers.
ACA Conference Presentation by Andy - 21st Century Camp