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Responsibility at Camp Spawns Independence

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Hey, Camp Fans!

I’m posting Tips and Advice about the Five Goals of Summer Camp on Tuesdays throughout May. Last week I gave parental pointers you can use to help make sure you’re kid improves in athleticism, intellectualism, and artistry—Goal #2—and the week before that I talked about Goal #1: Have Fun. Today we cover new territory with Goal #3.

Goal #3: Gain Independence.

Goal #3 is a different animal than the first two. You can tell, pretty much immediately, if your kid had fun at camp or if they sharpened their skills in things they’re passionate about. The results of the first two goals are more-or-less concrete outcomes, whereas the results from Goal #3 can be a little more subtle and slow to show.

Being away from home in itself gives your kid the confidence and interest in discovering new things on their own. Kids become more outgoing and take healthy risks that they otherwise wouldn’t take with parents around. In fact, being away from home is the most influential forces in gaining independence.

Sometimes, the results of your kid’s achieved independence will be more evident. Kids return from camp and suddenly stop interrupting when you’re talking with somebody else or clearing the dinner table without being asked. How does this happen?

It works like this: your kid is given a taste of something new at camp—responsibility. They’re responsible for tasks at camp and (with guidance) they’re responsible for themselves. This creates an awareness and understanding of what needs to be done within their community at camp and, without being told what to do, campers do it.

As noted in Drs. Chris Thurber and Jon Malinowski’s ‘The Summer Camp Handbook,’ “Independence slowly evolves alongside an increased sense of interdependence—the way in which we all count on one another.

Parents should also keep in mind that their kid’s increased responsibility and use of manners will likely fade throughout the year. After all, they're kids! Camp isn’t going to turn them into adults! It just gives them a push in the right direction. Come back next week to read about Goal #4: Make Friends and Develop Social Skills. And, as always, thanks for reading.


- John


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