Written by: Gayla Grace | Piedmont Parent Magazine
Camp has a unique way of teaching kids their value while giving them fun opportunities they would never experience at home. Sports camps, in particular, offer new adventures as kids explore hidden abilities or build on already developed skills while making friends and learning life skills in the process. Sports camps offer benefits that extend far beyond the basics of practicing a sport.
1. Character-building opportunities. Sports camps teach kids what perseverance feels like and what it means to reach outside their comfort zones. “Sports themselves are great for the physical aspect but also teach sportsmanship, camaraderie and discipline,” says Matt Davanzo, director of an all-sports academy. Tennis pro Eric Fromm says sports, particularly tennis, help kids develop skills they can use their entire lives. “These skills carry over into schoolwork and life skills — dealing with adversity, problem solving, overcoming obstacles, focusing, learning how to lose and pick yourself up.”
2. Exercise. Childhood and adolescent obesity rates continue to climb, and lack of exercise contributes significantly to the problem. Technology seduces kids to stay indoors in front of a screen. Sports camps offer a great alternative as kids choose what sports they’re interested in and reap the rewards of exercise in the process. Fromm says the No. 1 reason to send kids to camp is because they are meant to be active over the summer. Regular exercise doesn’t happen naturally, however; there must be planning, effort and encouragement from parents.
3. Fun. The fun of summer break wanes if days drag on with nothing to do. Sports camps provide fun and learning at the same time. They often include high-school and college students who work with kids in a playful and energetic manner, creating a natural atmosphere for fun.
4. New friends. Kids find new friends at sports camp who share similar interests and often go to the same school. When our family relocated to another state during the summer, our elementary-age son found new friends through a baseball camp that helped him acclimate to his new school in the fall. Kids experience natural and friendly camaraderie with others through sports camps.
5. Focus on specific skill-building techniques. An athlete gains more confidence and greater ability in his sport by working on the mechanics of a sport repetitively. Playing a sport through the school year doesn’t incorporate everyday skill-building repetition like camps do. As kids move through middle school and high school, it’s particularly important they improve in their sport to stay competitive.
6. Find new sports of interest. Sports camps are the perfect place to explore sports that a child hasn’t tried before or aren’t always offered at school, such as tennis or soccer. With a friendly camp staff and encouraging environment, kids are less intimidated and more likely to seek new interests.
7. Develop healthy lifelong habits. Through regular exercise at sports camps, kids also develop accompanying habits of discipline, commitment and responsibility. These habits translate into leadership skills and a strong work ethic when kids begin to move into career-minded opportunities in their middle- and high-school years.
8. Give parents a break. Whether you’re a stay-at-home mom, work-at-home dad or in the workforce outside the home, sports camps give parents a chance to take their mind off their child and focus on their own needs and wants for a change. Every parent deserves a break from the 24/7 parenting responsibilities that summer warrants.
As a mom of five children, I’ve watched our kids emerge from summer sports camps with enthusiasm for a new sport, rediscovered self-confidence, like-minded friendships and regular exercise habits that propelled them into a new school year. While unplugged from technology in an active environment, sports camps offer friendly competition and valuable life lessons for kids.
Camp increases kids’ self-esteem as they try new things, taking them outside their comfort zones and forcing them to work through their fears. Kids at camp also become acquainted with those who come from varying home situations, allowing them to see the world through different eyes.
Sports camps create lifelong memories amid fun, learning and exercise. Don’t wait! Find a sports camp for your child and watch him or her thrive.
– See more at: Piedmont Parent