Are camp fees worth it?

Many parents say campers develop essential life skills, friendships and memories to last a lifetime

summer-camp-guilde-2-may-2014According to this sampling of quotes from satisfied parents, camp has provided an invaluable experience for their children.

“I marvelled as to how two weeks could make such a difference in a young life, but it really did. I think the combination of developing skills and friendships in a setting away from home builds tremendous confidence.”

“Camp has been an important part of our daughter’s growing up. She has gained a great deal from the activities and the companionship and leadership of the counsellors. Both our children are far better people for their camp experience and both have learned valuable skills, which will benefit them throughout life.”

“Chris returned home a little more independent, proud of his accomplishments and full of fun memories, which will last forever.” You too will discover that a camp experience gives excellent value if you do your homework, and then choose an accredited camp that meets your child’s needs.

How does a good camp have such a positive influence on a young person’s life?

Children learn more readily at camp because the instruction is fun. For the most part, they are participating in activities that they have chosen.

The teaching methods stress hands-on participation rather than passive sitting and listening. The counsellor-teachers, who are close in age to their camper-students, are skilled, energetic and enthusiastic.

Improvement, however minimal, is acknowledged with a smile, a pat on the back or a positive comment. Counsellors are great cheerleaders! As campers experience success and gain recognition, their confidence increases.

Campers learn to swim, sail, water ski, act, paint, and play golf or tennis activities, which will fill their leisure hours in years to come. Inadvertently, they acquire valuable life skills.

Living in close quarters, they must co-operate to tidy their cabin. Eating in large groups, they need to be patient while everyone is served. Playing with others, they learn to compromise.

Alex thinks that fishing is boring, but if he agrees to fish in the morning, his tent mates will sail with him in the afternoon. Interacting with children from different places, cultures and religions increases understanding, tolerance and respect.

The counsellors are the catalysts in instilling these positive characteristics. Other than brief time-off periods, while camp is in session, they are on-duty or on-call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Their time and energy is devoted to the safety and well-being of their group.

From the wake-up whistle in the morning till the bedtime story at night, they work and play with their campers. They are available to help them make their bed, find their toothbrush, rig the sailboat, improve their front crawl, listen to their chatter or concerns, gather wood for the campfire, then wonder at the beauty of the night sky.

They are able to devote more time to their young campers than most parents and teachers. It is understandable that campers come to admire, respect and emulate these fine young leaders.

Another long-term benefit of the camping experience is making new friends, many of whom become friends for life. Close bonds are formed as campers experience the fun, challenges and triumphs of camp days.

As the experiences of former campers attending a reunion affirm, even after years apart, camp friends can resume a relationship as if they had camped together yesterday.

Children, who are kept busy during the school year with athletic, artistic and academic endeavours, need time to rest and relax. Singing with friends around the campfire, lying on the grass watching the clouds roll by, sitting in the sun writing a letter home or skipping stones in the lake are all worthwhile ways to spend a long summer day after the demands and stresses of the school year. After a camp holiday, children are rejuvenated and ready to tackle new challenges.

Join the host of parents who know that sending a child to camp is a worthwhile investment in their future. Begin your search on the website of your provincial camping association.


Catherine Ross is Communications Officer, Canadian Camping Association, Past President Society of Camp Directors, former Camp Director, author How to Be a Camp Counsellor…the best job in the world! 

Photo: © valuavitaly