Written by Steve Bates - Deputy Head of Elstree Boarding School for over 30 years.
Have you been thinking of sending your child on a residential Summer Camp? It can be daunting for both parents and their children but there are some great benefits for your youngster to experience from having time away, particularly if the camp you choose has an emphasis in a field that the camper is interested in – sport, music or tech for example. Here are 10 reasons why you should consider this tried and tested experience for your child this Summer holiday season:
- 1. Self-esteem and confidence - residential camps offer the opportunity for like-minded children to work alongside other children who have similar interests, and to gain peer-recognition for those skills. Staying overnight means that developing these strengths does not have to stop at the end of the day. Camps where individual skills are recognised help children feel more in control of their lives, and those experiences travel home as easily as any tech equipment they leave with! This level of increased confidence from not having Mum and Dad around all the time will also improve problem solving skills and self-sufficiency – crucial when children are starting to think about senior school or even University life.
- 2. Independence is developed by being away from home for a short time. Tutors are always there to help but the campers do have the opportunity to be more independent in a multitude of ways. “What shall I have for breakfast?” “Do I need to change my socks?” “What shall I choose for evening activities this time?” Having an experienced camp manager ensures that everything goes to plan, however making their own minds up in a situation where no decision is really the wrong one is something very much worth encouraging. You never know – they might even realise why it is generally a good idea to have a shower every day!
- 3. Making friends - campers come without school baggage, cliques and existing large friendship groups, which can go a long way towards helping them make new friends more easily. Meeting different youngsters from different countries over an extended day and during evening activities helps break down the barriers that children often put up between each other. We see many lasting friendships made at camp each season, from sometimes unlikely-seeming combinations of characters!
- 4. Resilience - life has its ups and downs, and being part of a community and away from judgement by close family members allows campers to deal with any minor setbacks more easily than they might otherwise. The nurturing environment that a residential camp provides gives campers the security to tackle anything that arises when life does not quite go as planned. The best camping experiences offer campers opportunities for manageable amounts of risk and responsibility – after all life is not without risk, and learning how to approach risk responsibly is a very important part of growing up. Here at Tech Camp we have a carefully considered but sensible approach to safety and how it affects learning - you can read more here.
- 5. Social Skills and Team Building – having to live with others and needing to speak up for themselves (albeit under the discreet watchful eye of the Manager and Tutors) improves interpersonal skills hugely! Getting to know both older and younger campers without the typical school social “do not cross” lines is character building, and being part of a group encourages campers to be more in tune with the needs of others and vice versa. We often find that the most unlikely friendships can be formed between children of different ages, who would not ordinarily interact with others outside of their age group in a school situation.
- 6. Team physical and group activity – even if you are not traditionally “sporty”, some of the more varied physical activities in a Summer Camp situation encourage a feelgood factor and a sense of belonging, whilst being much more appealing than the standard options available at school. Many of the ‘extra’ activities even at a camp with tech as its focus promote a healthy, active lifestyle. Ultimate frisbee, a game of casual football, charging around during a Laser Tag game and even reverse engineering a massive photocopier are some of the ways campers can be physically active whilst enjoying each other’s company.
- 7. New skills and inspiration will be gleaned not only from completing the chosen course for the week, but just as importantly mixing with likeminded campers during ‘out of course’ time, which will encourage the development of linked skills. The wide variety of highly specialised residential Summer Camps now available allow children to learn and improve skills that they would not otherwise be able to. More time in the evenings also means more opportunities to try new but related things, and potentially find a new passion they never knew they had. Tutors studying the subjects that campers are interested in, and their enthusiasm and ability means they make great role models, and are able to offer useful advice to older campers with regards to the next steps in their education.
- 8. Diversity and inclusion - many camps have tutors and campers from all over the world, all races and religions. A camp where everyone is in the same boat is a wonderful opportunity to mix with, and begin to understand the multi-cultural world we live in. Chatting at break time, including others in your game of Laser Tag, looking out for someone who looks like they need a friend are just a few of the ways to develop a sense of community and social responsibility.
- 9. Leadership skills – a varied selection of fun group activities often encourages those who have not had the opportunity to develop these skills yet in their school environment – team challenges allow campers to voice their opinion and develop the ability to work as a group. A good team leader has great communication skills and this is nurtured during the week away from home, and potentially improved on when back at school in September.
- 10. Fun! Of course, all the added benefits of camp only really develop if the camp itself is quite simply great fun for campers and tutors alike – who better to summarise than one of our campers:
“I enjoy being with people who are interested in the same sort of things as me. It’s been great to learn things that you don't get taught at school like soldering and electronics. I would definitely recommend going to Tech Camp as all the people are so friendly and you never get a chance to feel homesick. I have used the skills I learnt to make many projects including programmable models. Going away to Tech Camp on my own has given me more confidence and I feel that anyone going should not be scared as everyone makes it easy to join in and enjoy learning."
Tech Camp is the UK’s original camp of its kind and remains the only one specialising in teaching coding and electronics through advanced take-home projects. It’s perfect for creative youngsters who like making things (or taking them apart!) or to show those who are forever playing games how to start designing their own. With tutors from Russell Group Universities, maximum groups of eight, and exclusive courses not available anywhere else, we attract campers from over 20 countries each season. See us in action at Sparsholt College in the video - then come and learn coding and electronics, to build your own 3D printer, fly drones or design and prototyping skills this summer!