At our camps, we take time for children to play together in collaborative and imaginative ways. This allows the caring staff to support children as they play, build new friendships, learn to communicate effectively with others, and create child-directed activities without adult micro-management. Essentially, we are providing them with an emotionally safe place to practice social skills and build confidence. Within this model we can also help students work through conflicts and help them understand appropriate social behaviors. Our goal is to equip them with words and self-control to handle conflict situations peacefully, rather than resorting to anger, violence, and emotional meltdowns.
By playing with others in a camp community, children develop:
- self-regulation – the ability to identify and manage one’s feelings, thoughts, emotions, and behaviors
- self-efficacy – the internal belief that you can be successful at tasks you engage in, a positive self image and sense of “yes I can!”, along with the determination to keep trying despite setbacks or failures. (#grit)
- peer communication skills – the ability to express their needs and desires coherently and negotiate compromises
- physical and mental health through engagement in nature – giving kids a coping mechanism for reducing life’s stresses through positive and purposeful activity
These soft skills are keys to success in life. They grow children into healthy, happy and productive adults.