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What young children get out of a camp experience

Self-confidence and socialization can be developed

Young children can benefit from any kind of camp experience. Children receive some of the same benefits a school or day care environment can provide. Socialization skills can improve and self-esteem can soar as a child finds her niche through activities and interaction with other children.

“The social interaction is similar to a school, and allows a child to develop skills and improve self-confidence,” says Jon Estis of Camp Redwood.

When director Arlene Gould describes a typical day at Mill Street Loft in Poughkeepsie, she explains that children begin their day with the entire group, break away with their peers, gather with the large group for lunch, break away again and end the day with the large group, much in the same way an elementary school classroom may have children learn in smaller groups within the class.

“If you know where your child may have a weakness, such as standing in line, let the counselors know,” advises Irene Rumsey, YMCA camp director for Middletown and Monticello. Any information you can provide in advance will help the staff make camp a positive experience.

Many families who have fallen in love with the camp experience for their child continue the tradition for all siblings. Children tend to be separated by age at a camp, so unless they are twins, your children will likely not see each other very much throughout the day. “If a camp has a high return rate, a child can attend for six years, then become a counselor, and as an adult return as an artist (or other participating role),” explains Gould.

When selecting a camp for your young child, the combination of considerations should include: a safe environment, age and skill level appropriate activities, trained staff, and a tolerable length of time for the child to be away from their parent. Visit the camp, check out the website if available, talk to the staff and bring your child along if possible.

Many camps do not offer a refund policy after camp has begun because a space has been reserved for your child.  However, camp directors feel their staff and environment have been designed to offer the youngest campers the best experience.

Once you have acquired information and narrowed your options down to a few choices, talk it over with your child, and make the best decision for you both to have a great camp experience! As long as both parents and children are ready for it, even the youngest in the family can have a great experience at camp.
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