FACILITY NOTICES: The Mapleton Y is closed July 1-7 for annual maintenance. The Arapahoe Y ice rink is closed July 2-3 for construction. The Arapahoe and Longmont Ys are open July 4, 8:00am-6:00pm (no fitness classes or Child Watch).

5 Ways Summer Camp Benefits Your Kids

May 12, 2015, 17:00 PM by Emily Sampl

Each and every summer, hundreds of kids trek off to one of the YMCA of Boulder Valley’s sports camps, day camps or overnight camps. Besides simply getting kids out of the house and into a safe, supervised environment as well as keeping them active during the summer months, YMCA camps also provide kids the opportunity to learn lifelong lessons and interact with different groups of kids than they might see at school. Our YMCA Camp Santa Maria staff see five major benefits for kids involved in these camps:

  1. Developing self-efficacy.

At camp, we can allow kids to try new things and build their skills based on real feedback and personal choices. We try to give descriptive praise rather than evaluative praise, so the kids can see and hear praise based on what they did rather than simply "good job." Campers see that they will be recognized for their actual skills, not just blanket comments that cover everyone. Self-efficacy is more important than self-esteem, which often relies on external praise for a child's development.

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  1. Risk-taking in a safe environment.

We allow kids to take some risks at camp; it could be trying rock climbing, dance, art, canoeing or singing in front of the whole camp. The staff is there to keep the kids safe, emotionally and physically, and to allow the kids to experience failure. When the kids do experience failure, we want to see that failure as a step to skill development and potential mastery.

  1. Making and building friendships.

We focus on getting kids to meet new people who might not be in their normal social circles and have conversations with kids about important things. Conversations, like what it means to be a friend and what it means to be caring or respectful. Each small group of kids gets the chance to interact with other people face-to-face. Many times, friendships formed at camp can last a lifetime.

  1. Learning new skills.

At Camp Santa Maria, kids have the opportunity to make choices about what they want to try, and they can do it once or multiple times each day. The kids are not locked into the roles they usually are in at school, and many activities are things they can't do at home or school like art, archery, canoeing, kayaking, sling-shots, dance or exploring nature.

  1. FUN! Or FUNN – Functional Understanding Not Necessary.

Sometimes we do things just for fun. Playing for the sake of playing.

Emily Sampl is a YMCA of Boulder Valley aquatics staff member and freelance writer. 

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