New Studies Indicate that Kids Need More Sleep

parenting NPR (National Public Radio) printed an article highlighting two studies regarding a correlation between sleep deprivation and depression in teens: “The teenage years are a tumultuous time, with about 11 percent developing depression by age 18. Lack of sleep may increase teenagers’ risk of depression, two studies say.” The two studies are from University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston and Karolinska Institutet in Sweden.

Summer camp helps kids disconnect from the internet and electronics
UT’s lead author in the study, Robert Roberts, says that “Kids should go to bed [and wake up] at a regular time. They should have a dark room if possible — that means no TV, no games, no phones.” Swedish researchers also found that lack of sleep and excessive media use were associated with teenage mental health problems. Rather than reading, playing cards, or simply going to bed earlier, teens surf the internet, listen to music on their iPods, watch videos and chat on their iPads. These forms of entertainment, while seemingly relaxing, actually require a higher level of brain activity than non-screen-based alternatives.

Many camps have strict regulations on personal electronic devices so that kids will engage with their immediate communities rather than their virtual ones. So even though summer camps have demanding hours and packed agendas, kids will actually obtain greater amounts of rest than they would at home. Couple this with the nourishment of nature, fun new social groups, and enjoyable activities, and it becomes quite clear why camp is seen as such a fulfilling and deeply healing way to spend the summer.

Get kids focused on a different set of priorities during summer camp
The article notes that as kids get older, high school homework gets harder and kids take on jobs and more active social lives. Then, “‘when you throw in all the video games and iPods and all the phones,’ Roberts says, sleep starts to become less of a priority.’” Going away for a few weeks during the summer, all of these priorities fall away and kids can remember how to be free from the responsibilities and regiments of the normal year. No computers, no jobs, no reports; just the kids and the trees…and maybe a quick run-through of survival tactics before a river rapids run. This powerful shift lets kids be kids and puts them back on track for stronger and more stable mental health.

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Summer Camps Offer Remedies to Rise in Teen Stress

adventure camps A new survey posted in USA Today indicates that teen stress is on the rise. 64% of the 1018 surveyed teens and 1950 adults reported moderate to extreme stress in the past month and 82% over the last school year. As an added concern, kids are developing bad coping methods like stress-related eating and poor sleeping habits that are carrying over into adulthood. While participants reported a variety of stress-inducing culprits, the benefits of getting kids out of their day-to-day rituals and providing carefree downtime is evidenced by the dramatic reduction of stress reported during summertime.

Summer camp combats sedentary stress-fighting mechanisms
According to the article, “teens say they’re feeling stress in all areas of their lives, from school to friends, work, and family. And they aren’t always using healthy methods to cope.” The survey found that only 28% are playing sports to cope with stress whereas 46% use video games and 43% surf the internet to decompress. This means that more and more kids are sitting all day at school and then coming home to sit in front of a screen. Summer camp gets kids out of their routine and out of the chair. Even indoor, educational summer camps allow time and space for physical movement to complement a very mentally oriented curriculum.

Summer camp allows kids to rest and rejuvenate from the stress of daily life
Kristen Race, author of Mindful Parenting, “says the fact that stress levels dip in the summer suggests how important summer is to kids’ mental health…‘if you look at teen suicide statistics, stress is one of the things that leads to suicide attempts,’ she says. ‘It’s incredibly important to have the downtime, and it makes sense to have a dramatic shift in the summer.”
This shift is relevant no matter what the summertime activity entails. The simple switch away from deadlines and tests and academic pressure to more hands-on activities can help kids unwind from a packed school year.

Even if they are still attending an academic or mentally challenging summer camp, providing a new framework in which they can operate and think gives them a chance to utilize and strengthen different capacities of the brain. It’s like rotating a workout – summer is equivalent to the off-days for the brain so that the muscle can rebuild itself before the next workout. Replacing academics with relaxing activities and rest through camp or even a modest part-time job helps kids release the tension and stress built up during the year.

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The Benefits of Science and and Technology Summer Camp

adventure camps In February 2014, 60 Minutes hosted a special on three remarkable kids. This blog discusses one of them – Jack Andraka – and his incredible feats in the medical health profession. His success comes from a variety of support systems, many of which speak to the benefits of summer camp.

Camp is Great for Scientific Exploration, but Support Starts at Home
According to the episode, “[Jack’s] parents say he has been obsessed with science since he was a toddler, conducting experiments even as a 3- year-old…his parents tried to keep him engaged by encouraging science projects at home.” The Andrakas maintain that as long as their sons don’t blow up the house, they have free reign over the basement-turned-chemical-lab. Luckily, Jack is working on curing cancer instead of starting chemical fires, but most parents can’t allow their kids such liberties. As an alternative, science and technology camps encourage the same kind of creativity but within a safe infrastructure and under knowledgeable guidance of the teachers and counselors (and from a safe distance from your antique furniture).

Science and Technology Summer Camps Encourage Creativity
In his interview, Jack says, “You can be a genius, but if you don’t have the creativity to put that knowledge to use, then you just have a bunch of knowledge and nothing else.” Our educational system stresses smarts over creativity – multiple choice answers over out-of-the-box thinking. How can you as a parent go beyond the systems at hand to support your child’s creativity? Science and technology summer camps bring talented youth from across North America to play and learn together in a totally unique program. These science camps educate from outside the rigid structure of a classroom, and encourage trial, failure, and creative experimentation to foster the not-so-distant future leaders in science and technology.

Educational Camps for Kids Foster Leadership and Community
The episode highlights Jack’s entrapment between the adult and adolescent world: “And while he now moves in very adult circles [traveling as a guest lecturer at international medical conferences], Jack says when it comes to his future he is just like any other lost teenager…‘I actually have no clue what I want to do when I grow up.’” Often times highly intelligent kids become trapped between the adult world of their intellect and the emotional world of their adolescence. For kids like Jack, science and technology summer camp can create a bridge between these worlds. Camp sharpens their skills while offering a healthy social challenge and support system of an equally talented peer group.

Look up summer camps for kids and teens on Camppage.com for locations all over the world that will support your child’s interests in a social, creative, and challenging environment.

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Contributions Parents Can Make Towards Their Children’s Well-Being

parenting camp staff In part of her series on “Parenting for Success,” Forbes Magazine author Kathy Caprino recently published an article on nine key contributions parents can make towards their children’s personal and social well-being. The article itself is quite informative, and many of the values she outlines can be supported by the activities, staff, and environment unique to summer camp.

  1. Find mentors and ask for help: [Mentors’ guidance] matured [her kids] and helped them think like leaders, and helped them obtain guidance and support outside of their parents.
    Summer camp counselors are ideal mentors – they are youthful enough to relate to kids but old enough to provide meaningful guidance; and they are connected to campers’ experiences as they often attended camp themselves.
  2. Develop a growth mindset: Instead of praising kids for their smarts or looks, affirm variables that are in their control, like hard work, or good strategy or honest words.
    Traditional summer camps for kids are rooted in values like integrity, confidence, and setting and reaching personal and group goals. They integrate challenging activities, working through unfamiliar social constructs, and personal reflection. Camps are implemented in a healthy and supportive environment, so kids see the experience more as fun than as a personal growth experience while they’re actually getting both.
  3. Expand their critical thinking: Have them find challenging news topics that interest them, and determine how to respond.
    Kids don’t always have this flexibility to pursue topics of interest at school, but at summer camp, they can dive into their passions. They can problem solve at computer, arts, or science camps, and even some camps that specifically focus on short-and long-term problem-solving like peace and conflict-resolution camps for kids. Whatever activity they choose, the curriculum is uniquely designed to be far more engaging and challenging than institutional education. Therefore, it’s a great way to shake up kids’ thought patterns in the off-season with creative opportunities for critical thinking.
  4. Actively engage in social gatherings: This builds people and communication skills.
    Although the author is focused on having kids help their parents host home events, summer camp contributes to many of the same skill sets through alternative activities. For example, kids will fine-tune their event planning skills as they venture out on small-group canoe trips. Ropes courses and physically demanding challenges strengthen communication within a group dynamic. And all of the above emphasize personal responsibility to a larger group – an imperative value as kids get older.

Check out more steps for fostering leadership and confidence in Kathy Caprino’s Forbes article.

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How Music Beneficially Correlates with Moods

A recent article posted on healthychildren.org details the many ways in which music beneficially correlates with moods. The article highlights examples like military marches to instill confidence and courage, shopping malls to pump up consumer enthusiasm, and setting lessons to song to encourage stress free memorization in the classroom.

The Calming Influence of Music
The article cites a series of studies that show a correlation between improved emotional stability and mental clarity with listening to music. Similarly, young kids who are still developing their emotional and mental identity are strongly influenced by external factors like music. Introducing music to children, whether by putting an instrument in their hands, taking them to concerts, or enrolling them in a class or summer camp, has been proven to have positive results on their emotional and mental development. Even if your child winds up exchanging her oboe for a paintbrush or Legos, the exposure to various forms of self-expression and influential art forms can offer a long-term benefit for her mental well-being.

Music: the Simplest Remedy
While this article does not go as deeply into evidence and explanations as other sources on this subject, the basic premise is still relevant: a positive correlation between music and the brain as they relate to learning capacity. This article emphasizes music as a backdrop for academic activities like memorization and attention: “Scientific research supports common experience that pairing music with rhythm and pitch enhances learning and recall.” Whether you are looking at the long-term benefits of music exposure, or for short-term support for your child’s ability to focus, music offers a low-cost perk that requires no prescription, diagnosis, or medical fees – just an instrument, a voice, or a Play button.

Music Summer Camps Grab Campers’ Interest through a Variety of Activities
Music summer camp helps campers with reading, listening, and playing skills as well as the chance to make music both independently and socially. The variety of ways to incorporate music into camp allows kids to mix up their attention and try out different points of interest – maybe they’ll swap their piccolo for the electric guitar; or find that they love listening to Bach while they develop photographs. Kids who turn to games or artwork at a traditional summer camp will ultimately be applying similar skills they developed in their music sessions through other mediums. And the kids who are at intensive music summer camps will find opportunities to suit their particular interests – composing, improvisational play, rehearsing for a show with friends, or simply being a part of creating sound as art.

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Summer Camp Counselors Can Provide Guidance for Life’s Next Leap

A recent article on Kidshealth.org
details how parents can support kids as they transition out of high school and into the next phase of adulthood. But parents aren’t the only ones who can help with this. As the article suggests, your teen can reach out to people within his or her network for informational interviews and professional guidance. Summer camp counselors or administrators are fabulous mentors who have known your children, in some cases, for many, many years. Counselors have often helped many teens through vulnerable moments and watched them rise to positions of leadership over the years. They can offer guidance with both a professional and personal insight, and even provide recommendations for schools, jobs, or other programs to which your child is applying.

Summer Camp Can Direct Kids’ Interests from an Early Age
While many kids start with myriad activities at summer camp (or even myriad summer camps over their three-month break), there is a definite trend of older kids returning year after year to the same programs and curricula. Campers will whittle their early interests from baseball, soccer, basketball, tennis, rock climbing, and water polo down to one or two sports. As the campers get older, the programs become more structured and sophisticated, eventually guiding athletes towards club and scholarship opportunities, if they so choose. The same goes for kids who start out with Legos and clay and wind up as engineers and studio artists. Although not all kids will stick with this same interest into adulthood, summer camp helps kids to focus on and cultivate their passions and become open to new possibilities for educational and professional exploration. In addition to these character-sculpting experiences, this article in KidsHealth also highlights that even if kids don’t stick with the same activities into college, their dedication and movement into leadership roles in their fields of interest are impressive points on any college application or entry-level CV.

Independence at Summer Camp Prepares Kids for the Leap into the “Real World”
The article offers advice on how to balance offering guidance with letting go as your kids explore their options for the future. The author addresses issues like self-sufficiency, financial support, and healthy communication. Kids who have attended summer camps will have already encountered many of these conversations as they stepped into more independent opportunities at a young age. Summer camp provides kids with the chance to explore and find their sense of self in a new environment. This is a smaller version of the precipice that many kids stand upon after high school, and it prepares them to face unknown challenges with confidence.

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How Computer Summer Camps Can Break Down Gender Barriers

girls camp computer camps Decreasing the Gender Gap in STEM Fields
Reshma Saujani is the founder of the nonprofit organization Girls Who Code, which is inspiring and educating girls in computing skills in order to close the gender disparity in the computer science field. According to Saujani, only 27% of America’s jobs in the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and math) are held by women. As this sector of the American economy mushrooms, it is becoming increasingly important to get more students – and girls in particular – interested in math and science, whether through schools, or summer camps, or independent organizations like hers. In her December 2013 article in the New York Times, Saujani highlights a few ways in which this sector can generate stronger engagement from girls. Many of her points reflect the benefits of computer and technology summer camps across the country, which can be found at Camppage.com.

Computer Summer Camps Engage Girls Through Personalized Context
Saujani writes, “Studies have shown that girls want to pick careers that enable them to engage with and change the world; and women learn science better when it is taught in their life context, not in a vacuum.” By integrating all of the fun elements of summer camp with the enriching education of computing skills, kids get the opportunity to explore how this path can relate to their own interests. The best computer summer camps offer hands-on experiential education that provide community and an enriching, unique environment for campers to learn and experiment. Specialized instruction combines specific skill development with project-based curricula to give campers context and an ultimate goal.

Creating Important Role Models for Girls and Boys
Saujani brings up another point about the importance of role models, especially as portrayed by the media. “[With] so few female coders in the ‘real world,’ girls just can’t picture themselves growing up to be a programmer, an engineer or a start-up entrepreneur.” This gap points to what is perhaps the most impactful aspect of computer summer camps, or any kind of summer camp for that matter: camp counselors and instructors fill a special niche of mentorship for kids and teens. As counselors, they fall somewhere in between an authority figure and a friend. As instructors, they serve as influential examples of success and leadership in a particular field. So counselors at computer summer camps can fill both of these roles to become powerful role models to break down stereotypes and relate to their campers on a personal level.

Help expand your daughter’s confidence and her personal vision by encouraging her interests in science and technology. You can explore the myriad opportunities for technology and computer summer camps at Camppage.com.

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Summer Camp is an Important Developmental Step for Kids and Parents

parenting art summer camps adventure camps In an article from the Washington Post, Michael Thompson, the author of Homesick and Happy: How Time Away from Parents can Help a Child Grow, is interviewed about the effects of early childhood independence. He purports that, if approached properly, experiences like sleepovers and summer camps have short- and long-term health benefits for the whole family.

Help Kids Build Resilience
In this article, Thompson explains that independent overnight experiences are one of the first big developmental steps that children take. “At some point, all children are going to have to be independent, and a safe place to practice that is camp.” Summer camp is the first experience in many kids’ lives where their victories are theirs alone, Thompson explains. If kids are scared or uncomfortable, they have a communal network of counselors and new friends; but it is ultimately they who must overcome the challenges. Summer camp is a safe and fun opportunity for kids to start building personal and social resilience.

The Lifelong Benefits of Attending Summer Camp
This first step towards independence offers critical skills and experiences that can have long-lasting positive effects. While summer camp still has a great infrastructure of support, it requires kids to leave behind the comforts and familiarities of home. It generates fresh personal and social dynamics and introduces new realms of responsibility for young kids. Furthermore, the summer camp exposes kids to independence while simultaneously introducing them to the challenges and joys of community living. Thompson asserts that the psychological impact that this sort of experience can persevere into adulthood: “When you are in college, discouraged and overwhelmed, does your mother get you through? No. But the experience of being out in a thunderstorm on a hiking trip and knowing you survived — that just might.”

Tips for Preparing Your Family for Summer Camp
Thompson suggests that before you throw your child into a ten-day backpacking excursion, you might ease into the world of overnight separation with a sleepover at a relative’s or close friend’s house. Be sure to address all medical issues up front – medicines, allergies, etc. Talk openly about the possibility of homesickness, and how you will both deal with it. If you are preparing for summer camp, it might be helpful to have a conversation with the administration about their policies on phone calls and writing letters or sending packages. Finally, as a parent, make sure you are tuning into your own emotions. Sending your child away for summer camp or even a sleepover is a difficult new hurdle; so be sure to take this time to focus on yourself and fulfilling your own needs. More information about addressing homesickness and sending care packages can be found on the Camppage.com resource page.

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Girls’ Summer Camps Break Down Barriers

girls camp Rachel Simmons, cofounder of the Girls Leadership Institute and author of “Curse of the Good Girl: Raising Authentic Girls with Confidence and Courage,” provides a picture of the dramatic disparity of girls in leadership positions. In an op-ed article for CNN, Simmons explains that the reason that girls are not occupying the top political positions in schools or in civic representation is due to the way we as a society are raising our young ladies. According to Simmons, girls are “socialized to be likeable, to please others, to not tout their own successes and to speak softly like proper girls. As a result, they face powerful psychological barriers to attaining leadership roles.” Simmons is a strong proponent of girls’ summer camps as a means to shifting this problematic trend. At the Girls Leadership Institute and girls’ summer camps around the world, young women are breaking down their barriers to leadership, confidence, and courage.

Some of the Most Powerful Aspects of Girls’ Summer Camps are Between the Camp Activities
Girls summer camps certainly use an impactful curricula and challenging elements to engage their participants, but it’s not just the ropes courses and theatre productions that draw the campers out of their comfort zones. Simmons’s article states that “organizations such as the Girls Leadership Institute teach girls as young as 5 to express their feelings with friends and how to be assertive.” She challenges our educators to demand the same of its female students. Perhaps they could take a page from the book of girls’ summer camps: when there are 8 to 12 girls sleeping in one room and spending all of their waking hours together, there is a strong need for clear communication and introspection in order to ensure that everyone is comfortable. Additionally, reflections on challenge courses or after disputes necessitate that girls assert themselves and communicate their needs and feelings.

Girls’ Summer Camps Have Inspiring Role Models
As Simmons points out in the article, parental encouragement plays a huge role in a child’s confidence and sense of self. She points to statistics that indicate a significantly higher number of boys encouraged by their mothers to run for office than girls. We base our decisions off of the models around us, so it makes sense that this gender disparity continues. But at girls’ summer camp, young women are surrounded by powerful female role models. They see older, inspiring women in authoritative roles; and they build trust with and receive encouragement from these women. A seemingly simple relationship such as this can have profound impact on a young girl, inspiring her to grow up and become like the leaders she has at camp.

Girls Summer Camp Activities Eliminate Gender Norms
When campers are isolated by gender at summer camps, there is a blurring of social norms. Steering the canoe or carrying the hay for the horses is not seen as the “boys’ job,” and girls are free to act with liberal demeanor without worrying about impressing the opposite sex. They are not too cool to get up on the ropes course, and find themselves less likely to fear falling or making a bad impression in front of the boys. This liberating and supportive environment boosts confidence, courage, and self-assertion – all traits that Simmons says are necessary to bring girls up to social equality.

Camppage provides information on all sorts of summer camp programs all over the US and Canada.

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Sports Summer Camps for Girls

sports summer camp girls camp Parenting.com recently highlighted a study from the Archives of Disease in Childhood, finding that “only 11 percent of girls ages 5 to 8 get the recommended hour a day of physical activity, compared with 42 percent of boys.” According to Dr. Marj Snyder of the Women’s Sports Foundation, this is largely due to two presiding factors: an ongoing gender gap in school PE classes, and curbed confidence due to inadequate encouragement. Sports summer camps for young girls address both of these important issues, ensuring an uplifting and empowering environment geared towards exposure to the greatest joys of an athletically-rich lifestyle.

Sports Summer Camps are a Great Way for Parents to Encourage their Young Girls

Article author Laura Sullivan suggested that even if parents don’t play the sport that their daughter is interested in, this gap shouldn’t deter their level of encouragement and enthusiasm. They can help her find the ideal tennis camp or general sports camp that suits their daughter’s skill level and the family’s schedule. This gesture, in conjunction with an affirmative attitude towards her athletic endeavors, will lay an important foundation in her pursuit of a sport she loves.

Girls’ Sports Summer Camps Introduce A Variety of Sports During an Important Window of Time
According to the article, Dr. Snyder explains that girls enter sports later and leave more quickly than their male peers. Therefore, it is all the more important to introduce a variety of options during that window of time. Sports summer camps are ideal such introductions to multiple sports as well as for expanding that window by hooking girls’ interest. A dynamic curriculum in a supportive atmosphere with new friends creates the perfect set of circumstances for engaging girls on a long-term commitment to both sports and the summer camp experience.

Girls’ Sports Summer Camps Emphasize Confidence and Character
Lastly, girls’ summer camps are structured around building many of the important aspects of a young girl’s character that are often trodden on by other social influences – confidence, leadership, self-assertion, and the like. Today’s young women need a safe space where they develop these imperative pieces of their identities. By using sports as a vehicle, these campers are provided the same opportunities and personal challenges as the boys. Sports summer camps help girls not only meet their needs in the areas of physical health, but in their emotional and social health as well.

Camppage provides information on all sorts of summer camp programs all over the US and Canada.

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