Family 411- Kids benefit from a good summer camp experience

Lu Ann-family 411 summer camp1.jpg

Fourteen million kids in the United States head to day and over-night camps each summer. At Marmon Valley in Logan County, children get a camp experience that directors said gives them an advantage in school and their life ahead.

Ten year old Grayson Irwin said learning to ride a horse at the camp gives her self-confidence and a sense of pride. For some kids, camp allows them to do something they were afraid to at first.

“I like meeting new friends and the cool counselors here, and getting to know horses. You get to be around the horses a lot. And it is fun being with other girls for me and the cabins,” said Irwin.

Camp is a community away from home and school where children can learn to work together with mentors and build relationships. Coleman Klecker said he will stay at camp for three weeks. “It has been good because I have been making a lot of friends.”

Marmon Valley Camp Director Matt Wiley said children treasure their first-time experiences there. Wiley said kids have the opportunity to focus on other things besides the digital world. “They getting a chance to disconnect for a week or so at camp and not have all the electronic devices and all that and do more eye to eye contact, it’s really important.”

Klecker said when he is at home he hangs out with his brother, and they are likely to gravitate to screen time. “We play video games and stuff like that at home. Here it is fun because you get to swim in a lake, and do activities like archery and stuff.”

Parents said they worry their children will get homesick at camp. Kids said they work it out with a little help. “Your parents can send you like letters and emails. And I cherish those and read them to help me think about my parents and my sisters,” said Irwin.

“The dining room is a pretty noisy place at times. That is for sure. Just to hear that communication. I had to get two boys to focus on their food the other day because they were talking so much,” said Wiley.

Physical activity is critical to kids and at camp they are likely to get lots of it. “We climb a hill for our camp fire time. But also doing some of the outdoor sports. Or climbing wall. We have a challenge course where they do team building,” said Wiley.

The director said parents should talk with other families about their experiences at a camp. Wiley said check memberships and camp accreditation. “Sometimes asking what staff go through in a background check, or of course in their interviews and things like that. We spend two weeks in staff training. It is great for parents to ask those tough questions to find out where their child is going and how many years the camp has been going. Ask if they have a nurse on site. There are a lot of good critical questions parents should ask to check the camp out.”

Wiley said children grow both physically and emotionally at summer camp. “It’s neat to help them take those baby steps at camp to prepare to be on their own, whether it’s at school , or a job and things like that. So it’s neat to develop those skills, where they can be more independent.”