athletes at overnight sports camp enjoying a dance party with hula hoops on the beach in FL

How Sleepaway Camp Helps Kids Build Social Skills

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We know overnight sports camp is filled with fun, activities, and adventure; what else can campers expect to walk away with from a week at resident camp? Well, we can tell you firsthand how much growth & confidence we see our campers develop in just one week. Camp is an exciting experience for children and teens: they gain independence, make lasting friendships, and step outside their social comfort zone. Most importantly, the combination of each element that a camp experience brings drastically helps children and teens build strong social skills; here’s how: 

Get Outside of Your Comfort Zone

Everyone checking into the first day of camp is in the same position: a mixture of excitement and nervousness. We are all in the same position: unfamiliar places, new counselors, and embarking on the daunting opportunity to make new friends. But when everyone is out of their comfort zone, the social magic happens. 

Boys socializing at overnight sports camp

With the help of counselors intentionally mixing campers and breaking the ice, suddenly making friends becomes extremely natural. Campers realize they have a lot more in common than they thought, dorms start to feel like home within a few hours of getting the lay of the land, and your counselors soon become the coolest role models who are there to spend time with you. With these elements coming together in a few short hours, campers notice their comfort zones start to expand. And by putting yourself in that situation, getting through it, and coming out on the other side secure, your confidence expands for other situations that are outside of your comfort zone. 

Become “Miss (or Mr) Independent” 

It goes without saying that being at camp means that we are away from our parents, who are traditionally there to help us navigate daily challenges. Whether that’s help with daily chores or being there for us when we are hurt by a social situation at school, parents are there every step of the way. That is why we love our parents, of course! However, there will always come that time when the bird flies away from the nest, whether that’s college, a trip, or maybe a boarding school. 

Overnight camp offers children and teens the opportunity to feel that independence in a short stint (typically 5 days/4 nights to start) and be in a community where staff is trained to help campers navigate and self-soothe with challenging situations. A challenging situation might be homesickness, maybe feeling left out by a group of friends, or saying something you didn’t mean. Camp Counselors are well-versed in just about every situation that arises in a typical week of camp (all of that included) and balance a supportive yet independent environment as a child or teen navigates through the waters. Like with our comfort zone, the more practice we get in independence and self-soothing, the more our independence grows outside of the camp experience. 

Resiliency is the Best Medicine 

We all know what resiliency (or lack thereof) looks like, especially with kids. At overnight summer camp, all regular routines, familiarity, and comfort go out the window. You’re now on a camp schedule, going with the flow and trusting your coaches and directing staff (and a lot of time, they are right; you’re going to have a blast!). There will be times when you lose in a game or are asked to participate in an unfamiliar activity. Campers push through each and every time. 

Campers pose for a photo with the overnight sports camp director while enjoying water activities

Lose in dodgeball? We will get the next one. Haven’t gone on a hike before? Maybe that’ll be a new hobby you take home. Maybe you won’t like something, but you’ll still get through it. We will overcome setbacks as a team and as a camp community. You’ll have your friends and counselors around you the whole way- showing you exactly what resiliency looks like. And, you guessed it, just like getting out of our comfort zone and establishing the independence that camp brings, you walk out of camp a little more flexible and resilient… all traits you get to bring home. 

Sleepaway camp is the perfect place for kids to grow their social skills, especially their independence, leadership, and resiliency. The skills gained from a Resident Camp experience are those that someone brings to sports teams, the classroom, college, and the workplace. Ready to give your child the gift of growth and confidence? Explore our exciting camp locations and register today to kick-start their journey toward success!

A group of young male lacrosse players engaged in a game on a field overlooking the water in Florida
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