According to a recent Huffington Post article, author Todd Kestin claims that summer camp is one of the most important life experiences a child can have, as he or she learns to choose good friends and make decisions for his or her life. In addition, Kestin argues that summer camp gives kids the confidence needed to pursue their dreams. What parent wouldn’t want that?

As a summer camp director, I would add that the experience also gives students the opportunity to develop pivotal skills for academic and career success. Students who attend summer camp have the opportunity to develop life skills apart from parental supervision that benefit them in and out of the classroom, including learning how to lead others, how to step outside of their comfort zone and how to diligently work towards success in spite of everyday challenges. Here are a few skills we have seen summer campers develop that help them to be better students year-round!

Summer campers build confidence

According to a study of 1,000 parents by the American Camping Association, on a scale of one to five (with five meaning that parents strongly agreed), parents gave the statement “my child felt successful at camp” an average score of 4.63. This is an incredible testament to the value of the opportunities young campers find during the summer! Campers have the opportunity to try new things each and every day. As a result, children are affirmed in their strengths and positively challenged in other areas. They conclude the summer with a newfound confidence that impacts their study habits and willingness to volunteer in class, and they feel more prepared for new experiences in academics, sports and other extracurricular activities.

Summer campers lead and serve

Summer camp provides the opportunity to practice the ultimate leadership quality: putting others ahead of oneself! Each day, campers are given opportunities to step up and serve those around them. Whether it is by cleaning the cabin alongside their bunk mates or encouraging a friend while they navigate the treetops on a ropes course, summer campers learn the value of leading and encouraging one another with kind words and a thoughtful attitude. With the emphasis on anti-bullying programs in schools today, a strong sense of community goes a long way.

Summer campers value diligence

An important skill summer camp hones that applies strongly throughout the school year is creating a day-to-day schedule and sticking to it! While each summer camp may differ slightly, most camps offer a form of routine, encouraging campers to be diligent in their schedules and responsibilities.

At Kanakuk, Kampers participate in “honor cabin” every morning, working together to do things like make their bunks, organize their clothes, sweep, clean and more. By giving campers

personal responsibilities and assignments, they recognize the importance of teamwork and follow-through, skills critical to classroom success.

Summer campers often enter the school year with a new perspective – one that pushes them to try new things, put others ahead of themselves and work hard to reach their full potential. These skills often equate to improved schoolwork, commitment to sports and extracurricular activities and provide a basis to excel in tough situations. As directors, we believe these experiences allow campers to fully develop their future, whatever it may hold.


Collin Sparks is the director of Kanakuk’s K-Kountry summer camp for youth ages 7-11.


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