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The years of a child’s youth are fleeting — yet they’re filled with milestone moments: first steps, first days of school, first sports games. There’s also first summer-camp experiences.

While your kids are growing up before your eyes, it’s important to provide them with opportunities to learn, develop, and, of course, have fun. Summer Camps at Life Time give kids a chance to experience new things, meet new friends, and get inspired to stay active and step out of their comfort zones with various sports, games, and activities.

“Dropping your child off for their first day of summer camp can be an emotional and intimidating experience for both the parent and the child,” says Samantha Stark, senior director of programs for Life Time Kids and Aquatics. “But I have witnessed firsthand those timid, first-time campers blossom throughout the summer — and some in only a matter of minutes!”

Stark shares five benefits that kids can reap while attending Summer Camp at Life Time. They can carry any of these learnings with them as they head back to school in the fall — and into the long term as they continue to grow.

Benefit No. 1: Gain independence

Putting your child in a new environment, with new people and a new routine, empowers them to learn how to be more independent. “In school, for example, a child’s schedule and setting are established,” says Stark. “In camp, they have opportunities to choose their activities and interact with new people.”

Kids may have additional responsibilities too, such as keeping track of their belongings and potentially remembering to bring their lunch or other special needs for the day. These undertakings, even though they may seem small, can help children exercise their independence. “While self-sufficiency is something we as parents often both want and fear for our children, it’s an essential life skill and important for them to cultivate it,” says Stark.

Benefit No. 2: Learn leadership and team-building skills

Throughout the day, as campers spend time in their camp group, they encounter natural leadership and collaboration opportunities. “To foster these positive behaviors, we intentionally include weekly team-building activities into our camp program that can help even the most introverted campers gain confidence and define their role in a group setting,” says Stark.

For example, each day typically starts with a “pep rally,” which includes challenges and ice breakers. The campers are divided into small groups and work together through a variety of activities. The group’s counselor serves as a facilitator and empowers the campers to find solutions together.

Even simple gym games can provide an opportunity for kids to step into certain roles. “A great example of this is during rock climbing,” explains Stark. “A camper who may have mastered climbing a specific route has the opportunity to coach their fellow campers on how they can best accomplish the climb.”

Fellow campers also nominate a “camper of the week,” providing feedback on who exhibited positive qualities throughout the week and deserves to be honored. This exercise reinforces productive behaviors and supports a team atmosphere as campers cheer on each other to be their best.

Benefit No. 3: Explore new interests

From educational activities to sports to arts and crafts, camps offer a variety of activities for children to do, allowing them to explore pursuits they may not have had a chance to try before.

As part of Life Time’s Summer Camps, kids get to choose two electives a week, including offerings such as fitness classes, offline coding, athletic-skill building, and engineering (specific electives vary by club location).

“One of the newer features we’ve included as an option in our Summer Camps are swim lessons and swim team,” explains Stark. “We’ve seen campers who previously had no interest in formal or competitive swimming become so excited about this that they’ve gone on to join our swim team that takes place outside of camp.”

Depending on the club location, campers may also see special guests at camp and head out on weekly field trips. These additions introduce campers to an even larger range of new things to try.

Benefit No. 4: Build new friendships

Perhaps one of the best benefits of camp is the chance to meet new people and make new friends. At Life Time, campers can come for a few days or a few weeks, or choose to participate for the full summer and really forge new bonds.

“The ever-changing number of kiddos walking through the door makes the opportunity to meet new friends a daily occurrence,” says Stark. “The camp environment also supports the growth of these friendships through team-building activities and continuous opportunities for social interaction.”

Benefit No. 5: Remain active and engaged

At the start of the summer, excitement is often at an all-time high: Kids are thrilled to be out of school and filled with loads of energy. As the summer goes on, however, it’s common for many kids to opt for lounging in front of the TV or with a tablet rather than playing outside and being active.

“Our camp programming is designed to keep kids active and engaged,” says Stark. “We pack the days with planned activities, so campers are moving and exploring all day long. And we keep things fresh so that even if a child is with us for a full summer, that excitement doesn’t fade.”

Stark refers to this as, “fitness cleverly disguised as fun.” “Through games and sports, kids don’t always realize the benefits their bodies are reaping from a specific activity because they are so engaged and having such a blast,” she says.

Callie Chase
Callie Fredrickson

Callie Fredrickson is a content editor at Life Time.

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