Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Boy Scout Summer Camp: The Benefits Every Parent Should Know

Picture this:

  • Boys jumping into a cool lake on a hot day
  • An archery bow stretched tight and aimed at a bull’s-eye 30 feet away
  • Hikers on a brush-laden trail stopping to admire a spider forming its web in a tree
  • Patrols challenging each other to a friendly game of volleyball
  • Scouts cooking a meal over an open campfire
These are the images of Boy Scouts at summer camp. However camp provides much more than just outdoor adventure. Hidden within the camp adventure lie the true benefits of a boy’s week at camp.

Harris Interactive of New York designed a study on the impact of summer camp in the lives of Boy Scouts, Scout leaders, and parents of Scouts. The researchers concluded that within the typical six days of Boy Scout summer camp, boys are in an environment that comprehensively provides them with critical elements of healthy youth development.

Camps are removed from the hustle and bustle world of mass information, media, and technology. This type of “protected environment” provides a significant opportunity for growth among young men. Time seems to take on a different meaning when the day is not filled with television, radio, video games, and visits to malls. This is the starting place for change.

At camp, boys have time to consider and reflect on their place in life. Strong personal values and character are shaped as young boys are encouraged to take a part in decisions that impact others, contemplate their relationship with God, reflect on personal values, and participate in patriotic activities regarding American citizenship.

Since its beginning in 1910, the Boy Scouts of America has believed in personal growth through service.

At camp, boys gain a positive sense of self-worth and usefulness through serving others. Majorities of boys serve their peers at camp through helping clean up campsites, helping clean up after meals, and serving food.

A majority of boys at camp receive praise from others. Compliments are received from adult leaders (76 percent) and peers (72 percent). Another key finding is that 78 percent of boys indicate that they “accomplished something worthwhile” during camp.

Scout camp is a place where caring and nurturing relationships are developed and deepened. According to the study, most Scouts made a new friend or became better friends with someone while at camp. In this environment, friendships don’t stop at the peer level. Adult leaders develop respect and trust among Scouts as they mentor skills and share knowledge. Also, many boys mention that they talk with an adult leader for advice during camp.

Young boys seldom consider “school learning” to be exciting. Learning at Scout camp is a different story! Summer camp is an outdoor classroom in which boys test themselves. They test their skills, as well as their courage to try new things.

Learning alone is not enough to engage young boys. It has to be challenging and fun. Majorities of boys say they feel challenged (69 percent) and test their mental/thinking abilities (71 percent) while at camp.

Scouts are productive and creative at camp. Young boys are motivated by the concept of mastery. It is the basis for what has driven the extreme popularity of video games .When coupled with learning useful life skills, this need results in truly productive outcomes. Almost all Scouts “work with others on a badge or task” (88 percent) or “complete a merit badge” (83 percent) at camp.

Camps are structured to encourage boys to spend time working and playing socially in ways that may seldom happen outside of camp. Majorities of Scouts collaborate with other youth on accomplishments (73 percent), participate in group decision making and activities (64 percent), and help resolve interpersonal conflicts (53 percent).

Parents see the difference Scout camp makes. A clear majority (81 percent) of parents of Scouts who attend camp say the camp experience resulted in a positive change in their sons. They agree their sons have fun, are safe, and learn and test new skills.

Moreover, a clear majority of parents (84 percent) say their son learned personal responsibility while at camp. For these reasons, almost all parents (96 percent) would recommend camp to others.

Make sure your Boy Scout does not miss the opportunities of Scout summer camp. Contact us to get dates and registration information for the summer camp programs at Camp Minsi. The “hidden value” of Scout camp will benefit your son for a lifetime!

Data source: Boy Scouts of America Summer Camp Outcomes Study

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