Five Reasons Great Parents Send Their Kids to Camp

Five Reasons Great Parents Send Their Kids To Camp2My shy, quiet nine-year-old went to camp not knowing a soul. Two weeks later, she came home transformed.  She blossomed. She made friends, learned a multitude of activities, felt safe, loved, confident, and happy — really, really happy.  As hard as it was on me, it was all worth it for her. It was the single best thing I have ever done for her.

-First-time camp parent

Many parents won’t allow their child to go on a school field trip or school outdoor education trip unless they are chaperoning, so it’s no surprise that those same parents may find the idea of sending their child to sleep-away camp incomprehensible.  As a camp parent, you may get a shocked response from one of these “non-camp” parents. They may ask you things like, “How can you stand having your child away from you for so long?” or, “How will she survive without you?” or,  “Isn’t he too young to go to camp alone?”  Or, they may comment, “I would never send my child away to camp for two weeks.” In all of these negative responses, there is an underlying criticism of your parenting.

If you find yourself in the awkward position of being criticized for the decision to send your young child to camp, you may want some extra “ammunition” to defend your decision.  And, if you are never in the position of defending your camp decision, let this list remind you about just a few of the many reasons why you are being a great parent by sending your child to camp!

At camp this summer, your child will…

Develop Independence

Going to camp has made me even more independent and a much better people-person. I am
able to go confidently up to someone 
and introduce myself, or hang out with someone new because of my time at camp.
-Five year camper

Su-C1-0888You are giving your child the opportunity to live and thrive without being with you and under your constant scrutiny.  The growth in confidence and independence happen at camp BECAUSE you are not there.   Read more about why camp experiences help kids develop independence in Parking Your Helicopter.

Experience Outdoor Childhood Fun & Adventure

sailing-7988You are giving your child the gift of magical childhood memories – dirt, adventure, story, and joke-filled days and nights spent with friends outdoors, under the stars, and around the campfire.  These childhood memories will last forever. And, as Michael Thompson, PhD. so eloquently states, “Our best childhood memories do not include adults.”


canoeing-8872You are giving your child a break from the pressures and stress of competitive sports, school, and you.  Forgive me if that offends, but I, too, am a well-meaning but over-involved parent who provides just a bit too much advice, feedback, and guidance to my children. Our kids need a break from our well-intentioned involvement in their lives.

Get Unplugged

Camp has helped me appreciate nature and the outdoors a lot more than I think I would have if I didn’t go. I can go without my phone or connection to social media awhile, because camp has shown me that amazing stuff happens when you put your phone down and have a nice conversation with someone.

-five year camper

bears-adventure-3659You are giving your child the chance to unplug and connect face-to-face with other kids and positive young adult role models. Getting unplugged is one of my favorite topics, so you can read more at Five Reasons to Unplug and Get Unplugged to learn about the many benefits of taking a break from technology.

Become Better At Making And Keeping Friends

 I feel like I have become a kinder person and am better at making friends because of camp.

-third year camper

Su-0726The bonding and friendships that happen at camp are different from those that occur at school and on sports teams. The intensity of living together and experiencing life together, without distractions, creates the ideal setting to form life-long friendships and really get to know people well. Read more about camp friendships in Friends: Finding Gold in a Plastic Era.

So, if people ever question your decision to send your young child to a traditional, longer camp stay this summer, let them know that it’s hard for you to let your child go, but that you’re giving your child a gift that will have more impact than any material item you’ve ever given.

5 Reasons Great Parents Send their Kids to Camp


Want to read more about the many benefits of camp?

Five (MORE) Reasons Great Parents Send Their Kids to Camp

Why Kids Flourish at Camp (Sunshine Parenting)

Campers’ quotes about how their camp experiences have influenced them (Gold Arrow Camp blog)


I'm blessed to have five great kids (ages 13-23) call me “Mom.” As a summer camp director for the past 30 years, I've also had the privilege of working with thousands of kids, college-age counselors, and parents. I follow the latest research and trends on parenting, education, and children’s development and love to share what I learn!

  1. How do you make your child want to go to camp? We tried a 2 day camp and my grandchild begged not to go the 2nd day and I gave in.

    1. Hi Betty, It’s certainly hard (impossible??) to “make” a child want to do anything they think they don’t/won’t like, especially if they have a rough start. First of all, I’d encourage you to have your grandchild be part of the process of selecting a camp, so that you find a camp with activities that suit his/her interests. The American Camp Association has some good resources, including “How to Choose a Camp”: Depending on how old your grandchild is, having a conversation with him/her about the benefits of camp and why you think it would be a great growth experience for him/her is another approach. I like to be upfront with kids and talk with them about how some things in life are both hard AND good for them. Michael Thompson’s book Homesick and Happy is such a great book about how, even (and maybe especially) kids who are homesick can grow and benefit so much from camp. I wrote Messages for an Anxious Camper as a guide to talk with a reluctant camper. Maybe that can help get your grandchild on board with giving camp another try? I hope so!

  2. My first camp experience was not a great one. The cabin wasn’t a match and for better or worse I wasn’t a fan. So I tried another camp because my parents pushed. I ended up back at my previous camp years later. I volunteered there and became a camp counselor there too. Not all kids are ready to be at camp when they go but I strongly believe if you picked a camp that met their interests, they will be fine. Camp is one of those experiences I think about all the time and I miss a lot. Camp let me find myself and improve myself. I spent over 10 summers at one camp and they were the best times of my life.

    1. I, too, had a painful first camp experience and, looking at what I do today (summer camp director), I’m so glad I gave it another try! It’s so hard to try again at something that’s been hard for us, but that’s how we (and our kids) grow!

  3. My son started as a camper & loved going every year. He has now become a CILT for the last 2 years & hopefully this year as well! I highly recommend this camp to all children. My son will have awesome life long positive memories of his time at Ravencliff!

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