Unexpected Benefits of Summer Camp

"Everything I ever needed to know to succeed in life, I learned at summer camp."

The greatest gift my parents ever gave me was the privilege of summer camp — a tradition we’ve passed on to my children. At camp I learned to water ski, sail, canoe and horseback ride. I can make a killer lanyard key chain or beaded necklace. But these are just the things that you DO at camp. It’s what happens in between all of these activities that make camp so special.

Here are 5 things you learn at camp that stay with you for a lifetime.


It goes without saying, but at camp you’re not only away from your parents, you’re away from electronics, from your school friends, from the conveniences of home. Yet you learn through the deepest of interpersonal skills that you are capable of figuring out just about anything on your own.


Camp is where you learn to laugh and dance like no one is watching. You also try things that you never would anywhere else. The camp aura gives you a boost of confidence to step out of your comfort zone. There is no judgment and the staff is there to ensure that your child comes home a stronger individual than when they left.

The importance of connection and tradition

When you are away with the same people summer after summer, something incredible happens. You build upon your experiences with each other, often connecting back to the past and build moments that you learn to look forward to. In my adult life this has helped me form the experiences we have with our children, year after year in our own home.

Contentment with yourself

When I think back to camp, it was where I learned to just BE. With myself, with others, with nature. Some of my most favorite memories from camp are simply hanging out on the porch, the cabin or the beach, laughing. You realize that all the STUFF just DOESN’T MATTER.

The importance of friendship

True friendship. Camp is where you learn HOW to make friends. You learn how to resolve conflict without your parents stepping in, and after living with the same kids for four or eight weeks, you come home being able to recognize the meaning of true friendship. Giving your child a break from their everyday and the chance to make new friends on their own is a life skill you can’t get anywhere else — and one that will serve them forever.

I cry when I put my kids on the camp bus each year because I know what lies ahead on the other end of their ride. I know that the weeks spent at summer camp will be some of the best in their entire life. And also, I cry because I wish that I could go, too.

Lindsay Pinchuk is a suburban Chicago mom of two girls and an award-winning community builder and entrepreneur who is working to help small businesses thrive.

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