A summer camp experience unveils a hidden strength: Emotional intelligence. Although it was obvious it did not get the attention it deserves when talking about the impact a summer camp can have in a teenagers life.
Emotional intelligence refers to an ability to recognize the meanings of emotion and their relationships, and to reason and problem-solve on the basis of them. Emotional intelligence is involved in the capacity to perceive emotions, assimilate emotion-related feelings, understand the information of those emotions, and manage them.
How can a summer camp contribute to the awakening of this emotional intelligence?
The keypoints can be resumed as follows:
Summer Camps are free of the demands of curriculum and academic testing so that staff can focus on values which form part of the emotional intelligence.
Often strong competition is set up in classrooms to make it possible to follow the curriculum so that caring for classmates has no room in this daily struggle to achieve good results. Finally the reward goes to the most aggressive peers who want to win at all costs. A summer camp is free of achivieving ambitious results. The value of cooperation and teamwork has priority. The teenagers practice listening, sharing and pacience which in real life is neglected most of the time because of other imminent concerns.
The pace in a teenage summer camp slows down considerably. The young person is the central figure, sharing the attention, which is deeply human, enhancing their quality of life, which becomes healthier and is made happier.
Children away from home, with new friends and the new challenges of the teen summer camp can learn much about themselves, their own strengths, and abilities. Perhaps the canoe doesn’t head where it should at first, or a roommate is unwilling to be friendly. Away from the familiarity of home and school, campers can test their own perseverance, and, with caring and thoughtful help, build new life skills for themselves. Meeting these challenges brings true self-esteem, the kind that is earned, not empty words. Talking about self-esteem or trying to bolster it in kids does not work without real challenge in safe and supportive communities.
Camp counsellors can be wonderful role models for campers. When children find adult friends at camp who model perseverance, listening, teamwork, and appreciation of differences, they set new and high standards for their own behaviour. When they feel appreciated and valued by these friends, they are surer of their ability to live happily away from home. Successful camp summers can help smooth the transition to college in later years.
Camp is a key opportunity for growth, both for children who thrive at school and for those who struggle. Talented students develop their abilities to cooperate and share in a community where they don’t worry about grades and academic competition. Children whose school lives are difficult find real rewards in new opportunities to shine. Having a chance to practice being a leader may be a rare experience for them indeed!
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