Is Camp Fun?
Ask just about anybody that question, and they’ll agree that camp is one of the most enjoyable ways for kids to spend the summer. Indeed, camp has a proud 150 year history, and one of the reasons it’s still around today–with its unique songs, activities, and adventures–is because it’s just so much FUN.
Here at Everwood, while we’re faithful to the traditions of past camps, we’re also child development professionals, who understand that today’s kids are living in a more complex world. As such, our mission cannot be to simply provide a fun space for our kids to pass the time, we must also provide an engaging place that prepares them for the future.
Lucky for our campers, creating a summer experience that’s more than just fun still begins–and ends–with ensuring that they’ll have a blast every day at camp. But we’re also putting that fun to work, by using it to prime the gears of our campers’ imagination, and to fuel them through a summer of skill development.
In doing so, we’re also challenging the answer to another question:
What’s the most enriching way for kids to spend the summer?
For most folks who are asked this, chances are good that camp isn’t the first word that comes to mind. And if it is, there’s almost always another word modifying it: math, science, computer camp–programs that focus on narrow skills (and programs that often treat fun as an afterthought). These specialized, summer “enrichment” activities, however, are quite popular these days, and we certainly understand their allure. After all, the world is more competitive than ever, and isn’t focusing a child’s energy on honing specific skills a sure way to make them stand out, and set them up for future success?
Conventional wisdom might say yes, but times are also changing at an unconventional pace. And while the dust is long from settled, it’s clear to us that our kids will not be able to maneuver through the world on the mastery of narrow skills alone. In fact, many of our nation’s leading employers and institutions support our claim (and contradict the aims of these other enrichment programs). They’re recommending our children learn to excel in a very different set of competencies in order to thrive. And while these attributes are referred to by many names–non-cognitive or 21st century skills, personality traits or executive functions–what it comes down to is this:
If you’re angling to raise a kid who looks good on paper, and knows a lot about a particular thing, then maybe a traditional “enrichment” program is the right fit. But if you want to prepare your children for a competitive world–for admissions, scholarships, and job placements–then you’re going to have to prepare them to be extraordinary people.
You wouldn’t necessarily expect your son or daughter to return from science camp as a more compassionate friend, a better teammate, or a stronger leader, but these are reasonable expectations after a summer spent with us. Everwood is a place where campers practice many of the interpersonal skills–like communication and collaboration–that traditional schooling simply doesn’t have enough time for. The strides our campers make while at Everwood may surprise parents at first, but they soon learn to anticipate nothing less. That’s because great things happen when we give our kids a break from the memorization of facts and figures, and focus our attention on the kind of people they’re becoming.
It’s also why we spend so much time challenging, modeling, and acknowledging when our campers demonstrate character. We love catching our kids in even small acts of kindness–like when they let a new camper into their circle. Because we know that these little moments are actually a much bigger deal, and when we identify and reflect on them, doing the right thing becomes just that much more contagious for our campers.
THIS is how we teach at Everwood. Not by simple skill building, but by teaching transferable skills. The kind our children will use to contribute to communities beyond our campus, and rely on to navigate a changing world. Existing enrichment programs simply don’t do this enough.
So we’re redefining summer enrichment…
…and building a new way forward for our campers. Summertime isn’t just about rote learning, or extending the school year, it’s about having fun while engaging in an environment that will support growth in skills that are applicable long after the summer is over. This is the kind of meaningful, lasting enrichment that sets our children on the path to fulfilling their full potential. This is the kind of enrichment that only the summer camp experience is able to provide. This is Everwood Day Camp.