Now that you have a teenager, summers are different. They can be left alone. They can ride their bike to the pool. Some can even drive there. Some have jobs. Some take extra classes to get ahead or look for professional programs to get a leg up. Let’s just not forget one thing. They have a whole lifetime that they can do all those things. One thing that doesn’t last forever? Camp. Here’s why you shouldn’t rule it out for your teen.
- Camp is not just for little kids. A summer program for teens is designed with age-appropriate activities based on the foundation of it being a teen community.
- Nature is for everyone. When we help our teens enjoy, respect, and learn from the outdoors we create well-rounded adults and future advocates for the environment.
- Music and dance are a healthy outlet. Midterms. Finals. The playoffs. The ACT. Teens know stress. We need to make sure they know great, easy ways to relieve it, too.
- It’s still easy being a beginner. At some point in adulthood we become specialists—in our work, our exercise, even our hobbies—and shy away from trying new things. Adolescence is a great time to try ceramics or gardening, Krav Maga or photography risk-free.
- Leaders are born at camp. Whether it’s running a program, captaining a Maccabia team, or guiding peers through the woods, camp is full of safe ways to try out leadership.
- Responsibility isn’t just taught with chores. From keeping their bunk clean to running camp for the day to developing a commitment to social responsibility and social change, camp is a safe place to learn about being accountable to oneself and others.
- Unplugging recharges them for the real world. Technology helps us in so many ways, but taking a break from it does too. Four weeks without wifi enhances mindfulness, strengthens relationships, and frees teens up to be themselves.
- It’s the perfect time for a trial run. That big, formal leap out of the nest isn’t far off. Spending three weeks in a summer program is a great way to build up to it, from saying bye to parents, to meeting new people, to taking care of themselves.
- Things are about to get pretty serious. Once college rolls around, summers will be devoted to internships or studies or real jobs (or working at camp). We don’t need to rush them into these adult responsibilities just yet.
- Our Jewish identity is a complex, fragile thing. Whether our kids grow up in a vibrant or non-existent Jewish community, a summer program that exposes them to other ways of being, doing, thinking, and living Jewish, will help them solidify and strengthen their own Jewish identity.