Summer camps keep the kids happy and healthy

A study shows youth make gains in several aspects of development through summer camps

The lazy days of summer are fast approaching, and it’s time for parents to search for ways to get their kids away from their cell phones while also participating in some healthy fitness and socializing.

Summer camps offer structured ways for youth to get outside and discover new activities or hone their skills in an already-loved sport.

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Studies support that attending summer camp can be good for kids.

The University of Waterloo’s Canadian  Summer  Camp  Research  Project found several significant benefits to attending camps.

Through interviews with Canadian camp directors, the study found that campers experienced  benefits in social integration and citizenship; environmental  awareness; self-confidence  and personal development;  emotional  intelligence, and attitudes toward physical activity.

Interestingly, while campers showed an overall positive outcome in all five areas, the gender of the camper seemed to have a noted impact on certain outcomes from camp.

Males had “more positive attitudes towards physical activity and showed a greater increase in their attitudes by the end of the session,” the study reads, noting that girls showed a significantly greater increase in their scores in social integration.

Mayor Karen Elliott previously told The Chief she credits going to summer camp with her interest in the outdoors and even with choosing Squamish to live.

“If it hadn’t been for summer camp, I never would have learned to appreciate the great outdoors, and how to backpack and go on canoe trips. I would never have learned any of that from my family,” she told The Chief in 2017.

“Without summer camp I likely wouldn’t be living in Squamish now. I would likely be in some urban environment.

The Sea-to-Sky Corridor is full of options for outdoor recreation, and there are so many options for fun summer camps.

At Camp Summit, located on Squamish Valley Road, campers participate in camp-based activities such as arts and crafts, archery, mountain biking, swimming and climbing on the climbing wall. There are leadership camps for older campers that involve multi-day canoeing or hiking trips and first aid and outdoor skills training.

The non-profit Evans Lake Forest Education Society puts on a full summer camp program every year at its remote location at Evans Lake surrounded by 240 hectares of forest and ten kilometers of hiking trails.

The camp is hosting an open house event on June 23, where families can try out activities and meet staff.

Right in town, there are a range of summer camps on offer from the Squamish trampoline centre Airhouse.

July and August are packed with options for toddlers to teens to learn trampoline, skateboard and mountain biking skills. Combo camps mix all three as well as time on the indoor climbing wall.

If a child is more of a water baby, the Squamish Yacht Club Summer Camp might be a better choice.

Get your young sailor-to-be out on the water with one of Squamish Sailing Club’s sailing and kayak summer sessions.

Back on land, youth from ages 8 to 12 can learn hiking, rock climbing, and mountain safety skills at Mountain Skills Academy’s Mountain Adventure Camps. In full day or three-day sessions, kids are guided through outdoor adventures around Squamish and Whistler, where they will explore nature and learn new skills as well.

For the bikers in the family, Squamish Off-Road Cycling Association is a great group to check in with to see what is available as summer break gets closer.

If a child is more obsessed with skiing, Momentum Ski Camps in Whistler might be an option for kids nine-years-old and up.

A wide range of jumps and lots of terrain are available for practicing tricks; but not only that, world-class instructors make this camp stand out.

“We’ve got a lot of the top skiers in the world who do our coaching,” said owner John Smart. “We bring in the best skiers each year. That’s our formula.”

July 9 to 16 is Girls Week, with more female instructors and female-focused training and activities. There is a scholarship available, too.

Further afield, there is a truly special experience for the young horse-lover, at the Mountain Horse School in Pemberton, which offers multi-day summer kids camps for immersive “experiential learning” with four-legged friends.

Kids take part in greeting, catching, leading, grooming and tacking up horses, in small groups where kids can learn new skills and confidence.

As well as working with the horses, kids will spend time creating art and participating in wildcrafting and foraging activities.

Whatever the camp, kids are sure to gain from the exercise and fun of spending time with old and new friends in the count down to back to school.

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