Teamwork, collaboration, and independence. Many of the same skills are taught in schools and summer camps, but how can schools be more effective in teaching these skills to kids? How can schools get the appeal that summer camps offer to kids?
When students participate in a summer enrichment program, they continue to show improvement in attitude and motivation well into the school year. How can schools capitalize on those results to keep kids motivated and optimistic all school-year long?
Since summer camp activities inspire personal development skills in a fun way, it’s no wonder that kids will carry that positive attitude toward learning well into the fall months after they’ve returned to school. But after a few months of the same structured bell-to-bell learning routines, they will no doubt lose the drive to learn and be looking forward to summer camp again.
To keep students inspired and motivated all year long, schools should implement a few summer camp ideas into their learning systems.
Summer Camp Ideas for Schools
Kids get excited for summer camp every year, but often moan when thinking about going back to school. Here are six summer camp ideas schools can steal to get students more excited about being in a classroom:
1. Cultivating Community
Summer camps bring kids together quickly so that they form a tight bond. These often last longer than the duration of camp. Camp directors have the kids play games, hike and camp together, tell stories and create rituals around everyday tasks. Kids have to face and tackle challenges together, an act that inevitably brings them closer together.
Kids have to face and tackle challenges together, an act that inevitably brings them closer together.
Because of these efforts made together, kids can easily get a sense of belonging and community and summer camp. But when they start a new school year, it’s like the beginning of summer camp all over. Most of the time they know their classmates, but often times there are new students added to the mix.
Kids have basic psychological needs for emotional and physical safety, supportive relationships and a sense of being connected and belonging. These needs aid in what shapes their motivation and have a big effect on their learning and development.
Creating a caring community for students is important in helping them become more committed to their school and their learning process.
Teachers often do ice-breaker and community-building activities in the first few days of school, but students can easily lose that sense of community is that practice isn’t implemented consistently.
To cultivate a strong sense of community in the classroom, hold class meetings a few times a year to discuss goals and problems. Create specific rituals around daily activities. Try hosting school wide activities like a Family Film Night to boost the community link between students, teachers and parents.
2. Push Students Out of Their Comfort Zones
Kids seem to become fearless at summer camp. With the strong community around them and the awareness that they’re not the only ones doing it, they will do more things that they’re normally afraid of.
They’ll swim in creeks where snakes are seen squirming around. They’ll sleep in cabins where bugs lurk around. They’ll sleep in the woods during a 3-day hikes.
Of course, the safety net of their parents is nowhere around and yet kids while face their fears and go out of their comfort zones. In return, they learn essential coping skills and how to handle challenging situations.
Many kids are also afraid of taking challenging written tests. But which situation sounds more appealing to an adventurous child – participating in an active, real-life situation or sitting at their desk and filling in circles to prove their knowledge?
To really challenge kids, implement more realistic, interactive exams where they can see how the skills they’re being taught will impact their real lives.
3. Mentoring with Mixed Age Groups
Summer camps keep kids constantly interacting with other kids of different ages and age groups. Kids benefit from teenaged counselors leading them through activities. They get experience with older kids and, as a result, have mentors and people to look up to.
But in school, students are more segregated by age groups and grades. Teens and pre-teens miss out on developing certain skills because of this. Teenagers miss lessons in responsibility and accountability, while younger students don’t have a role model closer to their age than their teachers or parents.
Schools can implement a buddy system, pairing elementary students with upper-grade or middle school students to create these opportunities.
4. Pursuing Passions
Kids are required to participate in certain activities at summer camp, just like they’re required to take the core subjects in school. But summer camps also allow kids to pursue their passions and participate in more activities they’re interested in.
To keep learning fun all year-round, schools can implement more options for kids to pursue further learning in the areas they’re interested in.
5. Create a Positive Environment
Summer camp provides a fun, warm and inviting environment for kids. Kids learn to cheer on and support their peers as they learn new skills and accomplish their goals. They celebrate real success and participation awards unique to each child.
Teachers can create a positive environment in the classroom, too. They can generate supportive and encouraging behavior to bring kids together, making everyone feel valued and included. This would make kids excited to come back to school every day.
6. More Outdoor Activity
Kids associate summer camp with the outdoors, and they associate school with sitting at a desk inside a classroom all day. But outdoor learning can boost creativity, social skills, and problem-solving skills. Kids love being outdoors and exploring the world around them.
Teachers should try to take their classes outdoors during those nice-weather days to create a better learning environment.
Summer camps offer great opportunities for kids to develop essential life skills. Schools should implement these six summer camp ideas to help students reach their potential all throughout the year.