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Youth Development at Summer Camp


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By Dr. Stephen Fine, Published Convoke Magazine, January 2008 in English and Chinese

Why Should I Send My Children To Summer Camp?

Summer camps in Ontario have been providing quality programs for children and young people for over a century. But, the population and cultural diversity of Ontario has grown considerably over the last 100 years. The truth is that today many families are no longer familiar with the concept of summer camp or what camp programs have to offer their children. Discerning international parents will find that today’s summer camps reflect the cultural diversity of Ontario in the 21st century. The camp is more than simply a fun and safe place for a summer holiday. The camp is a holistic learning environment that advances knowledge on the personal and social levels within the beauty and wonder of nature.

Over the years many international families have sent their children to our horseback riding camp in Ontario. Our campers come from all over Europe, Asia, and Latin America. Occasionally, I’m asked why parents send their children so far away from home. Often the reason is language immersion for non-English speakers but there are many other reasons as well.

The reasons are connected to the learning that takes place at camp; learning about self, community and the world around us through actual experience. Camp learning is different from learning at school because activities take place in settings associated with the subject matter. For example, geology, biology, geography, ecology, astronomy, art, and music all become more engaging when delivered in the social and physical settings of camp.

Hands-on Inquiry-based Learning

Ontario camps boast magnificent natural settings that are highly valued by people from countries which have suffered loss and /or pollution of their forests, lakes and rivers systems. Immersion into a natural environment allows children to receive a hands-on education that stimulates their natural curiosity. For example school, science and geography curriculums examine sustainable practices. This area of study can be challenging for children when their experience is limited only to urban environments and planned communities. Camp settings offer children a connection to the natural world that motivates learning and interest. This is something that cannot be achieved solely in the classroom.

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