Disclaimer :: Camp Fire Camp El Tesoro crafted this sponsored post based on decades’ experience nurturing and equipping children who attend its summer camps.
We live in a world where parents do whatever they can to set their children up for success. Whether it’s paying tuition for private school, driving out of the way for the best child care, sacrificing living on a nice plot of land for the best school district, or spending every Saturday at soccer practice — if it’s best for your child, you do it no questions asked.
As if raising a child isn’t stressful enough, parents are now realizing the pressure of ensuring their child becomes a successful adult. You see it everywhere:
“Will the cry-it-out method give my child abandonment issues when he or she grows up?”
“If I get my child too many gifts for Christmas, will he or she become entitled teens?”
“My child isn’t making friends at school, will he or she be a lonely adult?”
. . . and so on, and so on.
Quality child care, great schools, and organized sports are great for your child — but if you want to give your children a real leg-up in life. . . leave them.
That’s right. If you love your child, leave them.
Leaving your child can be the best way to help him or her establish the necessary skills successful adults possess. We aren’t talking about a sleep-over or a weekend with the grandparents. No, this is much more than that.
This is summer camp.
Sleep-away camp. Resident camp. Overnight camp. Whatever you want to call it — an organized, “send your child away for a week-or-so” program is a building block that sets the strong foundation of many, many children every summer.
I know what you’re thinking — your child isn’t ready to go away for a week. This might be true, but here’s a quick list to help you determine if your child isn’t ready to go, or you aren’t ready to let go:
- Your child can dress himself. At camp, we aren’t looking for fashionistas. Your little one might put on a polka dot shirt with plaid shorts, and that’s okay.
- Your child can manage basic hygiene. Can she brush her teeth? Great. Can she use the restroom? Great. Can she shower? Great. She can handle camp.
- Your child can carry on a conversation. We don’t mean discussing astrophysics. If your child can carry on a conversation about anything, he can make friends and bond with his counselors.
- Your child is building relationships other than family. Maybe it’s a best friend at school, maybe it’s a teammate at baseball. If your child is starting to show signs of creating meaningful relationships outside of family members, she can be successful in a cabin full of kids her age. Warning: Your child will make friends at camp, and these relationships often turn into lifelong friendships.
If you still aren’t fully comfortable with sending your child away for a week, many camps offer shorter sessions for younger, first-time campers. At Camp El Tesoro, we offer four-day sessions for campers in grades one through three. Once they’ve mastered the four-day, they can move up to a longer session.
An overnight camp is different from an organized school camping trip, or even a church camp. While these trips are great, they often don’t allow your child to get out of his or her comfort-zone. When they go on an adventure with a group of friends they already know, they are missing out on half of the experience — building relationships with new friends from different backgrounds.
So what are the long-term benefits of sending your child to camp? Here are a few:
- Building confidence. At Camp El Tesoro, we help youth build confidence through activity-progression. Campers pick three activities to focus on during the week, and each day they build on their own progress. Whether it’s shooting a bulls-eye with an arrow for the first time, or taking that leap off the climbing tower to glide down the zip-line, camp teaches children that great adventure and success comes to those who work hard and persevere.
- Decision-making skills. From the moment campers arrive, they begin to make their own decisions. From selecting activities, picking a bunk, and deciding what to eat, your child will become responsible for their decisions and actions. Trained counselors step in to help when asked or needed, but when possible, youth make decisions for themselves while at camp. When they get back to the “real world,” your experienced camper will carry this skill into his or her everyday life.
- Independence. Campers stay away from home for extended periods of time, often without anyone they know – sound familiar? When your child goes to college, the anxiety of being away from home in a dorm full of students he doesn’t know eases because he has done it before (and were successful!).
- Social skills. If you really want to see social skills develop quickly, put 10, 12-year-old girls in a cabin together for a week. Whether it be through late-night heart-to-hearts, silly joke-telling, or resolving conflicts, the social skills developed at camp help prepare youth for working with those from all walks of life, for the rest of their lives.
Making the decision to send your child away for any period of time can be hard, and choosing a camp can be even harder. If you don’t know where to start, we encourage researching camps within a two-hour radius of your home. Look at their philosophy, activities offered, and amenities.
If possible, visit a camp open house before registering. At Camp El Tesoro, we offer three open houses: beginning of April, end of April, and beginning of May, so you have plenty of time to make an informed decision (bonus: many camps offer specials if you sign up on-site at a preview). At El Tesoro, we also offer a Family Camping Weekend, so you have the opportunity to experience everything your child will experience when he or she is at camp.
So leave your children. Leave them to become stronger. Leave them to play. Leave them to learn. Leave them to make friends. But when you pick them up, be ready for the car ride home. We guarantee they will have grown — and they will probably talk your ear off about everything they’ve become.
Camp Fire Camp El Tesoro is a 223-acre multi-use camp that welcomes boys and girls age 6 – 16. Established in 1934 and accredited by the American Camp Association, the camp has welcomed four generations of campers. Located in Granbury, Texas, on the bend of the Brazos River at Fall Creek, Camp El Tesoro is equipped with two swimming pools, a covered equestrian center, a challenge course with both high and low elements and much more. Follow Camp El Tesoro on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.