It’s almost camp season! All over the country, Camp Fire camps are getting ready to welcome kids to a summer of fun, learning, growth, impact, and discovery.

Sometimes the stereotype of summer camp is just canoes and cabin hijinx, but camp is so much more. For starters, there is a range of camp formats and lengths, from all-summer day camps to traditional sleep-away weeks. In addition, camps that are programmed from a positive youth development perspective (like Camp Fire!) integrate social-emotional learning, so campers leave with more than just fun memories.

“We educate the whole child,” says Erin Vincent, executive director of Camp Fire Heartland. “Young people learn life skills and teamwork. They build social skills and problem-solving abilities. The life lessons that come out of camp are so important.” Campers become more connected to nature and explore activities that help them develop a sense of purpose.

Our camps keep some of those traditional camp activities, like nature hikes and archery, but up the ante with new ventures, like wilderness identification skills or farm-to-table gardening. Camp Fire is keeping outdoor education alive with innovation.

We know our approach is working! For one, Erin hasn’t had to enforce a phone policy at Camp Fire Heartland’s camp because kids get so involved in the activities that they forget about their tech. “They are having so much fun that they don’t even think about it,” laughs Erin. Other camp staff across the country report that it’s actually harder for the parents to disconnect from kids than for the youth to be phone-free. Young people fully embrace disconnecting and being fully-present in their camp experience.

 

When it comes to finding a camp for the kid(s) in your life, look for these three things:

 

  1. American Camp Association accreditation. Accredited camps have met high standards for safety, training, staffing, and emergency preparedness. It’s a must when seeking out a quality camping experience.
  2. Well-trained, caring counselors and staff. Make sure the program is rooted in youth development principles. Training is as important a factor as accreditation when choosing a camp. Last month was National Child Abuse Prevention Month – learn how Camp Fire trains its staff when it comes to such a critical topic.
  3. A safe environment where youth feel comfortable being themselves. If you can, arrange a visit to the camp beforehand, so you can check out the facilities, meet the staff, and get connected with other families. For example, Camp Fire Heartland has a cookout several weeks before camp begins to give kids and their families a chance to get acclimated before the real sessions begin. Many camps have different opportunities like this for families.

 

In short, you’re looking for a camp where kids can thrive. Camp Fire prides itself on its inclusivity and ensures there is something to engage every kid at camp. Camp Fire’s main goal is for its campers to find their sparks each summer, connect with others, and have a memorable, impactful experience.

Are you ready? FIND YOUR CAMP!