Making The Grade
By Daryl Moss
Every year on the first day of school, as students share what they did over the summer with their friends, teachers quietly listen in, hoping to hear those magic words—“I went to sleepaway camp.¨ Why are residential campers so desirable in the classroom? Kids who go to camp have gained experiences and skills that make them successful in the classroom and in interactions with their peers. Check out four of the many reasons that teachers love having camp kids as their students:
1. Camp kids know how to be independent.
The ability to work independently is important for student success as well as for increasing a teacher’s productivity. Students who have been to camp have copious practice in developing independence. Camp challenges children to make and stick to a schedule, to prepare themselves for a day full of activities, and to make choices on their own. When children practice making decisions (even small ones, like what to eat for breakfast), they are more prepared to be self-sufficient outside of camp. Independence in the classroom allows for teachers to work with small groups, enables students to keep busy if they finish work early, and provides an opportunity for them to work on homework or classwork with little support.
2. Students who spend time at camp are resourceful.
In a camp setting, kids are often forced to make something out of seemingly nothing—whether planning a last-minute skit for campfire or tapping into their creative side during an arts-and-crafts period. Working with limited time, supplies, or help can make campers grow into more resourceful young people. This ability to be innovative is a benefit to students in the classroom as well. Students are constantly pushed to meet deadlines and to adapt to different classroom conditions. Since kids who have been to camp understand how to think outside the box and to make do with what is available to them, they are more prepared to meet the demands of school.
3. Residential campers are able to work well in groups.
Collaborative learning, which is an important part in most classrooms today, requires students to have a wide range of social skills. Students who have spent time at camp have extensive practice in meeting new people, getting along with bunkmates, and working through problems that arise between campers. These experiences translate into an ability to work with new and diverse partners or groups in the classroom and an understanding of how to make group work a success. Spending time with groups of other campers around the clock can make working in groups for projects or classwork seem like a breeze.
4. Camp kids have heightened confidence.
Summer camp provides children with a wide range of opportunities for success. Campers learn new activities, perform skits and talents in front of peers, and form new friendships. Each of these small triumphs helps children to build confidence in themselves and their abilities. The confidence that camp inspires is carried over to home, school, and beyond. A confident student is more likely to take healthy risks and is more able to overcome setbacks. This type of student is also better able to make and keep positive relationships with other students and adults.
Owner/director Daryl Moss graduated cum laude from UCLA with a B.A. in Psychology in 1991. This summer will mark his 34th summer working with kids in camp at Canyon Creek Sports Camp in Lake Hughes, Calif. For over 15 years, he was the athletic director at The Willows Community School in Culver City, Calif. Additionally, he spent 16 years as the director of sports and the coordinator of the four different summer day camps at Cheviot Hills Recreation Center in West Los Angeles, Calif. In May 2000, Daryl was commended by the Los Angeles City Council and the Department of Recreation and Parks by naming the Cheviot Hills gymnasium in his honor.