Recently, I’ve been asking myself a lot of questions that I don’t have the answers to. With so much uncertainty right now, I find myself thinking through questions that are impossible to answer. There is one question in particular that I’ve been focusing on:
How is this pandemic going to affect the social skills of all people, especially children?
Before the Coronavirus, I was already concerned about how technology and social media were affecting the social skills of young people. Steve Sir has talked much about the research that shows increased levels of anxiety, depression, and feelings of loneliness in youth. Now, with families and children on lockdown, doing all school/work virtually, there is no doubt that screen time is increasing and feelings of isolation could be growing. Heck, even as an adult, I’m concerned about my own technology use and time spent alone right now.
I can’t predict the future. I don’t know exactly how COVID-19 will impact the social skills of children in our country. However, I am an adamant believer in this: Summer camp is one of the most impactful ways children can develop and practice social skills.
Thinking about my own experience as a camper growing up, I believe that camp largely contributed to my social development. Along with my immediate family, organized sports, and school, camp was a defining experience in my life every summer. As a Mini (7-9 years old), I learned how to make friends, try new things that seemed scary at first, and showing kindness to those who were different from me. As a middle schooler, I learned that I don’t always have to be the leader, the importance of being a good listener, and why it’s a good idea to avoid gossip. In the Senior Camper Program (high school), I learned integrity, humility, and hands-on leadership. In short, camp taught me a huge amount of social and emotional skills that still stick with me to this day.
While I don’t have the answers to many of the questions surrounding Coronavirus, I know that camp will continue to be a profound experience for kids for many years to come. Whether it’s this coming summer, Family Camp this fall, or summer 2021, camp will be a place where kids learn new social skills, develop independence and confidence, and have a community of others dedicated to their personal growth.