Summer camp is a tried-and-true tradition around the world – from Beijing to Barcelona to Baltimore, students of all ages gather together to spend their school vacation participating in fun summer activities. It’s well known in the field of child psychology that summer camp has great benefits to kids’ social skills and general mental and physical health.
But what about academic summer camps? They might seem a little less cool than spending a summer playing capture-the-flag or learning how to surf, but they’re vital to students’ success in high school, college, career, and beyond. Here are the top 10 benefits of academic summer camps!
1. Learning from positive role models
At academic summer camps, students are being taught by experts in whatever field they’re studying – whether it’s coding, Model UN, or space exploration! This is a chance for students to be mentored by accomplished role models, whether they’re professors, college students, or other professionals. Young students will understand how these individuals have accomplished their goals of becoming successful in their chosen field, and be inspired by their hard work and determination.
2. Development of self-reliance and independence
Just like traditional summer camps, students will develop stronger senses of self-reliance and independence while away at an academic camp. They’ll be 100% responsible for their own learning and progress, and will have to juggle being away from home while also focusing on learning. This helps students prepare for college, where the newfound sense of freedom and independence can sometimes be jarring.
3. Activities for all types of learners
Many students can get bored with learning in typical school environments – after all, sitting at a desk for 8 hours a day is not for everyone! Academic summer camps often incorporate different activities and environments into their curriculum so that students can get the most out of their learning experience. From field trips and guest speakers to group projects and open house presentations, these departures from regular classroom experiences can benefits learners of all kinds.
4. Making new friends & meeting people from different backgrounds
According to the Century Foundation, “researchers have documented that students’ exposure to other students who are different from themselves and the novel ideas and challenges that such exposure brings leads to improved cognitive skills, including critical thinking and problem solving.” In addition to the cognitive benefits, exposure to new and unfamiliar cultures and backgrounds lead students to develop a greater understanding of the world around them. Students will ultimately be better prepared to succeed in a world that is more racially-, ethnically-, and religiously diverse than ever before.
5. Development of new social skills
According to the American Camp Association, attending summer camp can have great positive impact on students’ social skills. At academic summer camps, students must work together on projects and support each other through assignments and new lessons. These experiences, in addition to recreational social activities, help students to make new friends, develop their empathy, and improve their overall communication skills.
6. Exploration of new academic topics and fields of study
When you think about it, asking 18-year-olds to choose exactly what career path they’d like to pursue is a bit crazy. These students have barely had enough time to consider their schedule next week, let alone what kind of job they want for the rest of their lives! However, attending academic summer camps allows students to explore brand new subjects that they might not have even heard of before. By diving deep into new fields of study over the course of a week of camp, students can learn more about their own interests and be a bit more comfortable with choosing a college major down the road.
7. Experiencing life on a college campus
College is a huge transition point for students. They’re going from living at home with their parents to living in a dorm with hundreds – even thousands – of their peers. Because most academic summer camps are hosted on university campuses, attendees get the chance to experience this way of life before it’s permanent. They’ll get used to dining halls, walking to class, managing their own time, and all of the other facets of college life. This helps students transition to college full-time when they’re ready.
8. Exploration of new cities
Many students don’t have the opportunity to travel when they’re in middle or high school – whether it’s busy schedules, budget restrictions, or a little bit of anxiety about leaving home. However, attending an academic summer camp in another city (or even country!) can be a transformative experience for students. They get to explore different ways of life, meet new kinds of people, and develop a sense of the world at large.
9. Avoiding the “summer slide”
According to numerous studies, students are extremely likely to experience learning loss during summer vacation – also known as the summer slide. Because they’re not engaging in learning every day, students forget what they learned during the school year. However, by participating in learning-based activities, students can avoid the summer slide. An academic summer camp is the perfect way to engage students and make sure they don’t forget the critical skills they have already learned – all while having fun and meeting new friends!
10. Preparation for college & career
It’s no question that college admissions are incredibly competitive these days – and after college, the competition doesn’t stop once the job search rolls around. By attending an academic summer camp, students can gain the skills and experiences that colleges and employers consistently look for in applicants, including communication skills, critical thinking skills, and dedication to specific subjects. The lessons learned at academic summer camps don’t just dissipate after camp is over – they endure for a lifetime.