Before I founded Well Being Therapy Center, I spent my summers as co-director of a teen summer camp. At the time it was known as Omega Teen Camp, and has since become the beloved Odyssey Teen Camp.
This is why I love teen summer camps so much:
1. Teens need to face challenges on their own in order to develop coping skills. Too often parents swoop in well-intended, but overlook the fact that their involvement hinders their teen from experiencing the challenge, and overcoming the obstacle on their own. This is what allows teens to develop self-efficacy, the sense that one can successfully deal with life’s challenges.
2. Peer support is so important to teens. During this developmental stage, teens look to their friends for feedback and connection. Having an opportunity to gain more positive friendships away from home can boost self-confidence and open doors to new ideas.
3. Summer camp can be a fresh start for teens who struggle socially in school. Many teens find they fit right in with a whole new group of peers at camp. I have known many teens who often feel left out in school, but count the days down until they can see their camp friends again.
4. No smartphones or social media! Most of you know I’m a big proponent of limiting social media use. The current research is clear about the link between regular social media use and an increased risk for depression and anxiety. Summer camp may just be the one time of the year that your teen is interacting with peers without a phone.
I will always have a special bias towards Odyssey Teen Camp because of the many amazing summers I spent there, and because of how well they succeed in their mission to create a truly non-judgmental place for teens to just be themselves.
But of course, there are so many other wonderful teen summer programs out there – from art and theater camps, to sports and travel camps. Many religious organizations also offer low-cost opportunities for teens through volunteer work and trips. You can find hundreds of programs listed on the American Camp Association website.
Regardless of what type of program you may choose, giving your teen an opportunity to develop independence and learn about their interests away from home is a gift that I hope every parent can offer to their teen.
Here’s to your Well Being!