A study by Indiana University and Ohio State researchers found that children gain more weight over the summer than during the school year. However, a child’s summer camp experience can provide the structure and activity needed to keep kids healthy year-round. According to research conducted by the American Camp Association, 63 percent of children who learn new activities at camp tend to continue engaging in these activities after they return home.
The whole camp environment promotes a healthy lifestyle, and it’s not just limited to the activities that campers are participating in. Camp includes a lot of physical activity, healthy eating and good nutrition, and a set sleep schedule, all of which many children with no camp experience miss out on experiencing.
Summer camp life involves quite a bit of moving around, and no matter what, campers are always playing. Physical activities such as sports, dance, swimming, navigating the ropes course, or hiking up a mountain, all require campers to move and burn calories in new ways.
At camp, food tends to be different than school cafeteria food and home food and snacks. Camp is all about trying out new experiences, and many campers do that even in the dining hall, campers have an opportunity to try new foods – whether it’s a new salad dressing from the salad bar at lunch or frozen yogurt instead of ice cream.
Sufficient Shut Eye
You will be amazed at how tired your camper is when they come home from day camp or even a session at overnight camp. Reports show that bedtime happens on time or early most days for day campers. Overnight campers experience optimal conditions for sleep too—extra activity during the day, fresh air and sunshine, and a schedule with built in time for sleep and rest—often after lunch and again at the end of the day.
The Benefits of the Great Outdoors
Spending more time in nature is a proven stress reducer. The warmth of the sun, a cool, refreshing rain, the calming sounds, the wind in the trees – being outside and connecting with nature is nurturing and calming for people of all ages. Camps offer some unique opportunities to explore, appreciate, learn and benefit from nature, and when stress is reduced, often the desire to overeat and remain inactive is also reduced.
The ACA New England believes that all children need a broad range of opportunities to be physically active. Physical activity produces fundamental physical, psychological, and social benefits.
For more than 150 years, camp programs have sought ways to create healthy communities for children by providing environments that offer frequent and varied opportunities for physical activity.
The healthy lifestyle learning curve can be steep, but camps encourage children and provide the lessons, role models, coaching, inspiration, and encouragement that children need so they can form healthy habits for life.
By Bette Bussel and provided by the American Camp Association, New England.