March 24, 2020 | By: Jennifer in For Love of the Game
It feels as though most of us spent this past winter in hibernation. After a summer of enjoying the outdoors (and likely the odd picnic basket), mandatory winter lockdowns pushed all of us into seclusion. Shopping and social activities were often prohibited, and even outdoor sports such as skiing and skating were prohibited in large numbers.
This past round of lockdowns was even harder for our young ones. Most children had their schedules change rapidly between in-person and virtual learning, leaving it difficult to predict their schedules for even the day ahead. These rounds of forced isolation have of course been for the greater public benefit, but that does not make it any easier on children. Children learn their socialization skills and how to relate to the world around them from engaging with each other, and while they are impressively adaptable, it is difficult to engage the same way exclusively over a camera.
In a study recently reported on by SickKids, roughly 70 per cent of children found that their mental health fared worse last Spring during the early days of lockdowns than it had prior to the pandemic. The effects were increased in children with learning and behavioural difficulties, for whom the classroom is often where they receive the attention and instruction that they need to succeed. The timing of the study indicates that removal from in-person learning and extracurricular activities was directly linked to children’s diminished mental health.
Now though, with a greater understanding of COVID-19 and its spread (and with vaccinations arriving daily), we can look forward to a very different summer. While public health precautions are still in place, summer is when kids can safely engage with each other outdoors, picking up on that socialization and outside learning that has been interrupted time and again throughout the pandemic. They may not be able to engage in the same ways as they did in 2019, but they can definitely reap the benefits.
Nowhere do kids get to socialize more or engage with their surroundings more than camp. Camp is of course a place for kids to have fun and let loose, but it is also the place for them to grow and develop into leaders, even if they don’t realize it. We believe that camp is truly magical, and we wanted to illustrate some of those reasons why:
Making Connections – Children connect with each other during the year through school, whether over the lunch table or on the playground at recess. Yet lockdowns have meant isolated virtual learning, and taped-off jungle gyms, and children lose the opportunity to bond in the same way. Camp, even with physical distancing in place, allows kids to interact with each other in person and form friendships. The friendships formed at camp are often ones that last a lifetime, so to deprive children of that opportunity any more than necessary can have a lasting impact.
A Breath of Fresh Air – Kids have spent the better part of the last year hunched over a screen for school, as well as all of the socialization that they were already doing over computers, smartphones, and video games. Camp takes them offline for a few hours every day for a healthy dose of fresh air, and exercise. Children have spent the past year largely stuck indoors; camp offers them the opportunity to run, swim, play baseball, and really reconnect with outdoor activity.
A Pleasant Distraction – We spoke about children’s mental health suffering during the pandemic, but we lose sight of the fact that they too could use a vacation from this constant time of stress. They are surprisingly receptive to our stresses, whether we are watching case numbers rising or stressing over the pressures of working from home. That is only compounded by their own stresses as they try to contemplate the future in a post-pandemic world. Camp gives kids the opportunity to take their mind off the stresses of daily living right now, and to simply get out and play.
Perseverance and Teamwork – While camp is mostly fun and games, kids also learn some real-world problem solving skills that they use to help them in their everyday lives. At camp, kids learn the importance of teamwork in order to achieve success (both on and off the field). They learn that even if they are not the best of friends with everyone in their group, or on their wiffle ball team, that they still have to back each other up on the field and work together. They learn that success does not happen in isolation, and every player on the team plays an important part in the team’s victory. They also learn that even if they don’t win this time, they can always try again next time. When they fall or scrape a knee, campers learn how to keep going with a bandage as protection. Even with adult supervision, campers learn these important leadership skills at a young age, and they carry them forward into the other aspects of their lives during the year.
Stand Proud – Camp goes a long way to help kids boost their confidence. They work with instructors and staff to improve their skills, and walk away feeling proud of their accomplishments. Their improvements are recognized throughout the summer, and that confidence that they gain often translates into other areas of their lives.
At Field of Dreams, we believe that camp is one of the greatest ways that children learn the skills that they need to navigate the world around them. We are proud to offer a variety of our baseball camps this summer with COVID-19 safety protocols fully in force. The last year has been a challenge for all of us, but just like how all of us could really use a vacation, kids could really benefit from a summer at camp. Contact us today to learn how to enroll in the right program for your family.