The Importance of Summer Camp in Helping Children Stay Healthy and Happy through Exercise.
By Rachel Mlota
It’s a well documented fact that every child in America should spend at least an hour everyday exercising. Whether it’s sports lessons or unstructured free play, this important hour of exercise allows for children to stay fit and healthy whilst developing stronger life skills like teamwork and communication. Most importantly, exercise can help them discover new passions or help develop them.
However, today the new iGeneration are more likely to playing on electronic devices than exercising. As we become more connected our children are simply choosing to spend more of their free time on social media, playing electronic games or watching TV rather than being out on the streets or parks playing with their friends. Childhood socializing and communication have changed and with it we’re starting to see a decline in basic healthy exercise.
Being healthy and happy are important aspects of childhood development and exercise is a great way to promote this. It’s also part of the reason that parents today are choosing to maximizing their child’s playing experiences by sending them to summer camp, a place where there is daily exercise in the schedule. There’s a feeling that a lot of the time it doesn’t even feel like exercise, it’s simply being active whilst having fun.
We spoke to Mia, our Basketball Director at IHC — and NYC PE teacher — about what she feels camp provides children in relation to healthy sport and exercise.
“At IHC, kids are introduced to a variety of sports and activities. We show them different ways of staying fit and healthy, a lot of the time they don’t realize just how active they are, that’s important. It’s not forced exercise”
“When you play exercise and especially when you play sport, it helps you come out of your shell. It allows you to forget about life and just focus on what you’re doing,”
“Team sports especially, allow kids to build connections and friendships as they learn how to communicate through conflict and resolve inevitable team issues. It helps you become an individual and also team player.”
“Good habits formed at youth make all the difference,”
Technology isn’t bad but it is important for parents to foster a habit of exercise for their children. As life naturally starts to gets busier, it becomes arguably harder to cultivate a new practice. Simply running around and playing each day helps improve 3 important areas of childhood development, endurance, strength and flexibility.
Regular aerobic activity helps improve endurance, you will feel more energized through-out the day which in turn helps children to achieve better in other areas of life, like academically. Children will be able to focus better in the classroom and will also have a better sleeping pattern at night. Better endurance also helps children manage their emotions better, children tend to be more patient and calm in stressful situations.
Strength again, is very important for children to develop at an early age. It doesn’t mean they have to start bench-pressing in the gym but the simple habits of climbing a tree, riding a bike or jumping around will help develop their muscle strength. This will also build stronger bones that helps promote childhood growth.
Flexibility helps children develop good posture. As children sit around more than before they are starting to develop bad habits. Slouched shoulders, and hunched backs are common problems which can easily be improved with basic stretching and daily exercise.
Summer camp is a gift for children for a lot of unique reasons, one of these reasons is it offers the modern-day child a safe place to be a child. Unaffected, undistracted, and allowed to be outdoors living a free-spirited active lifestyle that will benefit them as they start to grow and develop in their teenage and young adult lives.
At summer camp, children are encouraged to partake in physical exercise every single day because children who exercise are happier. We feel good after we exercise, it releases hormones that help reduce stress and anxiety. Exercise improves your ability to shift and focus attention. It also helps with the brain’s reaction times and long-term memory.
One might argue that sleep away camps will be more beneficial for the iGeneration in comparison to all prior generations because it’s a place where digital kids can be no different to the many children before them.