Benefits of Summer Camp
March 3rd, 2022
By Leif Einarson, Communications Manager at GreenUP
We may still be surrounded by freezing rain and snow, but parents and guardians know all too well the mad dash at this time of year to finalize summer plans and register children for camps.
Research shows that there are many benefits to summer camps. In 2010 the Canadian Camping Association and the University of Waterloo undertook The Canadian Summer Camp Research Project. This project was the first of its scope in Canada to study the positive growth and development of children in summer camps.
Researchers identified five benefits: environmental awareness, developing self-confidence, building empathy, being more active, and socialization.
Youth are in a tough spot today. Youth are aware of the climate emergency and how it will impact their generation more than any other generation before. Yet many youth today also suffer from a more severe lack of connection to the natural world than previous generations. Many youth today also are not introduced to examples of and tools for the climate leadership they need to address this emergency in their lifetime.
Youth benefit from more time learning how to connect with nature, and programs that introduce them to empowering climate leadership examples and tools they can use in their lives.
Spending time amongst trees and natural spaces benefits our physical and mental health. Education and leadership training empowers us to protect our natural world and take the action necessary to address the climate emergency.
We are lucky in this region to have many local camps and programs that allow youth to immerse themselves in the outdoors and connect with nature. Check out Camp Kawartha and TRACKS, the Pathway to Stewardship and Kinship, and many more local programs that focus on nature connection and environmental awareness.
GreenUP also offers summer programs that address these needs. Our Bike Adventures camps at Ecology Park offer youth the empowering opportunity to learn how to maintain and use their bike safely as a transportation tool.
Learning to bike and maintain a bike is a powerful tool for independence. This tool can carry youth effectively through their entire lives in a cost-effective and healthy way.
“Teaching our kids to ride a bike is more than just balance and pedalling,” points out Jaime Akiyama, Program Coordinator at GreenUP and Chair of Active School Travel Peterborough. “Teaching our kids to bike is about learning to navigate safely and independently, learning to observe, make decisions, and problem-solve. GreenUP’s Bike Adventures camp teaches skills and knowledge for travelling by bike, providing participants with life skills and options for the future. Whether they want to ride for fun and fitness, for climate action, or need an inexpensive travel option, we want to make sure they are safe, happy, and ready to ride!”
At GreenUP, we know that it is essential for youth to participate actively in climate solutions.
Plan International recognizes that, “climate change has a disproportionate impact on children, particularly girls,” because it “magnifies the inequalities they already suffer and their unequal access to health, sexual reproductive health and rights, education, participation, and protection.”
According to Plan, “increasing access to quality education and age and gender responsive climate information is essential in enabling girls to become leaders in climate action and to participate in climate change decision-making.”
In 2020, GreenUP began offering a Girl’s Leadership Program. This program gives girl-identifying and non-binary youth the opportunity to learn about the impacts of climate change, to develop strategies to support action in their households, and to meet inspiring woman-identified climate leaders who are creating positive change in our community.
Spots are available for our 2022 Girl’s Climate Leadership Program. With help from the Nourish Project, the Endeavour Sustainable Building School, B!KE: The Community Bike Shop, and other local partners, we will offer hands-on opportunities for girl-identifying youth to learn about food security, low-carbon building, water protection, active transportation, and ecosystem restoration.
“We are so excited to offer this gender-responsive climate action programming,” shares Karen O’Krafka, Coordinator of Education Programs at GreenUP. “It is inspiring to see youth thrive in the safe and fun spaces we create in this program. When youth have these opportunities, when they’re introduced to the tools, the connections, and their own capacity for action, they can overcome barriers to action. The climate crisis is such a heavy weight for today’s youth. We know these girls can be powerful and positive forces for change, and we also know that feeling challenged and empowered while also having fun make this program even more impactful.”
Local area summer camps and programs provide social, emotional, and confidence building experiences, as well as essential physical activity and environmental awareness.
Registration is now open for GreenUP’s summer programs. All programs for participants aged 5-8 are sold out with full waitlists, but we still have spots available for older participants aged 9-12 in the Bike Adventures and ages 10-13 in the Girl’s Climate Leadership Program.
Online registration available at greenup.on.ca/camp-programs
GreenUP thanks 100 Women Peterborough for their generous donation in support of the 2022 Girl’s Climate Leadership Program. Thanks to grants and generous donations like this, GreenUP is able to offer a limited number of scholarship spaces in the Girl’s Climate Leadership Program. For information about scholarships, programming, and registration, please email Karen O’Krafka: firstname.lastname@example.org
GreenUP is also hiring several Environmental Camp Educators, so if you know a potential candidate between the ages of 18 and 30 please send them to the job posting currently on our website: greenup.on.ca/employment