How will your kids tell their story? You know, the one that answers the question, “What did you do last summer?” For many, the summer’s highlights involve the heroic deeds, memorable triumphs, and imaginative fun that only summer camp can provide. Camps are multi-purposed. As well as providing child-care solutions for families during the summer weeks, camp also offers exposure to other facets of life not offered in a school environment.
Many parents are familiar with STEM; an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. This buzzworthy term is used by practically-skilled curriculum- builders focused on school-based learning. With an additional ‘A’ for ‘Arts,’ STEM becomes STEAM, which adds a whole new world of imagination and adventure to camp programming.
Let’s face it, we’re living in a society where typically the support of arts programming in schools is dwindling, yet the importance of this type of exploration on brain development in children remains imperative. Karen Youngberg, Community Engagement Specialist at Jube School and Jube Camp, says, “Camps offer a few important learnings for a child’s development - the chance to explore new things, create for themselves, and grow some independence.” She adds, “With each positive camp experience, children grow new perspectives, self-confidence, and a sense of community through creative play.”
A study at the New York Centre for Arts Education shares its list of benefits of art education on mental development, including gaining the abilities to “observe, describe, analyze, and interpret.” It goes on to note the skill sets of “problem-solving, critical thinking, and language skills and the ability to express feelings with or without words.” In short, arts-based learning opens minds. With the exploration of nature, activities, and the arts, children learn about the world around them and what their role is in it.
Chances are your own camp memories as a child are of victorious hikes, epic campfires, and the quirky characters you accomplished these tasks with. Digging deeper, the memories themselves may be anchored in the self-designed t-shirts and bracelets you wore the rest of hat summer, the improv games that brought the group closer, and the immersive stories that were told around the campfire. It’s these elements of creative play that set the stage for unforgettable experiences.
At present, you are likely making the decision of which camps to register your kids in and your decision is likely guided by your family’s summer schedule and hints of interest from your kids. It’s important to listen to their interests because, like planting a seed, these interests will grow. People tend to make friends through shared interests, so it makes sense that a child’s camp friends will continue to flourish due to their shared passion for cycling, acting, or craft-making, for example. “It’s amazing what creative things kids come up with when they’re given the right tools, encouragement, and room to explore through arts education,” adds Youngberg.
The arts build confidence. Since there is no ‘right’ way to make art, every child can take pride in what they’ve created and how they got there. This can be an empowering way to learn. So, when it comes to choosing camps for your kids, use your imagination! Because they certainly will.
How will your kids tell their summer story? Creatively, with STEAM-powered memories.
Jonathan is the Executive Director of the Alberta Jubilee Auditoria Society. For more information on Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium’s Jube Camp, which explores the technical, visual, and performing arts, visit jubileeauditorium.com.
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