Dear Campers, Parents and Friends,
For centuries, nature has been a source of healing and inspiration. Now, studies show exposure to nature has endless physical, cognitive, social, creative and emotional benefits for children. I am not at all surprised by this finding. This is why a good camp experience adds so much to the overall development of the whole child. Today’s children get 50% less unstructured outdoor play time than kids of the 1970’s, according to the Alliance for Childhood, a non-profit group. Our lives are over-scheduled, so free time, for both children and adults is sparse. We are hyper-competitive and dictated by security concerns. Video games and electronic devices vie for children’s time, and all the while, parents are dealing with the demands of balancing work and home life.
Camp is one place where unstructured outdoor play exists in its finest form. Outdoor play at camp is meaningful and relevant to how we live today. Camp helps to reinvent the outdoor experience. Camp allows the child to get close to nature in a fun and hands-on manner. Sometime back in the sixties adult directed sports for children began to replace pickup games and unstructured free play. As you might guess after 9/11 children did not venture as far from home and play was mostly supervised.
Gwynn Valley is a giant playground where children are well supervised in a nurturing environment. The traditional playground and the playground industry are redefining themselves to meet the demands of our high-tech world. Traditional playgrounds have incorporated technology into physical exercise for children who are participating. It’s an active and fun way to relate to the modern child who’s been raised in a technological world. Camp’s massive playground comes without technology and all the things that provide for all the senses that children need to take in on a daily basis.
First and foremost are the relationships they make while here at camp with other children and staff. The playful camp environments are large and varied from sports, to adventure challenges, to creative/artistic skills, to nature itself utilizing all types of forest surroundings, streams and meadows. All of this plays into life skills for growing happy and healthy children. How often does one get to go directly to the source where your food comes from. How often does one get to participate in harvesting the food that they will eat at their next meal. How often does one get to physically interact with the animals that are a part of a farm to fork program.
Camp leaders, manufacturers, educators and researchers must work together to better understand the physical, cognitive, social and emotional aspects of what happens when children play. Whether they’re playing tag, biking the flow of single track, or placing rubber bands to create the tie-dye masterpiece, they are using all their senses and building the foundations for making the whole person. Camp’s playground is a nurturing and meaningful place for children where experiences build confidence, spur on creativity, and help build strong relationships. Play is powerful and camp is powerful.
PS – Here’s a link to a video on our new dining room / kitchen building progress! Enjoy!