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Attending camps can help with transition for college students

Date: 3/20/2013

By Bette Bussel

The transition to college can mean big life changes for many students, but skills gained at summer camp can help ease the adjustment.

The American Camp Association, New England has compiled a list of some of the major advantages and skills children gain at overnight camp that help them make a smoother transition into college life.

Five life skills overnight camp experiences build that are essential in college:

1) Separation: Knowing how to survive and thrive in a residential community away from home and away from parents and family is extremely important. Resident camp experiences boost independence simply because children get to experience life away from their families.

2) Self-awareness/empowerment: Living away from home in the residential community of summer camp enables children to learn all kinds of key lessons about themselves and the unique role they are capable of playing in a group. For many individuals, camp experiences provide some of life's most significant and meaningful lessons in understanding who they are and what they're capable of.

3) Social skills: Camp experiences build social skills. Living closely with strangers in a small space (cabin, bunk, tent, or yurt) provides added incentive to learn the give and take necessary for successful community living. The ability to get along with others and the chance to develop tried and true methods of making friends, make the transition to college much easier for experienced campers.

4) Independence: Camp requires children to take care of themselves and their belongings. And, when problems arise, camp living enables children to rely on themselves for solutions or to reach out to others who can assist them. A rescue from a loving family member isn't an option at camp. It's not an option at college either.

5) Community building skills: Experienced resident campers know first-hand how to be members of the community, a tremendously important skill in making a successful transition to a new college or university environment. Whether it's tapping the expertise of others who know the ropes, discovering the most important resources, or identifying the people with common interests, community building skills are essential survival skills.

Provided by Bette Bussel, executive director, American Camp Association, New England. The American Camp Association, New England, a 501 (c)3 organization that serves as the region's leading source for "all things summer camp."

Families and camp professionals in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont can visit or call 781-541-6080 for help finding a camp or for additional information and resources.