Former campers are eager to send their own kids

May 16, 2018

Campfires and color wars, bunkmates and bus buddies, songs and sports. Most Americans think it’s important to send kids to summer camp—but that feeling is even stronger among former campers, based on findings of a Rasmussen Reports national survey of 1,000 U.S. adults conducted by Pulse Opinion Research and released on May 9.

Fully 58% of U.S. adults believe that it’s at least somewhat important for kids to go to a summer camp—among them, 22% who think it is very important.

And the numbers show it: According to the American Camp Association, more than 14 million children attend summer camp in the United States—and they have their choice of over 14,000 day and overnight camps nationwide.

What’s more, statistics from an ACA Youth Outcomes Study show that, among recent campers:

  • 96% said the experience helped them to make new friends;
  • 93% got to know and appreciate kids who were “different” from them;
  • 92% said that camping made them feel better about themselves; and
  • 75% said they got to do things they had at first been afraid to attempt and they were proud of their achievements.

The experts seem to agree. Michael Brandwein, a consultant to the camp profession based in Lincolnshire, Illinois, notes, “What makes camp a special community is its focus on celebrating effort. In this less pressured atmosphere, children learn more readily what positive things to say and do when they make mistakes and face challenges.

Brandwein also said, “The traditions and customs of each different camp are like a secret code that allows those who know it to feel embraced by something unique and special …. Campers are urged to include, not exclude, others. They are praised for choosing new partners and not always the same ones. They are encouraged to respect the differences between people. In an increasingly sarcastic, put-down-oriented world, camps aim to be an oasis of personal safety where demeaning comments and disrespectful behavior are not tolerated, and children are taught responsible and positive ways to resolve conflicts.”

But not everyone is a camp booster. Of the parents contacted, 39% do not think summer camp is important for their kids, including 12% who say it is not at all important.

Research contact: @Rasmussen_Poll

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