The Benefits of Summer Camp for Different Ages

Worrying that your child either isn’t ready for overnight camp or won’t enjoy the experience might give you pause before hitting the register button. But you can rest assured knowing that camp programs are designed to address the physical, emotional and social needs of children at all ages and stages. What’s more, regardless of their age, you can look forward to your child coming home an even better version — if that’s even possible — of the person you already know and love!

Muskoka Woods welcomes guests as young as six years old and provides programming right up until they’re nearly finished high school. Here’s how we think kids benefit from camp at all the different ages.

Wild (Ages 6-8)

Before camp
The biggest concern for our Wild guests — and parents — is whether they’ll be able to handle being separated from their loved ones overnight. Many younger guests are also afraid of the dark and on top of all that, many parents worry about their young kids managing things like eating balanced meals and remembering to apply sunscreen.

After camp
Thanks to counsellors and instructors who are specifically attuned to the needs of little kids, your child will come away from the week safely — no sunburns to be had! — and with heaps of confidence at having stood on their own two feet. Importantly, many Wild guests will have communicated with their counsellors and peers without their parents guidance — for the first time — leading to the development of important social skills.

Venture (Ages 9-10)

Before camp
Many kids experience their first sleepover camp around eight or nine and it’s most likely because not only do they want to go, but parents feel like they’re ready to go. This article from Parent.com explains that, developmentally, this is the “magic age” for sleep-away camp because kids have developed the ability to reason and their world isn’t so black and white. At this age kids also start to develop the physicality and desire to try activities that aren’t typically available to them.

After camp
At Muskoka Woods our Venture guests experience a wide range of activities, so they are able to experiment and see what their preferences are — not to mention the boost in self-confidence that comes from having mastered a new skill. They also leave having made strong bonds with their cabin mates, and importantly, counsellors who serve as role models other than their parents.

Junior High (Ages 11-12)

Before camp
Tweens are just that — in between childhood and adolescence — and are looking for independence from their parents. Friendships become increasingly important at this age as does fitting in with their friends.

After camp
The Junior High program at Muskoka Woods grants 10- and 11-year-olds the independence that they crave, but in a safe and controlled environment. They learn to be self-reliant and gain a greater sense of responsibility — which could come in handy around the house!

Senior High (Ages 13-14)

Before camp
Kids at this age are more focused and have a better idea of the hobbies and activities that appeal to them. They continue to strive for independence and are on a quest to define their place in the world while earning the acceptance of their peers.

After camp
Senior High guests at Muskoka Woods enjoy a program tailored specifically to their age group and as the second-oldest guests at camp, they get to participate in the rite of passage that is Kamati! This age group will leave having learned lessons about acceptance and tolerance as they make friends with a diverse group of cabin mates during their time away.

Crew (Ages 15-16)

Before camp
At this age, young people start prioritizing friendships over family — it hurts, but as we know, it’s also completely normal. Young teens are also looking to challenge themselves mentally and physically as part of figuring out who they are.

After camp
Muskoka Woods offers space for their Crew guests to hang out where, without the technology that kids this age are often reliant on outside of camp, they’re able to forge those meaningful lifelong relationships that overnight camp has a reputation for starting. In Crew, the world is your teen’s oyster, with a variety of activities accessible to our oldest guests, giving them the opportunity to push themselves and perhaps discover a passion or skill that they’ll develop into the future.

Regardless of your child’s age, attending overnight camp accelerates their understanding and adoption of valuable skills that they’ll use for the rest of their life — all while having the time of their life.

Visit www.muskokawoods.com to learn more.

About the Author

Paul Cade has been a part of Muskoka Woods since his first summer as guest in 1996. He spent time working in the kitchen, on Water Ski Staff, as the General Athletics Area Head, as a Staff Coach and an Athletic Director for three years. Paul graduated with a Recreation and Leisure Studies diploma at Humber College and was a recent graduate of the Arrow Leadership program. He has been overseeing the Muskoka Woods Summer Camp since 2016 and prior to that he spent 6 years working as a full-time youth pastor in Oakville and Ajax. Paul has a passion for developing young leaders for today and the future. Paul met the love of his life Victoria at Muskoka Woods in 2006. They are married with three young children.

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