Experts Say Summer Camps Improve Parent-Child Relationships

Jun 09, 2011, 08:00 ET from University of the Rockies

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., June 9, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- According to the American Camping Association (ACA), there are more than 6,000 overnight camps and 12,000 day camps in the U.S and more than eight million children attend camp each summer.

Dr. Dallas Stout, faculty member at University of the Rockies, says that while summer camps provide an atmosphere that fosters growth and an environment where children begin to develop self-esteem, they are not the only ones who benefit from summer camps.  Parents benefit from sending their child to camp because they are able to establish stronger relationships built on trust with their children.

A parent's natural inclination to remain in daily contact with their children has the opposite effect on the child's and parent's development.  Many camps have a technology "ban" or strongly encourage children to leave their cell phones at home.  Dr. Stout reiterates that encouraging your child to break the rules and sneak their phone into camp so they can talk or text is detrimental on a variety of levels.  Sneaking in a mobile device opens the door for the child to disengage with other campers and robs them of the whole experience.

Summer camp provides children with a critical opportunity to disconnect from electronics and allows them to appreciate nature, physical activity, and the bonding time with peers.  "Considering how little 'electronic down time' kids actually have these days, this is critical," states Dr. Stout.  

According to Dr. Stout, the relationship between parents and their children also grows while the child is away.  "I think it's good for parents and kids to have some space from each other from time to time.  Camp provides a good opportunity for emotional growth that may not occur at home."

However, going away to camp for the first time can be daunting for a child.  Dr. Stout feels the most critical aspect of preparation is for Mom and Dad to actually believe their child will have a wonderful experience at camp.  Any discussion about camp should be upbeat and positive, focusing on fun and learning.

Some parents concerns are that their child isn't ready for summer camp or doesn't have the personality best suited to enjoy camp.  Dr. Stout reminds parents that "camp is good for all kids, even troubled kids or those who struggle with school can do very well in outdoor situations.  I think adults need to stop thinking in terms of who can't or shouldn't go to camp and instead look for ways they can."  

As children continue to grow into becoming young adults it is important for them to feel independent and have self-confidence, but even more important is having a strong and healthy relationship with their parents.  While it may seem that the archery, swimming, theatre, dance, acting, and art camps may just be for the child attending, the parent's relationship with their child also grows in a positive direction.  When a child comes home from day camp or a weeklong resident camp, they are excited to see their parents and tell them about all of the friends they made, the fun activities they participated in, and what they learned.  The child will bring the parent into their lives on a deeper emotional level which will create stronger bonds as the child grows into young adulthood.

About Dr. Dallas Stout

Dallas M. Stout, Psy.D. has worked in the Southern California non-profit community for most of the last 20 years. Dr. Stout is also on the faculty of California State University Fullerton and the University of the Rockies where he teaches a variety of undergrad and graduate courses. Dr. Stout earned his Doctorate in Clinical Psychology at Azusa Pacific University where he graduated with special recognition for his work with troubled youth and their families. His interests in psychology include troubled teens (including substance abuse, violence and gangs), mentoring, personal motivation, leadership, & cultural diversity.

About University of the Rockies

University of the Rockies is a graduate school specializing in master's and doctorate degree programs in the social and behavioral sciences. Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (, classes are offered online and at the University's Colorado Springs, Colorado, campus. For more information, please visit or call Shari Rodriguez, associate vice president of Public Relations, at 866.621.0124 x2513.

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SOURCE University of the Rockies