Growing up, most of my summertime memories revolved around summer camp. Like many kids, I attended day camp at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale. I credit a lot to those summers, most of which I spent on the basketball court or baseball field, but not for making me a professional athlete — because I’m not. I credit those summers for providing me with experiences that helped shaped the person I am today.
Today, that person is the director of club services for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale (BGCGS). It has been more than 15 years since I was a BGCGS camper, and now I get the pleasure of helping create these experiences for the next generation. And while the major appeal of summer camp – freedom, fun and friends — remains the same, the world has changed a lot since I was a camper, making this adolescent rite of passage more than just a way to spend time between grades. Now that the summer is reaching its end, I am again reminded of the important role summer camps plays during childhood.
At the BGCGS, we design summers to provide the most benefit to our campers through programs and activities that will keep kids engaged. Each activity our campers participate in help to develop important life skills as we strive to provide a program that allows kids a variety of experiences.
The goal of BGCGS’s summer camps is to provide:
Confidence and socialization
Summer camps provide kids time with their peers in structured, yet relaxed social environments. Unlike typical grade schools, cliques are not as developed in camps, allowing barriers to come down and social skills to grow. Without the normal pressures of social expectations, kids are more likely to try new experiences. I have seen campers begin their summers shy and reserved, only to take center stage later during the camp talent show. Developing their confidence will help them in all aspects of their lives.
Club sports are one of the BGCGS’s most recognized programs. While these programs run year-round and summer camp offers a variety of sports for campers to participate in, not all children are drawn to athletics. To keep kids excited about exercise, we set up obstacle courses, have “water battle” days and take field trips to swimming pools.
Creativity and the arts
With art programs often the first cut from a school’s budget, many children are not exposed to the creative outlets they so desperately need. Our arts and crafts are among the most enjoyed activities the kids partake in, but we take it beyond construction paper. From set-building to pirate ship construction, we challenge creative minds to think outside the box.
Education and technology
Kids today are the most tech savvy of any generation, but summer months can mean hours in front of video games or online. We get our campers to unplug from video games and plug into technology. We offer classes in digital photography, graphic design and music production, teaching our children that computers can be useful and fun outside the gaming world.
Parents a piece of mind
While school-aged children get three months of freedom in the summer, most parents do not. With many parents working full-time, the BGCGS ensure those parents know their children are not only safe, but also somewhere their children enjoy. Keeping kids engaged while out of school lowers their risk of getting into trouble — something often associated with boredom.
To a child and the majority of the outside world, summer camp is little more than a fun way to fill time. But, to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale campers, parents and staff, it is so much more.