Enjoy this portion of a blog by Todd Kestin LCSW, Life Skills Mentor. Since Junior's birth, you've been socking away savings from every paycheck to ensure he has money for college. After all, that's what responsible parents do, right? Making sure he has the education to prepare him for the workforce, to care for himself and his family...? When he leaves for college, your heart swells with pride, hope... and a little trepidation. Will he do well? Is he ready for all that freedom? Will he make the most of your investment? Two semesters later, he comes home whipped, defeated, demoralized. While he had the grades to get into that Ivy League college, he didn't have the life skills to succeed. There's more to preparing for adulthood than academic education. I believe if kids spent their summers in camp, they'd be better prepared for later decisions like whether to go to college, and how to make the best life for who they are. Kids, especially teens, need mentors they trust, separate from their parents. These role models provide guidance and help them prepare for their adult lives by helping them lay the foundation now. I started camp as a 10-year-old, and didn't stop till I was in my 20s. Though many may view this as parents getting rid of kids for the summer, my parents told me it was an investment to set me up to be a more independent, confident person. They were so right. Camp taught me how to grow up. It taught me to take responsibility, and the importance of meaningful relationships in life. Before I started attending camp I had friends, but no significant relationships that I viewed as important. In fact, I had no idea what that even meant. I didn't need to be "cool" at camp. It was the first place I could truly be myself, and was accepted for who I was. In fact, I felt pretty cool for the first time. My self-esteem was boosted, my confidence increased, and I learned about investing myself in things that matter. An interesting thing happens at camp when kids are taken out of their usual environment. The rules change. Everything changes. Authenticity is rewarded. Responsibility is cool. Maturity adds clout. If it weren't for camp, I would never have been ready for college, which led to graduate school, and the mentoring career I enjoy now. It was a natural progression that began in camp. Without this type of experience, kids often flounder through their teens and early twenties, unsure how to:
- Choose valuable friends
- Make decisions for their lives and
- Have the confidence to pursue their dreams.