School’s out, camps in

School’s out, camps in

With summer vacations in full swing, children have a lot of energy which can be utilised if invested in the right place and in the right way. It can be hard to keep children occupied and entertained at home as they get done with their summer homework in a week or two, and their parents remain busy in the office and house chores. How much can parents play with their children in a day? And how many activities can they design that will allow the kids to gain exposure and knowledge?

Summer camps are a great way to introduce your child to different sports, exciting games and, of course, new friends. Different institutions have started offering innovative summer camps for keeping the students intact with the learning activities in attractive ways. But finding the right camp, especially in Pakistan can be a challenge. The last thing you want is to worry about is if your children are enjoying themselves or not. In this regard You! talks to some teachers and organisers about the importance of summer camps in Pakistan…

“Summer camps are the perfect way for children to explore their own interests and find enjoyment within the experience. When children are told to engage in an activity for academic merit it decreases their motivation, whereas when these activities are pursued for enjoyment, children will be more likely to continue to engage in it without a fuss,” says Sara Naqvi, who has worked at summer camps for a collective of four summers, and is currently in the middle of one in Italy.

Parents believe that summer camps are highly beneficial for the kids in terms of boosting their confidence out of classroom environment. Some schools are offering excellent activities which are good to engage the students in healthy activities instead of giving them electronic gadgets.

14-year-old Faiza learned the skill of dancing and swimming through the summer programme offered at her school last year. “I used to look forward to going to the camp everyday as these were activities which I really enjoyed doing. I also had amazing and fun teachers who made the learning process very easy and enjoyable.” Not only did these activities help Faiza stay active and engaged, it also helped her out of sitting idle at home and away from gadgets.

On the other hand, even though 13-year-old Shariya spends all her time on her phone, she is still able to develop and learn a new skill. She is currently enrolled for a short course in Video Editing which is offered during the summers. “I spend most of my time on the phone looking at various Instagram handles. I get inspired by a lot of creators there, which piqued my interest in editing. And fortunately, my family got me enrolled in this course which I am very excited about.” This is something which isn’t taught in her regular classes but it is something she is keen on learning. In this way, Shariya is able to spend her time productively by learning a new skill.

However, there are some parents with the belief that these camps are a futile exercise and a waste of time and money. They think that this is just another tactic for the private schools to mint money from the parents as they charge hefty amounts by only engaging children in ordinary activities. “With a huge income gap it’s hard to cultivate camps which are accessible to the majority of the population,” states Sara. She thinks that the lack of public funding regarding programmes that build community support lead to a lack of summer camps within Karachi. “Schools can play a very vital role. They can encourage and arrange summer camps,” states Faryal Hussain, a principal of an esteemed educational institute. She has been part of the educational field for 30 years. She strongly believes that these camps can prove beneficial for the children in many ways. “Summer camps help improve social skills on the bases of one to one physical interaction. They learn to socialise, communicate and cooperate with each other,” she explains.

Only a small number of places offer summer camps and programmes which is also a contributing factor towards some parents not being in favour of them. “I feel that camps in Pakistan can pick up a more organised infrastructure. For example, employ specialists for each activity the camp offers in order to assist the counsellors. Additionally, providing camps to a wider range of incomes and abilities,” tells Sara Naqvi.

Different studies have proved that the summer camps play good role in nurturing the self-confidence in the children, independence, environmental awareness and learning about different situations. “Summer camps tap into a child’s ability in a different way than schools do, allowing them to explore a variety of ways to use their brains. This advances their academia as it allows them to take new approaches to solving problems in an academic setting. For example, my camp here in Italy uses games such as ‘Wordle’ to teach the kids English,” she informs.

“Summer camps are informal way of imparting knowledge. As there are no assessments, kids may find that gaining knowledge can be fun. It can be a source of teaching children to be a little independent, as there is no pressure to excel. A child gains the confidence to be who he/she really is,” Faryal weighs in.

“Summer vacations are the best time to inculcate skills among our children like swimming, creative writing, acting, music and others, and these camps offer just that. Those kind of activities should be introduced which are normally not part of school curriculum. There should be more hands on kind of activities and out of the box which are more practical. For example, star gazing or camping where different kind of knowledge is gained,” adds Faryal.

“I think we should introduce more fun activities, learning different languages, different skills and different games in summer camps so that kids will be attracted towards them and can learn more things,” comments Rabab, a school teacher who conducts art summer camps.

“A good way can be to involve the entire body and mind of the child. You can have cooking, carpentry, basic coding, electrics, cycling, rollerblading, skating, etc. You can also have academic enrichment classes but done in a fun way. For example, Maths can be taught in a fun way, you could handover 100 rupees to the children and instruct them to buy ingredients to prepare a meal. Through this they learn budgeting, addition and subtraction, and how to spend money,” explains Ainee Shehzad, an educator.

Camp helps children connect to the joy of life beyond the screen. In all camp programmes, children will have endless opportunities to engage their minds in ways they’ll enjoy. “In the digital age where screens occupy such a major chunk of a child’s time and life, the facility to meet the students, young or old, really improves on their social skills and they learn how to attain the skills which human beings were meant to attain. Summer camps in a subtle, conscious, unconscious and subconscious way promote these kinds of skills which go a long way,” stresses Ainee.

“Kids love to make friends and sometimes they are unable to do so for different reasons. These camps provide them the opportunity to go to a new place, new environment and have fun with other kids and learn social values,” remarks Rabab.

As these kids grow older, they will realise the importance of teamwork. But at an early age, these children will have an understanding that working with a team sometimes, is the most efficient way of getting things done. “It influences their social skills in amazing ways! Because children must collaborate on most activities so regardless of their personalities, they are all conversing and working together to form a common goal,” points out Sara.

No matter what your child’s interests are, whether it be sports or arts and crafts, a camp programme will engage them in activities that require teamwork. Knowing how to work in a team is a useful skill for life. “At summer camps, the ability to communicate, collaborate and work in teams is introduced which is a required skill to survive in today’s world. Sadly, we don’t know how to work in teams; we don’t know how to work with one another. Most of the times, they’re working against one another. The idea that the success of everyone is important for each one should be learned by children,” highlights Ainee.

The benefits of summer day camp or overnight camp are endless and can last a lifetime. Not only will your child return from camp with greater independence and a stronger sense of identity, but they will also have developed new skills, made new friends and created memories they will cherish forever.

Summer camp activities you can include

There are many different activities that can be introduced at these camps which are fun, interactive and educational at the same time. People learn how to work in teams and support each other in a task. We have curated a list of few summer camp activities for kids of all ages that can be enjoyable and teach the kids something at the same time.

Connect with nature: It is truly important for kids to have a bond with nature. And to do this, there are various different ways which can make them appreciate and connect with nature. Kids like to play in the dirt, so you can use that yearning to make a garden. Take fast-growing seeds, such as green beans, and allow the kids everyday to work on their patch in the garden. They will learn the importance of food and how difficult it is to grow and process so that they won’t waste it. Another activity is making birdfeeders. The kids can make them in different shapes with different materials. This way the kids are making something which is useful, and they are taught to be sustainable.

Get artsy: To bring out the creativity in a person, activity centred on spray painting is the perfect way to get those creative juices flowing. One of the easiest and best summer camp ideas is T-Shirt painting or tie-dyeing. It will be quite surprising to see some of the whacky and original ideas that will flow from individuals. Another creative activity can be crayon rubbing. Kids love to paint with colourful crayons and make wonderful textures and designs. Crayon painting lets the kids relax and paint according to their imagination without competing with each other.

Be a team player: Teamwork is an important skill which should be instilled an every individual. You can have the children working with each other through different games and projects. Start a camp newspaper; divide the sections among different kids. Let them brainstorm the section they like such as news articles, sports, editorials, stories, etc. Allow them to add extra activities in the newspaper, be it the daily crosswords or riddles. Making friendship bracelets is a popular activity and is done by kids. Making hand-made stuff always excites the kids. This requires making innovative stuff literally out of nothing but just imagination.

Courtesy: Published at The News on July 7, 2022

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