Kids Discover Their Potential at Summer Camp

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Life is hard. We know this, and yet so many children grow up sheltered from hardships, as their well-meaning parents unknowingly hold them back. In Adam Grant’s book, “Hidden Potential,” (2023) he lays out the importance of children working through tough situations, to build the character skills needed to be a successful adult.

Grant explains, “Character is often confused with personality, but personality is your basic instincts for how to think, feel, and act.” It’s more than having principles. Character is the learned ability to live by your principles.

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While I’m not advocating suffering, children do need to experience and learn from the inevitable challenges they encounter, in order to strengthen their inner-resilience.

“Successful people of character are able to overcome life’s hurdles because they learn how to get comfortable being uncomfortable.”

Starting something new – Summer Camp, college, or a new job, can be an impactful challenge. Of course, kids would rather sit home and stare at their screens! But we know better, and it’s our job to teach kids to push beyond their perceived limits and cultivate the confidence and courage to abandon their comfort zone.

Facing fears, and confronting discomfort are skills that if not strengthened in childhood, may never be gained as an adult.

In the alarming new book about A.I., “The Coming Wave,” (2023,) author Mustafa Suleyman explains how during times of exponential technological growth, “those that survive are the ones best able to adapt.”

Like it or not, technology is replacing everything it possibly can, making interpersonal HUMAN skills the priority for future generations.

Yes, Summer Camp is a lot of fun, but equally as important, are learning and honing character skills like meeting new people, trying new things, speaking up, and asking questions. Toss in some extreme heat, and the opportunity to experience life without digital screens, and Summer Camp can prove to be a seriously impactful, building block of experiences.

Andy Pritikin is the owner/director of Liberty Lake Day Camp in Bordentown, past president of the American Camp Association New York/New Jersey, and host of “The Day Camp Podcast.

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