Reviews | Summer camp for all

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Not all kids will thrive at summer camp, and there are plenty of other ways to enjoy the outdoors and reap the benefits that come with socializing and playing.

But if America wanted it, it could make summer camp available to any child who wanted it.

There are camps that can serve almost any child with any interest: camps for kids who like to play sports or want to learn to sail or horseback ride, camps that offer weeks of hiking on along the Appalachian Trail or across the Utah desert, camps for children with disabilities or battling cancer or experiencing homelessness.

Rosenberg said day camps cost from free to over $200 a day, and prices for overnight camps range from free to over $500 a day. Although scholarships and reduced rates are available at most camps, the experience remains out of reach for many families. To grow, summer camp operators say they need a dedicated funding stream, increased philanthropic support and staffing assistance.

No one is suggesting that a few weeks of summer camp is a panacea. But researchers, educators and parents say the kind of experiences summer camps can provide — a safe, healthy space to play with children who are different from them and to build confidence in the great outdoors – can change children’s lives.

“Play is powerful medicine,” said Deborah Vilas, an educational consultant and instructor and expert in child-centered games at Bank Street College in Manhattan. “I want adults to know that play is necessary. It’s not frivolous. It’s not instead of learning. It is an apprenticeship. »

Much of the concern over the pandemic has centered, understandably, on learning loss. But strong academic research suggests that play is also an essential part of child development, contributing to empathy, healthy relationships, survival skills and self-regulation. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child regards play as an intrinsic right.

Like much of American life, access to safe and healthy play spaces is unequal and especially disadvantageous for Black and Latino children. A study, commissioned by the Hispanic Access Foundation and the Center for American Progress, found that nearly three-quarters of minorities in the contiguous United States live in communities that lack access to nature which includes air and pure water and a diverse fauna. Funding for summer enrichment and after-school programs — at least $1.2 billion — was included in the $1.9 trillion Covid relief package last year.

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