While innumerable things have changed in our world in the last year, no virus can stop the seasons from changing. From this vantage point in March, we’re all dreaming of spring, but parents know there’s something slightly more ominous looming in the horizon: summer. Two or three whole months of no school, and these days, little social interaction outside the house. But since the 1870s, parents have been turning to the most active possible solution to keep their kids engaged during the hottest months…summer camp!
Connecticut has a long history with summer camps, with the first American summer camp having been founded in Gunnery, CT just after the Civil War. The idea caught fire and in a less than 20-year period around the turn of the century the number of summer camps in the United States rose from 100 to over 1,000. These first camps were all about removing children from urban environments to reconnect with nature, and this kind of summer camp hasn’t changed all that much since. But after WWII, parents were eager to return their children to a more innocent time and summer camps had a second boom—this time with a wider range of variety as special-interest camps such as sports camps and arts camps popped up all over the country.
But what has made the summer camp an American institution? The skills taught at summer camps—be it outdoorsmanship or art forms like dance—have always been only part of the equation. The Harvard Graduate School of Education puts it this way: “All those classic camp dynamics—being away from home and parents, making new friends, being part of a team, and trying new things—are building blocks to crucial social-emotional [learning (or SEL)] skills.” Foundational, SEL skills include “self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision making” and have been found to be crucial for both success in school and in later, professional life. But, unfortunately, due to the restraints placed on teachers by state-mandated curriculums, we often see this type of learning not prioritized in the classroom. Americans have been turning to a solution outside of school for 150 years now, and we have the data to back it up: a 2005 study conducted by the American Camp Association found consistent and significant growth in SEL skills (and self-confidence) in children after only a single summer camp session!
As important as SEL skills are, there’s another factor that’s helped give summer camps such staying power: the physical benefits. The majority of summer camps have always included a focus on physical activity, and in our increasingly digitized world, finding a healthy and active outlet for kids is more important than ever. We all know that our country has been facing issues for years when it comes to the health of younger generations—but it turns out summer camp could be of help. In a 2011 edition of the Journal of Adolescence, a study reported that adolescents with no organized summer activities were at the greatest risk of obesity, while a 2010 study found that day camp campers who were exposed to active peers and active teachers were more likely to be physically active even after camp ended. While a week of physical activity is definitely good, the way camps instill the habit of exercise is even better!
While our registered dancers here at SRL Irish Dance Academy (from Beginner level up!) know all about how fun one of our summer camps can be, what about someone who’s never attended an Irish dance class? Don’t worry, we have a great option for even the newest dancer, as well! SRL is hosting two, week-long “Intro to Irish Dance” Summer Camps this year. Each week consists of five straight days of one class a day (at work-friendly times for parents!) to give new dancers a real feel for our year-long programs. The best part? Until May 1st, SRL is running a deal that will carry you into the school/dance year: sign up for this "Intro" Camp and we'll include a free four-week Taster Session in September (and wave your registration fee when your dancer falls in love with Irish dance and insists on signing up!)
This camp is multipurpose, for not only will it ease any parent’s mind about how interested their child is in Irish dance before enrolling for the year, but it will provide that social and physical outlet kids need every summer (but this one especially!) Even if your child finds out Irish dance isn’t right for them, they’ll still be invited into a fun, welcoming environment, taught to stretch and move their body in new ways, and be able to interact with their peers as both team mates and friends while they increase their self-esteem by learning a new skill. We’ve been holding classes in our clean, appropriately socially-distanced studio since September without any issue, and are excited to introduce your child to the world of Irish dance!
We could go on and on about the benefits of starting dance early (and we already have! check out our post about it,) but the real takeaway from SRL’s intro program is the same as any camp: increasing your child’s SEL skills while allowing them to express themselves in a healthy way and have fun! This opportunity creates a break from technology, lets them develop a sense of independence, let all that silly energy out, and have more and varied social interactions. And, not to mention, it gives parents a much-needed break, too!
Learn more about our “Intro to Irish Dance" Summer Camp—with a special discount (and additional savings!) running until May 1st! Or feel free to reach out by phone or email (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more info. We look forward to dancing with you soon!
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