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May 24, 2024

Where Every Family Matters

Life Lessons Learned at Overnight Camp

“Human-powered” socialization, grit, teamwork and more make overnight camp exceptional for kids.


Photo at top: Camp Lincoln for Boys

Ask anyone who has ever been to overnight camp about his experience, and you will hear endless tales of camaraderie, cabin mates and campfires. Many times campers will say overnight camp was the first time they rode a horse or shot a bow and arrow or flew down a zip line. It’s where they learned to make their beds and keep their belongings together in cramped quarters.

With the perfect blend of adventure and responsibility, camp life teaches kids valuable lessons they can use for the rest of their lives. If you send your child to overnight camp, here are some life lessons he’s likely to learn.


Tom Rosenberg, president and CEO of the American Camp Association (ACA), says today’s kids spend so much time on technology that learning to communicate face-to-face with peers is imperiled.

He quotes a 2015 Pew Research Center study that says, “Just 25 percent of teens spend time with friends in person outside of the school day on a regular basis.”

In light of that statistic, overnight camp is a good place to get kids to socialize without technology.

“About 90 percent of camps don’t allow kids to have computers or cell phones,” says Rosenberg. “In general, camps are an oasis for human-powered socialization.”


For many kids, camp is the first time they are away from parents and the familiarity of home. While this may cause some homesickness, it also gives children an opportunity to overcome being homesick. And without parents there, children learn to pick up after themselves and keep up with their things.

Overnight camp can also prepare students for independence in their next steps in life, like trips abroad and college.


Sometimes it’s hard to live with other people, especially if other people drape their clothes all over your bed or hog the shower. And it’s not like kids can escape to their own room when they’re at summer camp because everyone bunks together in one cabin. But kids learn to work out differences about how they share their living spaces, and it’s more fun for campers to do the cabin chores together than alone. Once the “working out” of bunks is complete, everybody learns to live as a group. As kids grow up, this group experience pays huge dividends as they transition into adulthood in a community.

“That cabin group has community building at its core,” says Rosenberg.


Camp life doesn’t always go as planned, and kids learn to adapt and move with what’s happening around them. Campers grow more resilient from trying again after they fail, according to Rosenberg.

“Part of growing up is learning that you are not always going to be successful. Sometimes campers fail and counselors help them try again,” says Rosenberg. “Camp is a safe place to make mistakes.”

Going to overnight camp benefits kids in many other ways untold. It provides a place where kids can get out of their daily setting and have new adventures, meet new people and learn new skills. And while they are doing all of those things, they will probably learn a few life lessons that will stay with them forever.


About the Author

Janeen Lewis

Janeen Lewis is a freelance journalist and mom to Andrew and Gracie.