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July 31, 2012 > Obama girls join more than 10 million children learning life skills at U.S. summer camps

Obama girls join more than 10 million children learning life skills at U.S. summer camps

Submitted By American Camp Association(r)

With both First Daughters, Malia and Sasha, at overnight camp for a month this summer, President and Mrs. Obama join the millions of American parents who annually choose a summer camp experience for their children, even if it means being a little kid-sick while the kids are away from home. The nonprofit American Camp Association(r) (ACA) supports all parents who recognize the value of the camp experience with research, resources, and helpful information about preparing for camp at its family-focused Web site, www.CampParents.org.

Benefits of camp include building life skills that can help children succeed in the workplace and as productive adults, while research by ACA shows that children participating in camp life and activities learn and practice skills such as collaboration, communication, problem-solving, conflict-resolution, leadership, teamwork, independence, and resiliency. "Camp has been essential to the education of the whole child for 152 years," says Peg Smith, CEO of the American Camp Association.

According to ACA's Youth Development Outcomes study, conducted with over 5,000 families with children in more than eighty ACA-accredited camps, in conjunction with Philliber Research Associates and with generous support from Lilly Endowment Inc., children also learn how to make and reinforce human connections, which is particularly important in the Digital Age, when kids are more likely to make friends electronically. Ninety-six percent of campers said that camp helped them make new friends. Ninety-two percent of campers reported that camp helped them feel good about themselves. Correspondingly, parents reported that children gained self-confidence at camp (70 percent) and continued to stay in contact with camp friends (69 percent). Other findings from recent camp research include that youth showed increases in social acceptance, connectedness, responsibility, confidence, empowerment, citizenship, and nature stewardship, as well as engaged in physical activity at much higher levels while at camp than their non-camp peers.

"The Obamas decision to send Malia to camp again, and to send Sasha to camp for the first time, sends a very positive message to parents," says Smith. "Camp is a safe and supportive environment where children can develop authentic relationships, unplug from technology, connect with nature, and participate in human-powered activities. Camp allows children to relax and enjoy just being kids. There is a camp experience for every child, whether they live in the White House or anywhere in America. More than 10 million children will attend camp this summer, and the ACA community of more than 9,000 members hopes that all parents will be inspired to learn more about camp and give their children the gift of camp."

The wide range of available camp experiences offers something for every family and every budget. Using ACA's Find a Camp search engine at www.CampParents.org, families can search camps by geography, gender, session length, tuition, traditional or special interest, special needs, and more. Parents can also find contact information for ACA member camps and suggested questions to ask camp directors; ACA recommends that parents always contact camp directors first to make sure the camp is a good fit for their child.

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