After 15 months of semi-seclusion, missed social opportunities, and frayed friendships, society has unintentionally created a mental health crisis for our children that we will be feeling for a very long time. The pandemic exacerbated an already dire situation created by too many screens and too much technology in the lives of young people.

This past September, students finally returned to school and many began acting out with antisocial behaviors, fights, emotional breakdowns, defiance, anxiety, and depression. Meanwhile, summer camps continue to offer an unique oasis, an opportunity to reset, a social-emotional vaccine. Those fortunate to attend camp last summer had the magical and energizing experience of regaining their childhood, outdoors, playing and interacting with peers again!

The record-setting enrollment at camps across North America has affirmed unequivocally that there is no better place for children and young adults to learn and regain their social-emotional equilibrium than at Summer Camp. Here’s what we observed at Southwoods:

1. Kids bounce back. Kids are resilient. They roll with the punches, learn from their mistakes, and when the bar is set high, with the right encouragement- they rise to the occasion!
2. Kids naturally make friends. Thousands of new campers arrived at camps last summer, and were naturally drawn towards one another; quickly building friendships, with their saved up love and empathy.
3. Kids love being outdoors. Always have. But after being forced indoors for so long, kids cared less about the bugs, the dirt and mud, the liquid sunshine, and even the heat! At Camp Southwoods, we jump into a picture-perfect lake each day, embracing nature like our ancestors have done for thousands of years!
4. Kids don’t need screens to enjoy themselves. Camp Southwoods has been a screen-free haven since day one, from the moment they step off into the Adirondacks. You’d think that after so much screen time at home, that kids would be jonesing for their phones/tablets/TVs… Nope. Playing outside with their friends, and hanging in their bunks is WAY more engaging. At the end of the summer, Campers actually THANK US for providing an electronic-free, stress-free utopia!

Camp Southwoods provides a unique opportunity to be part of a safe, supportive, loving community where young people are celebrated for who they are, while becoming the best versions of themselves. Campers return summer after summer, eventually becoming camp counselors themselves and paying it forward to the next incoming class of campers!

There are great Day Camps out there, but they admittedly cannot accomplish in 7 hours what sleepaway camps accomplish in 24. Besides going away to college, there’s nothing like living 24-7 with a group of kind peers and caring staff, while being guided by our principals of Family, Fun, Teamwork, Confidence & Kindness… without parent intervention.

Whether you dip your toe in the lake with two weeks, go for our standard 4, or stretch it out to a full 6, your child will come home a changed person, having gained confidence through independence and accomplishments they will remember for the rest of their lives. Thank you for considering the gift of sleepaway camp for your child. As a parent, you really couldn’t do anything better for them at this stage of their life.

Andy Pritikn is a partner of Camp Southwoods, and past president of the American Camp Association, NY/NJ.

Camp Southwoods in the News: Camp-Southwoods-Press-Release-March 28, 2022