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How Summer Camp Helps Children Develop Self-Realization

Self-realization is part of growing up and can be described as “the complete realization of one’s potential which involves the full development of one’s abilities and appreciation for life” (Maslow,1962).

Summer camp encourages interpersonal growth in a way that few other experiences can for children of this age. It is a life experience that allows them to grow and learn more about themselves while making memories that they will treasure for a lifetime.

Below are seven proven ways that summer camp encourages self-realization:

1. Stepping Out of their Comfort Zone

It goes without saying that at summer camp, kids are way from home and thus outside of their comfort zones. At camp, children learn how to make decisions without relying on their parents. This is incredibly empowering and a step towards greater independence.

2. Building Team Work Skills

Camp is all about group activities. These activities teach children how to best work as a team. When most adults look back at their own time at summer camp, they remember the friendly competition that helped them work together as a team.

3. Structured Independence

Structure is a key ingredient in growing and maturing. The boundaries of the camp and the trained staff are all tools that will help build self-confidence, assertiveness, and courage. Campers get the feeling of having more freedom as they are away from home, but in a controlled setting.

4. Sparking an Interest in Exploration and Adventure

At summer camp, kids can try many things they may not have access to otherwise. They get to “try stuff on” to see what they really like and what they don’t. Some may love doing arts and crafts, while other kids will never want to leave the water. Some gravitate towards being the center of attention and performing/presenting in front of their peers, and others focus on learning a new skill, like sailing. Either way, campers are able to find a specific interest and fine-tune it, so they return home with a fierce appetite to learn more about it.

5. Encouragement to be themselves

Campers are at an age where they are still discovering who they are as individuals. Our staff are trained to notice individual qualities within the campers and encourage them to be who they are. We give leaders the chance to lead, thinkers are able to analyze, and creators are given the freedom to create!

6. Working Their Emotional Muscles

Every situation your child finds themselves in creates an emotional reaction, whether good or bad.  Children can be so different and operate at different levels of emotional maturity, even for children of the same age. Being in a different environment surrounded by diverse people allows children to “grow” their emotional muscles.

Campers can sometimes find themselves in situations they feel are difficult, such as dealing with homesickness, navigating new friendships or potentially getting their feelings hurt. With the aid of trusted camp counsellors, children talk through these situations and work through the rough patches to become stronger, wiser, and more confident individuals.

7. Navigating New Social Situations

Summer camp places your child in a different group situation than they normally see in their day-to-day lives at home. This helps teach them a plethora of social skills, including trust, teamwork, conflict management, and judgment.

There are social living quarters, team games, and activities and gatherings for all of the campers to attend, which lend to this. Campers will learn how to work with others and discover which parts of their personalities lend well to social situations. Shy children can even come out of their shell and discover that they love working in groups.


Above all, the summer camp experience is unmatched in how it brings self-awareness and realization to every child who experiences it.

For the last 100 years, YMCA Camp Kitchikewana has been offering a values-based camp experience on its site on Beausoleil Island in the beautiful Georgian Bay Islands National Park, out of Honey Harbour, Ontario. Camp Kitchikewana provides traditional summer camp programs for youth in July and August and programs for all ages in the Spring and Fall seasons. Each year, Camp Kitchikewana welcomes hundreds of campers to the island to learn, grow, and make memories that will last a lifetime.

For more information about our overnight camp, please visit

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