by Lisa van de Ven
Children are figuring out their interests and developing talents. They also begin to understand the effects their actions and words can have, and are developing more intricate codes of behaviour, fueled by a stronger sense of right and wrong.
• Keeping up with peers
• Earning the admiration of role models
• Finding their way around a new environment
At this age, children are starting to develop their own skill sets. Camp offers a chance to experience new things, helping them to determine where their talents and interests lie.
"They’re learning through doing," says Blaine Seamone, director of Discovery Day Camp in Richmond Hill. "And in doing that they're … working in groups or with a partner, so they do develop a lot of friendships."
Seven-year-old Cassandra has been attending camp since she was three, and has spent the last two summers at Discovery Day Camp, a traditional day camp that lets children choose a specialty, supplemented by swimming and a range of other activities besides. So, while she may still have had plenty of time to improve her swimming, she could focus on developing her skills in the activities she enjoys most. Last year, that meant lots of time spent learning to dance, while this year she tried her hand at drawing.
During her time at camp, she made some real progress. "She brought home a painting that was perspective painting," says her mother, Ann Bianco-Harvey. "That’s something you wouldn’t learn until later. But they don’t pre-judge what a child can learn, they leave it open."
With her older sister, Bianca, attending the same camp, Cassandra wasn’t nervous when she was first enrolled, her mother explains, and both were used to taking on a range of extracurricular activities so had no trouble choosing specialties. And, by the end of camp, Cassandra still loved what she had chosen. She’d also made great friends and even had a favourite counsellor.
Asked if she’ll be heading back next summer, Cassandra offers a resounding "Yep,"—sure praise from a seven-year-old.
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