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Keeping it Moving: The Benefits of Physical Activity at Summer Camp

By: Jenny Whichard ’92, Director of SummerEdge
Girl throwing a dodgeball in the gym Girl throwing a dodgeball in the gym

The sudden pivot last spring to a more virtual way of life has meant increased screen time for us all. This has been especially true for children. That’s why now more than ever, fitting physical activity into their daily lives is key for improving every child’s overall health. And while enrollment into a one-sport specific team program might be the right summer choice for some children, it certainly isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer nor does it have to be the only option for exercise.

Camp Mustang at SummerEdge offers a friendly space for children of all athletic abilities to participate in a mix of traditional sports like flag football, soccer, and hockey each week.

These are blended with PE-related games, time to work on individual athletic skills and drills, and even field trips. We keep kids moving and encourage them to step outside of their comfort zones by trying a sport they might not otherwise have considered. Children who have a particular interest in one sport can use the time at Camp Mustang to improve their skills without the pressure of an intensive sports program. In addition, children who don’t gravitate towards a specific sport can still have fun simply by participating in the many other physical activities Camp Mustang has to offer.

So why encourage your child to get moving during the summer?

Health Benefits

According to the CDC, regular physical activity can help children and adolescents improve cardiorespiratory fitness, build strong bones and muscles, control weight, reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, and reduce the risk of developing health conditions. Being physically active can even promote other healthy habits–like incorporating more nutritious foods into diets. These are healthy habits that children can benefit from throughout their lives. By encouraging campers to integrate movement into their summer, a healthy lifestyle routine is created that can carry into the school year and beyond.

Academic Benefits

Physical activity also improves a child’s cognitive development and mental health. Children who include movement into their day can heighten their focus, build confidence, and enhance their self-esteem. Participation in extracurricular physical activities has been shown to benefit a child’s academic performance in numerous recent studies. In fact, 11 of 14 studies found one or more positive associations between physical activity and indicators of cognitive skills and attitudes, academic behavior, and/or academic achievement. Simply put–kids who are more physically active tend to have higher GPA’s, are more focused in the classroom, and have more academic self-confidence.

Social-Emotional Benefits

Camp Mustang staff members always note the many positive changes in their campers during their time with them. Among these have been a noticeable reduction in stress, a general boost to campers’ overall moods, and increase in self-confidence.

When we asked campers what their favorite part of Camp Mustang was, aside from the activities, most of them responded with: the friendships they created. Being physically active while learning and enjoying their favorite sports and activities together creates a wonderful environment for building friendships. Children learn the importance of teamwork by having a shared goal and working together to achieve that goal. Meeting peers who have similar interests creates bonds leading to lasting friendships. Not only can an athletic camp improve peer-to-peer and relationships, it can also help with peer-to-adult interactions. Coaches and camp counselors become mentors for children to emulate as they learn to define themselves. Children are able to learn what it means to be a good leader and teammate, from their coaches.

All children need physical activity in order to maintain healthy bodies, minds, and spirits. But it doesn’t have to be a chore to fit movement into their day. It can and should always be about having fun, learning important skills, and building lasting friendships.

Are you ready to sign up for Camp Mustang, or have any questions? Feel free to contact us  or give us a call at 240.395.0676 today!