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By Sarah Laury, LCSW – May 7

Growing up, one of my favorite parts of summer was going away to summer camp. I counted down the days until school was out and I could start packing for camp. I loved meeting new friends, singing camp songs, learning about nature, and all of the camp games and activities.

I enjoyed returning summer after summer to see the friends that I had met the previous year and the camp counselors that I had gotten to know over the years. As a kid, I loved camp because of the friendships and experiences it offered. I had no idea that I was gaining important life skills that would benefit me throughout my adolescence and into adulthood. 

Most kids today spend around 180 days a year in a structured school environment. Many schools offer 20 minutes or less of recess per day, and most middle schools don’t offer recess at all. Kids are going home to a heavy workload of homework and then sitting in front of the television or playing video games.

According to a study by Common Sense Media, kids between the ages of 8 and 12 spend nearly 6 hours a day on some type of technology. In contrast, the average kid spends only 4-7 minutes playing outside. These numbers show a dramatic shift from the way time was spent by kids a couple of decades ago. 

The number of kids diagnosed with anxiety, depression, and ADHD has skyrocketed over the past couple of decades. Some experts believe that there is a correlation between the amount of screen time that kids are exposed to as well as lack of time spent playing outside and the rising rates of mental health issues among kids today.

Kids are stimulated by nature in ways that can never be replicated with screen time or video games. In nature, kids are generally more active and are using their imagination to engage in creative play and exploration.   

Another benefit of summer camp is the opportunity to be part of a community and develop social skills and relationships. In our society, much “socializing” among adolescents and teens is done over social media. At camp, kids are forming relationships and practicing social skills with their peers face-to-face in a community setting.

Most camps focus heavily on relationship building through ice breakers and team building activities. These activities allow kids to develop social skills, work cooperatively with their peers, feel a sense of belonging, and increase self-esteem.

As parents, we have to decide how much freedom we are going to give our kids to make their own decisions and solve their own problems. Decision making and problem-solving skills are both invaluable life skills.

At camp, children are presented with many decisions every day. Most importantly, kids are also exposed to the consequences of the decisions they make. For instance, if they choose to wear their wet socks from yesterday instead of the clean socks in their duffle bag, their feet will probably hurt. Do they try the high ropes course that they have repeatedly fallen off of one more time or do they give up? 

Trying new things (and trying again when they don’t succeed) is what builds resiliency and self-confidence in kids.  Summer camp is the perfect venue for developing these important life skills.   

By Sarah Laury, LCSW, May 22, 2018 – Courier & Press

The countdown to summer has officially begun.  There are only a few short weeks until school is out for the summer.

Many families look forward to the days of swimming, relaxing, and vacationing.  Most are also excited about sleeping in, staying up late, and taking a break from the daily grind of homework and packing lunches.

For some families, though, summer break can come as a financial and logistical hardship.  During the school year many families rely on the national school lunch and breakfast program.  With this program, families can take advantage of subsidized school breakfasts and lunches to help lighten the financial load that comes with feeding their families.

In addition to the meal programs, many families count on afterschool programs to provide a safe and structured environment for their kids in the afternoons.   This time of year many families are scrambling to make arrangements for child care and making financial preparations for the increased cost that comes with kids being home for the summer.

Our community has several resources in place that families can access to help alleviate some of this strain and hopefully allow for a more relaxed and enjoyable summer.

The EVSC has a free summer lunch program for children ages 18 and under that runs Monday – Friday throughout the summer.  From May 30 – June 30, lunch will be served at Cedar Hall, Dexter, Evans, Fairlawn, Glenwood, Lodge, and Tekoppel.

Lincoln and McGary offer breakfast and lunch from May 30 – June 23, and Lincoln will serve lunch only from June 26 – July 28.  Vogel will serve breakfast and lunch from May 22 – July 28.  Times vary by site.  Adult meals are available for purchase.  See this link for locations, dates, and times:  https://district.evscschools.com/acadprog/summer_lunch_programs

Warrick County School Corporation offers a summer meal program for children ages 18 and under.  Adult meals are available for purchase.  Dates and locations are as follows:

  • Loge Elementary School: July 16 – July 27 – Lunch Monday – Friday from 11:00 – 12:00.
  • Tennyson Elementary School: July 16 – July 27 – Lunch Monday – Friday from 11:00 – 12:00.
  • Chandler Elementary School: June 4 – July 27 – Lunch Monday – Friday from 11:00 – 12:30.  In addition to lunch, breakfast will be served between 8:00 – 9:00 am Monday – Friday during the following dates at Chandler Elementary School:  June 4 – June 29 and July 17 – July 27.

Boys and Girls Club of Evansville is open during the summer – Monday-Friday from 9:00 – 4:00 at two locations.  The One Main Unit on Bellemeade Avenue serves children ages 6 – 17, and the Fulton Square Unit serves children age 5 (must be enrolled in kindergarten) – 14.  Annual membership is $10 per child and a payment plan can be arranged if needed.  Activities include game rooms, tech lab, and arts and crafts.  See website for application and additional information or call 812-425-2311. http://bgclubevv.org/

YMCA of Southwestern Indiana offers free summer programming for school-aged children Monday – Friday throughout the summer at their Caldwell Community Center location.  See brochure for additional information or call 812-492-6716. http://www.ymcaswin.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/CommunityOutreach14Corrected-1.pdf

K Camp is a free 4-week kindergarten readiness program sponsored by the United Way and EVSC.  The program runs from June 4 – June 29 at two different locations – Lodge Community School from 9:00 am -12:30 pm and Caze Elementary School from 8:45 am – 12:00 pm.  To register, call 812-421-7274. http://unitedwayswi.org/k-camp/

Showplace Cinemas 2018 Family Film Festival – Eight weeks of family- friendly movies for $1 per person and concession specials at multiple Showplace Cinemas locations.  For exact dates and show times, see http://wkdq.com/showplace-cinemas-announces-2018-1-summer-movie-schedule/

Evansville Parks and Recreation City Pools offer weekly family nights at two different locations.  On family night, 2 adults and up to 4 kids can swim for $5.  Family night at Mosby Pool is on Wednesdays from 6-8 pm and at Rochelle-Landers Pool on Thursdays from 6-8 pm.

Have a great summer!