by Jennifer Fontaine
As days get longer and the anticipation of summer crescendos, kids everywhere look forward to breaking out of four-walled learning centers and into wide open spaces. The task given us as parents is how to shape their time off into meaningful experiences that may also offer captivating learning opportunities.
For many of us, the tradition of summer camp has its DNA tightly woven into the fabric of our childhood memories. Meeting a new best friend, learning how to build the perfect campfire, helping a stranger cross an obstacle course and discovering your independence are but a few reasons why, year after year, kids climb on the bus and wave goodbye to their parents for several days or even weeks of chaperoned fun.
Children’s camps across the world aim to bolster confidence and form leadership skills through foundational activities underscoring the need for cooperation and achievement. In doing so, these organizations become more than just part of summer vacation, they become a developmental experience through which youth can gain lifelong benefits.
Current research by the American Camp Association shows that kids who are given a choice and a voice are more likely to take an active role in age-appropriate decision-making for themselves and for their peers. The exercising of this ability to participate in a responsible application of those choices leads to a lessening of a kid’s propensity to make risky or negative decisions in adolescents.
When kids are given the opportunity to leave the secure surroundings of their parents and enter into a nurturing group of new adults and peers where influence over individual choices is limited, self-esteem flourishes.* Additionally, the right camp experience can be the perfect antidote to a summer full of sitting around and doing absolutely nothing.
It’s no secret that youth participation in sport is declining, alongside dwindling school physical education budgets and a rise in electronic screen time. Programs that are rooted in the outdoors and include a plethora of physical activities can work to promote a healthy lifestyle and vibrant future for our kids.
David Secunda, national advocate for outdoor recreation has made it his life’s work to introduce kids to the power of the outdoors. With the launch of Secunda’s youth program, Avid 4 Adventure , he has created an authentic outdoor experience that teaches kids the skills and confidence to launch them into a lifetime of empowerment.
Secunda’s goal is as simple as it is profound, “To engage kids in active outdoor pursuits in a safety-oriented, environmentally responsible manner. To this end, Avid4 Adventure provides age-appropriate outdoor activities that encourage learning, develop self-esteem and build friendships. Secunda also makes sure to mention the benefit of Avid’s program to parents, offering early drop-off and locally-based excursions ensures they won’t feel like summer chauffeurs.
Avid’s heartbeat centers around eight core values.
Injected with the belief that the outdoors creates joy, Avid supports kids, their families and their peers to adventure exuberantly out in the world.
Live Environmentally Connected
To create environmental stewards of our Mother Earth, Avid walks the walk and talks the talk by minimizing their programs’ environmental impact. They also impart environmental awareness by teaching the Leave No Trace principles.
Listening is crucial to meaningful conversations. Avid is dedicated to recognizing one’s own uniqueness and acknowledging successes with gratitude.
Training and development are top on Avid’s list, not only for the kids but for the advancement of technical expertise with their staff, tracking and advancing the skills of everyone involved.
Live Beyond Expectation
By elevating adventure education and maintaining a distinguished safety record, Avid consistently surpasses expectations.
With an empathetic approach, Avid staff encourages kids to take positive risks, by leading them to opportunities that will in turn build confidence.
Bridging the gap between a hunger for work and a thirst for the outdoors is met with its own reward of community, family and self when you are able to find fulfillment in all aspects of life.
One shared experience of connection to those who occupy the space surrounding us near and far leads to inspiring growth of a people and of the world.
The Avid 4 Adventure Location Lowdown
Avid offers several day and overnight camps in various locales, including Colorado and California, with remote and pristine facilities remarkably near major metropolitan areas like Denver, Boulder, and Oakland, respectively. All expeditions and activities are tailored for varying age and experience levels, from 2nd grade through high school.
Paying it Forward
Convenient and affordable for all urban dwellers, in 2015 Avid 4 Adventure sponsored 108 kids through a vibrant scholarship program that translated to nearly $40,000 of camp funding made possible. Find out more about scholarship opportunities here.
*Chenery, M.F. (1991). I am somebody: The messages and methods of organized camping for youth development. Martinsville, IN: American Camping Association.
NOTE: It is the policy of Outdoor Families Magazine to disclose a financial partnership with a business or organization. Avid 4 Adventure provided financial sponsorship to Outdoor Families Magazine in exchange for content.
Jennifer Fontaine is founder of Outdoor Families Magazine and publisher of MommyHiker.com, a website dedicated to outdoor opportunities and adventures with small children. She lives in Los Angeles.