Undoubtedly, the pandemic has altered our lives like no other event in recent history. Its impact on the health and well being of people near and far is well documented. The strain on our economy and the pressures it has placed on communities and families cannot be underestimated. Yet for many, the mental health of our children often gets overshadowed in the midst of everything else. Right now, the mental health of our kids is of paramount importance, and one we at Kidventure refuse to ignore and one we plan to help cure in our 26th season of camp.
Prior to this pandemic, our youth were experiencing the highest rates of anxiety and clinical depression ever. According to the National Institutes of Health, anxiety disorders in adolescents increased 20 percent from 2007 to 2012. Today, 1 in 3 teens will experience an anxiety disorder. The percentage of teens who experienced at least one major depressive episode increased rapidly at about this same time. Today, 1 out of about every 5 girls reports experiencing symptoms. Startlingly, the suicide rate for young people ages 15 to 19 increased by 76 percent from 2007 to 2017 and nearly tripled for adolescents ages 10 to 14.
These numbers, in and of themselves, are appalling but throw a global pandemic on top of an already compromised generation of youth and the impact can be devastating. For so many kids, the pandemic has served to further isolate them from friends and peers. For some, school has provided a limited reconnection to peers and friends. However, school doesn’t provide for the substantive social connections and bonds like camp has done for millions of kids. Peter Scales, Ph.D., and noted author/educator, and Senior Fellow, The Search Institute wrote, “The biggest plus of camp is that camps help young people discover and explore their talents, interests, and values. Most schools don’t satisfy all these needs. Kids who have had these kinds of (camp) experiences end up being healthier and have fewer problems that concern us all.”
The concept of camp is born in a belief that kids flourish and grow best when they are in an environment that values everyone for who they are. Camp harnesses the very nature of childhood with its quest for exploration and its propensity for creativity. Camp provides a culture where positive relationships are what matters most, ones that are based on strong values and care for one another. In an environment like camp, kids develop greater confidence, strong relational bonds, and attain a sense of belonging that is so challenging to find right now. The founder of Active Parenting and family therapist, Michael Popkin, PH,D., puts it like this, “The building blocks of self-esteem are belonging, learning, and contributing. Camps offer unique opportunities for children to succeed in these three vital areas and even beyond home and school.”
For 26 years Kidventure has been focused on bringing kids together with the specific and intentional mission to help raise happy and healthy kids in the unique environment of camp. That need has never been greater than now. While there is good reason for hope and promise because there is a vaccine for the virus, there is no vaccine for loneliness, isolation, and for anxiety. Camp is part of that necessary cure for our children.
At Kidventure, we have five clear and distinct priorities for this 2021 camp season. They are as follows:
- Provide kids with an environment that is safe, kind, and loving. This is our foundation.
- Give kids the opportunities to be a child, to explore their world, try new things, and gain confidence in the process and in doing so, tamp down the fear.
- To provide an example through their camp counselors and directors of how to come together in unity, with respect for one another, and celebrate the best of what makes us human beings.
- To provide a place where kids can contribute to something great. Kids want to help, to give, and to make the world a better place.
- To provide our campers’ parents with support, with confidence that their children are being cared for, that they are safe, and that their mental and physical well-being is of paramount focus.
Kidventure and our 2021 teams are right now, planning, preparing, and training for these priorities. We’ve been a part of the Houston landscape and the lives of thousands of families in this town. However, in our 26 history, our purpose and the need for what we so love to do has never been greater.
Right now our kids need to get reconnected and made to feel a part of something unique, and with purpose. Our kids need to be validated, not by the number of likes on their social, but with a smile and a hug from a real friend that genuinely cares. Right now our kids are drowning in loneliness and fear amidst a world of uncertainty, hatred, and separation, and right now we must look to come together as parents, camp, and community to act in their best interest.
Kidventure has been part of this very important community since 1994 and we invite you to be a part of Kidventure’s Summer Camp 2021. Official registration for Kidventure 2021 Summer Camp will begin on February 8th at 9 AM. At that time you may register for any of our programs including Discoverers (ages 3-5), Explorers (entering 1st grade-5th grade), Leads (entering 6th grade-9th grade), as well as our Overnight Camps in the Texas Hill Country. Camp will begin June 1 and there are locations throughout the greater Houston area to choose from offering as many as ten weeks of camp. We will also be hosting a special ‘Virtual Camp Show’ on January 29th. Log on and join our camp team as we talk all about the upcoming summer season and answer all your questions about this very important year.
Simply visit kidventure.com for all your camp information and to register or call us at 512.263.8992.