by Andy Pritikin

Why summer camp? 12 million children attend summer camps every summer, but the fact is that most parents in our area didn’t attend themselves, and when that’s the case, it’s hard to understand what all the fuss is about.

I often ask parents to remember their freshman year of college, when they went out on their own to a new place, meeting new people, trying new experiences, stepping out of their comfort zone. Think about how impactful that time was in your life, how close you still feel with some of the friends you made- That is very much what a high quality camp experience like Liberty Lake can be like.

Instead telling you heart-tugging personal stories about “the magic of camp,” here are five specific points that all parents should understand-

1. Camp is a safe environment for teaching children the skills of life. Colleges and employers agree that most of their new recruits lack the vital skills of communication, creativity, critical thinking and teamwork — “21st Century Skills” all practiced daily at great camps like Liberty Lake.

2. Camp can be a technology detox. Kids are addicted to screens, and we adults are the pushers. The average child stares at screens for 7.5 hours per day. At Liberty Lake, the average is ZERO, and the kids literally THANK us for it.

3. Camp teaches kids how to make and keep friendships. My daughter has 3,600 Instagram followers and 3,600 Facebook friends, most barely acquaintances. Only a handful of REAL friends though, and she’s not unique. Camp is a place where kids can make lifelong friendships, like college friends, while being coached through the ins and outs of navigating social relationships.

4. Summers should be about playing OUTSIDE. Our “Nature Deficit Disorder” children are indoors 99 percent of their lives. At Liberty Lake, they are 99 percent OUTSIDE, and love it. When it’s sunny, we wear hats. When it’s hot, we swim. When we get “liquid sunshine,” we sing, dance, and get muddy.

5. Camp is away from parents. Think about your favorite moments as a child. Were your parents there? Probably not. That’s because the moments that give kids the most confidence and self-awareness take place when put out of their comfort zone, away from parents, proving that they can accomplish things on their own.

Why summer camp? Because we all want our kids to grow up to become happy, successful, contributing members of society, and in today’s world, it’s more challenging than ever. Technology is wonderful, but cyber-bullying, googling answers to everything, and living through our smartphones is not. Camp is an easy antidote to modern society that all young people should have the opportunity to experience- just ask someone who has been to Liberty Lake or another great summer camp, and they will be happy to tell you why!

Andy Pritikin is the Owner/Director of Liberty Lake Day Camp in Bordentown NJ, and former President of the American Camp Association NY/NJ

Liberty Lake Day Camp, 1195 Florence-Columbus Road, Bordentown 08505. 609-499-7820 www.liberty­lake­day­

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