How Long Should Children Go to Camp?

Amanda Fox10 Jan, 2018

When we reopened Camp Pinnacle in 2012, we had the opportunity to create a new vision for what summer camp could be. When we went to camp as kids many years ago, many of us were lucky to attend an eight-week session. Nowadays, families don’t have the luxury, disposable income, or time to commit to an entire summer at camp anymore.

However, shortening camp sessions didn’t have to mean that the power or effectiveness of a great summer experience had to be lost. It merely put the responsibility on us to redesign the program so campers could still benefit from and have the adventure of a much longer session in just two weeks. By making the most of every minute, continually improving our facility, hiring committed role models, and keeping a firm vision of our learning objectives, we have been pleased with how powerful our immersive two-week sessions have been. We are also convinced that two weeks is the absolute minimum amount of time needed for the camp experience to stick.

That being said, we don’t want the efficacy of our two-week session to outshine its big sister, the three-week session! We created a three-week session because the feedback we receive most often from campers is that two weeks at Camp Pinnacle is simply too short! There are so many activities and skills to learn and so many wonderful people to meet that just as camp starts to feel like a second home, it’s time to leave! The impact of our longer session grows exponentially in that third week of camp. Campers get to experience significantly more, including evening programs and activities that we just don’t have time for in the two-week session, and the personal growth is even more staggering.

Let’s take a look at the greater benefits of a three-week session:

Campers have more time to bond with and grow closer to their fellow campers.

Typically, campers grow to be such good friends that they keep up with each other throughout the year! An added bonus is that Camp Pinnacle kids get to broaden their view of the world, as our campers come from all over the United States and even the world.

Campers are able to make a significant gain in outdoor and camp skills.

Three-week campers are provided more opportunities to explore the Blue Ridge Mountains, whether it’s mountain biking in DuPont State Forest, canoeing down the French Broad River, or hiking in Pisgah National Forest. They also spend more time honing specific camp activity skills, such as archery, paddleboarding, riflery, or arts and crafts. And increased skill leads to…

Increased self-confidence!

When campers are given the time and encouragement to set goals and fulfill them as a result of their hard work, their newfound competence leads to more confidence. This helps create a pattern of pushing oneself, taking reasonable risks, and building habits that engender success. And confidence is just one of many non-cognitive skills (our Great 8 Outcomes) that are better attained through deeper immersion in a longer camp session.

Campers spend even more time away from electronics.

What parent these days doesn’t want their kid to take a break from screen time? Especially when time spent with digital devices indoors is replaced with an experience in nature and face-to-face relationships with friends. With an extra week at camp, children can relax and take a much-needed long break from the pressures of digital media, focusing their attention instead on fun, friendships, and personal growth. The extra time away solidifies the life lesson that they can be in control of the role electronics has in their lives.

Campers spend more time with outstanding role models who can make a positive impression that lasts a lifetime.

Our counselors love the three-week session because they feel they get to know their campers better and have even more of an impact. We spend much of our time in the winter and spring making sure that the staff we hire are not only people for children to look up to, but also extremely caring, competent, friendly, and fun. Children learn from and listen to role models differently than they do their parents, and after three weeks, they’ve created a long-term, heartfelt bond with their counselors and internalized life lessons that reinforce your strong parenting.

So, which session is right for your child? It differs from family to family! It may be helpful to read more about the difference in our two- and three-week sessions here.

We are always happy to chat about your options and find the best fit for your family. Call us anytime at 855-378-1928.


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