The Benefits of Summer Camp for Students with Learning Differences

written by: Erin Wynne, Assistant Head of School for Institutional Advancement

The Top 10 Reasons to Send Your Child with Learning Differences to Summer Camp

In Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Outliers, Gladwell makes the case with statistical evidence that the single greatest factor in a child’s academic achievement is not race, socioeconomic status, or even IQ scores…but rather the level to which students have a structured academic experience during the summer. Quite simply, students who have regular academic work over the summer—never mind attending a summer program like that offered at Eagle Hill School—achieve academically at a rate that far exceeds their peers. Give your child the opportunity to experience a summer program that balances academic work with a fun camp experience, and you will have truly optimized your child’s academic, physical, and social development, leading to profound and lasting positive effects. For students diagnosed with a learning disability, such as dyslexia or ADHD, this additional support can make a tremendous difference during the academic year and long term.
Here are ten reasons to consider why you should send your child to summer camp:
  1. Significant impact on academic achievement—Taking part in a summer camp with an intentional academic component reduces the risk of academic regression over the summer months. Eight weeks off is entirely too many for young learners, particularly those diagnosed with a learning disability—give your child the gift/opportunity to hit the ground running in September by retaining skills learned previously and developing new skills over the summer.  
  1. Spend time outdoors and be physically active—Summer camp provides a wonderful opportunity for kids to run, swim, hike, bike, and enjoy nature. #playoutside!
  1. Bolster coping skills—At camp kids learn to manage living in a dormitory among new peers and adults, they learn to advocate for themselves within an encouraging and supportive community, and they learn to take measured and manageable academic and social risks in the absence of their parents.
  1. Make friends for life—Without the social and academic pressures of the school year, camp allows children to relax and truly be themselves. The low-pressure camp atmosphere fosters deeper, more meaningful friendships among the campers. As many parents experience, some children diagnosed with ADHD and/or dyslexia suffer from low self-esteem, which impacts their ability to make and sustain friendships. A camp atmosphere, particularly one in which other campers face similar learning challenges, provides the perfect setting for these children to make much-needed social connections.
  1. Gain independence—Away from their parents, camp is the perfect place for kids to practice making good, informed decisions. Kids learn to manage their time and their choices. Of course, these newfound freedoms are all experienced within a safe, structured, and supportive environment.
  1. Strengthen a positive identity—With the benefit of a well-conceived summer orientation process, kids are assisted in sharing with the community their interests, their ideas, and their aspirations. Immediately kids gain a better sense of who they are as individuals, what they share in common with others, and how they can be meaningful contributors to the larger community. Kids who have been diagnosed with learning disabilities are able to focus on their skills, talents, and passions outside of the classroom. Quickly they are no longer defined by their ADHD or dyslexia, but rather by the things they excel at and enjoy most.
  1. Enjoy free time for fun—Away from the structured and scheduled routines of the academic year, summer camp provides time for unstructured play where kids can laugh, take part in activities they most enjoy, and just have fun with their peers. Kids need to be encouraged to just be kids.
  1. Gain leadership skills—Campers engage in activities that enhance their problem solving and communication skills, as well as learn how to be members of a “team.” Great camps nurture kids’ natural abilities and strengths while the adults and peers assist in developing areas in need of additional support.
  1. Strengthen peer relations skills—A camp atmosphere is often one where there is a small close-knit community. Kids learn to cooperate with, respect, and be kind to one another. Some kids may have a roommate or cabinmate for the first time, which effectively serves as a “camp within a camp.” These skills will have a lifelong impact for the student with dyslexia or ADHD who may struggle with peer relations secondarily to their learning disability. 
  1. Find success and gain confidence—Are you an athlete, a great musician, or an inventor? Camps and their inherent nurturing atmosphere allow kids to explore new passions and areas of yet unknown strength, which, in turn, bolsters their self-confidence and allows them to form a better sense of their own ability and identity. Camp teachers and counselors are committed to finding the very best in everyone.

What is Learning Diversity About?

Learning Diversity is a blog hosted by Eagle Hill School where educators, students, and other members of the LD community regularly contribute posts and critical essays about learning and living in spaces that privilege the inevitability of human diversity.

The contributors of Learning Diversity come together to engage our readers from a variety of disciplines, including the humanities, social sciences, biological sciences and mathematics, athletics, and residential life. Embracing learning diversity means understanding and respecting our students as whole persons.

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Eagle Hill School

Eagle Hill School is the premier college preparatory boarding and day school for students in grades 8-12 with diverse learning profiles, such as ADHD and Dyslexia.