Summer camp is often a place to send elementary-age kids so they aren't sitting around the house bored and so they'll make friends and learn new things while having fun. As kids grow out of their "little kid years," we sometimes forget that they still need those kinds of experiences they had when they were younger, just in a different form. Maybe you don't think your teen needs summer camp. Your teen should be babysitting, mowing lawns, working at the pool, hanging around with friends, right? Well, sure! But why not send them off for a week or more of summer fun and learning this year for a break? Here are some great benefits for teens attending summer camp:

  1. Learning how to give back. Community service camps offer a great chance for teens to make a difference and help out in the community, while also learning skills that will carry them through their lives. Kids get to spend their days helping others, which just feels good to everyone involved. Maybe your teen will learn how to pack food for the homeless, teach kids how to read or work on a project that will benefit the community, like cleaning up a playground or fixing equipment. They could even learn how to paint a house, care for a yard for an elderly person who is unable to do so anymore … or they may even learn how to plan and build a house for someone who is in need.

  2. Making new friends. It's important to continue to grow and change, and adding new friends to one's life enriches it at any age. Some teens attend the same camp or camps every summer and might find the same friends there year after year. Many are attending for the very first time and need to hone their social skills to make new friends and get to know other kids in their age range outside of a school setting. Being in close proximity for days or weeks helps kids get closer, faster.

  3. Learning new things. Whether your teen attends a camp to learn more about horses, adventure, a specific sport or anything else, they have an entire day, week or longer to focus on that one activity and really immerse themselves in it. Who knows? Your teen might find a new passion that he never thought of before that could be helpful in his educational or work life later on down the road.

  4. Deepening their faith. If your teen enjoys church youth groups and activities, a church or other organized religious camp might just be the ticket. The day might begin with a church service, followed by breakfast, then a hike and some time spent in the cabin with friends memorizing Bible verses for a competition at the end of the week. Later there could be singing songs around a bonfire while roasting s'mores.

  5. Developing a hobby. When your child is unplugged from the TV, video game player or smartphone, they can really focus on developing a hobby in a creative way. It seems like these days there's a camp for pretty much any interest your kid has. There are camps for horse and other animal lovers, sports lovers of all types (think developing soccer skills, swimming, football, volleyball, baseball -- anything!), Boy Scout camp (it covers so many different hobbies and topics), Girl Scout camp (it also covers so many great skills) … the list goes on!

  6. Working as a team. Your child will be meeting kids of different ages and from different backgrounds. Learning how to get along and work as a team is a huge life skill that will be reinforced at camp. Some camps even have kids do team-building and trust activities to help kids get to know each other.

  7. Staying active. Forget sitting around doing "screen time" all day long during the summer! When a teen attends summer camp, they often forget all about those things and focus on having fun with their friends while going on hikes, paddle boating, swimming and more, depending on the camp they choose! Bonus points for activity if they choose a camp targeted to a sport your kid is passionate about.

  8. Standing on their own. Let's face it: as our kids get older they start to grow away from us. They are simply preparing to head out on their own and they are also preparing you for that transition by perhaps being a little distant. They are stuck in between childhood and adulthood, and it's a confusing time. Going away to camp for even a short period of time helps teach independence. There is a daily structure at camp that's already in place which teens need to follow. Parents aren't the ones doing the nagging, so teens don't tune it out, while respecting other adults and learning from them.

  9. Appreciating everything. Away from screens (yes, I keep focusing on this one), it's easier to focus on nature, learning, forming relationships and more. Being away from parents, kids will come home with a new appreciation for what it takes to be in a family and help out in the running of the household. Your teen will probably also appreciate funny things like a full pantry that's open all day, their comfy bed and privacy!

Teen summer camp has so many benefits that cover all the bases, including physical, social, mental and spiritual. As for the rest of the summer? Well, your teen can spend plenty of time doing those odd jobs to help pay for camp next year!

Kerrie McLoughlin is the seasoned homeschooling mom of five. Three of the kids have done overnight camp and loved it! Find them at