Camp Fire Alaska | Summer Camp - How It Benefits Youth

For past attendees, summer camp is a repository of happy childhood memories. It is a time where children come together and bond with each other and nature, making new connections and deepening current bonds. It turns out that summer camp is more than just a good time – it positively affects children in several ways. Join us as we explore some ways that summer camp positively affects youth.


Summer camp offers a safe and supportive environment for kids to try new things and build their self-esteem. It provides a reassuring space for them to explore their interests and abilities. As they are faced with structured challenges, they learn to believe in themselves. They also get the chance to discover talents and strengths unique to them, helping to reinforce their sense of self-worth and identity. Positive self-esteem, essential for creating positive relationships, personal growth, and vital to creating and keeping healthy boundaries with peers, is a trait that will help them throughout their lives.


According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, kids ages 8-18 now spend, on average, a whopping 7.5 hours in front of a screen for entertainment each day, 4.5 of which are spent watching TV. Over a year, that adds up to 114 full days watching a screen for fun. That is just the time they spend in front of a screen for entertainment. It does not include the time they spend on the computer at school for educational purposes or at home for homework. As a result, children are becoming disconnected with peers, opting to socialize through cyberspace. Phones have become the driving force behind most – or every – interaction. Not only has digital-only socialization been proven to damage social skills, but it also isolates children from their peers.

The good news: During summer camp, kids put aside their phones and instead socialize in-person in a structured setting with various hands-on activities. Not only a much-needed break from their screen, but also a chance to build lasting, interpersonal connections with kids outside of their communities. At camp, children find common ground in nature and focus on fun in real life, instead of behind a screen.


Physical activity is vital for a child’s development. It promotes good physical and mental health and is linked to other benefits. The CDC reports, regular physical activity can help children and adolescents improve cardiorespiratory fitness, build strong bones and muscles, control weight, reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, and reduce the risk of developing health conditions such as heart disease.

Despite the known benefits of exercise, kids are now more likely to spend time indoors, trading outdoor playtime for indoor screentime. With society’s adoption of the digital lifestyle, playing video games, watching movies, or scrolling through social media have become common place. Physical inactivity from these sedentary behaviors — which can persist into adulthood – are linked to many health problems such as obesity, high blood pressure, and insulin resistance that can develop into type 2 diabetes.

There is good news, though! Summer camp breaks that paradigm by giving kids a much-needed break from screens, bolstering an appreciation for the outdoors, and giving them fun ways to exercise. In our camp programs, kids get to engage in a range of physical activities, such as target sports, kayaking, and hiking. A love for these activities could mean kids are more likely to do them outside of camp, taking the adventure home with them – and, hopefully, into adulthood, too.


“Nature is good for you” — at some point, we have all heard it. Many people accept it as a fact, and there is scientific evidence proving that it is true, as cited in this UC Davis Health research article. But what benefits does it have on children? And how does summer camp promote a deeper connection with nature?

Nature has a profound impact on cognitive function, mental health, and helps promote healthy exercise. In this study by the National Library of Medicine, it is reported that the outdoors (“greenspace”) evokes a sense of calm, as it lowers cortisol levels – the hormone responsible for stress. Spending time outdoors has also been proven to improve mental acuity, attention span, and creativity. It also increases situational awareness by activating more senses, providing much needed stimulation for a developing child.

At summer camp, children get to take part in a fully immersive outdoor experience. The sights, smells, and feeling of being outside activates their minds in ways that movies, video games, and screens cannot. Unlike life in the city, from the moment they wake up to the moment they go to bed, they are surrounded by nature. According to Attention Restoration Theory, the outdoors promotes a type of attention called “soft fascination,” a natural state of focus that is not present in an urban environment. In nature, children do not need to focus on ignoring distractions, which causes mental fatigue; rather, their minds get to take in the environment – the lush greenery and natural bodies of water, the swaying of the trees, the scent of damp earth. At camp, surrounded by adults, they can connect to nature safely, allowing the experience itself to be their sole concern. If you would like to learn more about the importance of spending time outdoors as a young person, click here!



In camp, kids are challenged in a structured environment. They get to partake in activities such as field games, arts and crafts, cooking, science, and outdoor education – and take part in field trips, like visiting the Alaska Wildlife Center, going on a tent camping trip, or biking along the coastal trail. With activities like these, they may first approach with hesitation and even aversion. But through experience, they learn to persevere, fortifying their resolve to succeed. Although they may fail, they are taught how to continue with determination and effort. This makes achieving their goals a more rewarding experience – and it illustrates that the journey is as important as the destination.


Away from the comfort and familiarity of their parents, kids are given the perfect opportunity for development and growth. They get to make their own decisions and are taught to take responsibility for their actions. This sense of autonomy helps create independence and self-reliance – skills valuable throughout their lives and the building blocks of a strong leader.


Attending summer camp can be a life-changing experience. It offers many benefits, like improving self-esteem, building social skills, exercise, teaching resiliency, developing leadership skills, and so much more! Summer camp provides a safe, fun learning environment for kids while creating memories that will last a lifetime. We encourage parents to sign their kids up for one of our 2024 Summer Camp programs where they can embark on their own journey of self-discovery and growth!

Check out this video to see what summer camp looks like with Camp Fire at our overnight camp, Camp K.