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10 Reasons Teens Should go to Summer Camp

Updated: Apr 2

A list of just a few reasons you should join YES Camp this Summer!

1. Participate in a Positive Peer Environment

Some teens are lucky enough to belong to excellent schools, clubs, and extracurriculars that reinforce their need for belonging, friendship and growth, but for many teens these experiences are lacking. Too often our school environments are negative spaces

where youth feel excluded, anxious or unable to be themselves. Camp offers teens a positive environment where they are celebrated for who they are, can feel confident to take risks, try new activities and make new friends. At The YES we often see youth relax throughout the week as they come to understand that they have no reason to be fearful of just being themselves. 

2. Develop Relevant Life Skills

Being in a new environment challenges teens to learn new skills. At camp youth are asked to engage in team building and problem solving, to develop their social skills and communication, and to practice self-awareness and self-regulation among many other skills. For some teens starting up a conversation with someone new might be a huge stretch; at camp, we meet teens where they’re at to provide support, guidance and education to help everyone grow. 

3. Take a Break From Screens

A recent Gallop poll estimated that the average North American teen spends 9 hours on screens each day. At camp we spend zero hours on screens. Camp is an excellent opportunity to take a break from social media, and the constant need to be checking your phone. In our 2023 survey, 93% of YES Camp participants reported that they enjoyed the break from technology. At The YES the most advanced technology we use is our incredible sound system, and the projector we use for Karaoke. We see the benefits of screen-free time as youth decompress and find fulfilment in connecting face to face through meaningful interactions. 

4. Develop Grit, Resiliency and Independence

For teens it is so important to build independence, autonomy and agency. Time away from home gives teens a chance to have new experiences, be empowered to make their own choices and stretch and grow outside of their comfort zones. Along with this comes a greater sense of self-worth, confidence, resiliency and grit. Whether it’s their first time away from home for an extended period, or they’re used to being on their own, Camp is a great place for youth to develop a strong sense of independence. 

5. Enjoy the Benefits of Free Play

Sometimes, as children make the transition into adolescence, they engage in less play time. Free play can be understood as unstructured or loosely structured activities that allow teens to use their imaginations and creativity without limits. Whether it’s participating in improv games, building a fort, or dressing up using our Tickle Trunk, free play encourages youth to build new skills, participate in teamwork, and make new connections. Play is also linked with a reduction of stress and anxiety as youth are encouraged to be in the moment, and let go of any attachment to “getting it right”.

6. Learn Social Skills and Team Building

For some youth, starting a conversation with someone new can come with a lot of anxiety - for others, the nuances of being a good team member are not obvious. At The YES we meet youth where they’re at to develop social skills that will serve them in their lives. Everyone needs social skills, and for many it will be a major determinant of success. We start each day with one on one conversations designed to get youth comfortable with introducing themselves, asking questions and listening to their partner. Through our communication sessions, we learn skills related to body language, roles in groups, and communicating through conflict.

7. Make Meaningful Friendships

Friendships are such an important part of building a fulfilling life. We hear from a lot of teens both about how important friends are, and also that many of them are dissatisfied with the friends they have. For many youth, the friends they make at camp are higher quality friends than those they have at home. That means that camp raises the bar for the quality of relationships teens can expect in their lives. They come to look for more authenticity, respect, values alignment, honesty, care and connection. At the YES we have countless example of lifelong friendships forged in just a few days. Teens leave with skills like conflict resolution, empathy and self-awareness that serve them well in developing healthy and meaningful friendships and relationships in their lives. 

8. Practice Inclusion and Celebrate Diversity

At Camp we welcome youth from 90 different BC communities, and every type of family background, culture, identity, religion and socio-economic class you can imagine. We love how diverse our camp is, and we love seeing connections form between youth with very different backgrounds. Camp is there to celebrate each person for being exactly who they are, and learning from the myriad of perspectives and experiences that campers and staff members bring to the program. Part of this is building a strong community of respect, curiosity, authenticity and empathy. Everyone at our program is expected to approach everyone else with an open mind and an appreciation for their unique gifts. 

9. Connect with Nature

Camp takes place on 40 acres of wilderness on Vancouver Island. We’re right on Cowichan Lake, and swim in the beautiful clean water each day. We offer canoeing and paddle boarding, as well as many games and activities in the forest and on the fields. We see wildlife each day including rabbits, deer, and the occasional black bear. For many youth, connecting with nature at Lake Cowichan is a much needed break from the urban environments they come from. Making a friendship bracelet in the grass, stargazing, or playing guitar under a tree leaves a feeling of connection, presence and ease, and a memory they will look back on throughout their lives. These moments allow teens to decompress, be mindful, and put their stress and anxiety on hold as they build a connection to the natural environment. 

We would be remiss if we did not mention fun. Nothing is more satisfying than laughing uncontrollably, breaking loose on the dance floor, or making a cherished new friend. The YES is all about having a wholesome good time with everyone. Fun is a priority, whether it be in the form of sports and games, team challenges, bumpin’ dance parties, or improv comedy. Sometimes life is stressful and overwhelming and you just need to have a good time.

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