This article in Outside Online Magazine caught my attention with its headline "The Importance of Free Play for Kids". While much of our summer camp's daily schedule is structured, for decades we have known how important it is for growing minds to have truly unstructured play time each day. It's great to see how many doctors, educators, psychologists and social scientists are recognizing this now, too!
For as long as anyone can remember, our summer camp in New Hampshire has offered our campers 1 hour of unstructured fun and play time after dinner. We call it Free Play. We believe that giving children the opportunity to explore and interact with each other during unstructured time is vital for proper social and emotional development.
In yesterday’s blog I wrote about what is, for most of our campers, the most popular time of each camp day: Free Play. As the name implies, it’s a daily block of time when campers are able to choose just about anything we offer in our program, from team and individual sports to visual and performing arts to hanging out with friends and counselors. It’s an amazing time in each Camp day for having fun, pursuing your passions, and learning to how use free time.
I’ve written before in this blog about how popular and important Free Play time is in our camp community. Every night of the summer, directly after dinner, campers have over an hour to do something rare in modern childhood: whatever they want. Some campers use this time to practice a sport, while others work on completing an art project. Many others use the time to sit with friends on one of our beautiful grassy areas to talk, giggle, play a card game, roll down a hill, and enjoy each other’s company. Each night you can hear campers using their Free Play time to jam in the music building, play some gaga ball, kick a soccer ball around, cut and drill lumber in the wood shop, or just hang out with friends and counselors.