Director Jud's Blog

Benefits of Free Play at an Overnight Teen Summer Camp

Posted by Jud Millar on Mon, Mar 22, 2021

SMA staff pose for a picture


As the owner and director of an overnight teen summer camp, I'm often asked "what does a daily schedule look like"? This is easy to explain because, yes, Stone Mountain Adventures does have a daily schedule, but it's also flexible to allow kids to grow through free play. 


New Call-to-actionWith approximately 60 campers and 14 staff, it's important to have routine. Staff need to know their responsibilities and campers need to know parameters. We wake up about the same time each day, eat our meals at around the same time, and structure morning, afternoon, and evening activities to keep everyone engaged and having fun. But, what about those snippets of time before and after? Getting 75 people off on six different activities can be like herding cats! Joey is still brushing his teeth, Maria and Kya are furiously engaged in a tie game of foosball, and 10 other kids are running around at the basketball hoop playing knock out. 




Sometimes the beauty of camp is that campers are engaged in "free play." They're done with a meal and they just start playing. One camper might be sitting on a bench engrossed in a required summer reading for school. A few campers might be silently making friendship bracelets that are anchored to their water bottles. A gaggle of kids and counselors have started an impromptu game of ultimate frisbee on the lawn with spare flip flops as goal posts. A couple of campers or staff might be casually observing while engaged in a conversation. All of these examples of free play are beneficial because the kids are in charge. They're navigating social interaction. Whether they're physically engaged or casually observing, they're developing independence and self-reliance. 

 A group of Campers pose for a picture


Taking risks in a safe and secure environment can be a significant benefit at an overnight teen summer camp. Whether it's singing in front of the entire camp in an evening talent show or repelling off of a natural rock face for the first time, campers will transfer the security they feel during free play to structured play without even realizing it. Stone Mountain Adventures Teen Overnight Camp strives to create opportunities for all campers within their comfort zone through structure AND free time. 


A group of Campers pose for a picture


About Director Jud's Blog

This blog will give you the "411" about everything that is Stone Mountain Adventures Teen Summer Camp!  Everything from "Summer Updates" to useful family and camp resources.  Check it out! 

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