July 15, 2016: The Importance of Downtime
Green Acres Camp is a very busy place, and at any given moment, visitors can find campers participating in a wide variety of activities. These activities stimulate creativity, provide new experiences, help to develop a skill, and are just plain fun! These activities are also one of the reasons many parents send their children to Green Acres.
One activity that is included in a camper’s day is downtime. Although the majority of our campers have graduated from a regimented nap time, it is important that we create space for campers to rest and rejuvenate. We take this quiet time seriously, as brain research suggests that everyone, including adults, needs an opportunity to turn off and let his/her mind wander.
“Creating regular and frequent time for the children to settle down and unwind is essential to keep them in balance. Quiet activities such as drawing, reading, and crafts can allow the child to ramp back energy levels and focus on something that is relaxing”. -L.J. Earnest
According to Dorothy Sluss, Associate Professor of Elementary Education and Early Childhood at James Madison University, “Children, young children especially, do need time to play and explore and they need time to just do nothing”.
Campers in Junior Camp experience downtime in age-appropriate ways. Children in Kreative Kangaroos and Unit A rest quietly on mats. They are allowed to talk quietly, listen to stories, and read books, but some of them actually do sleep. Unit B and C campers play quiet games. They may draw, complete a craft, read, or simply relax. Once quiet time is over, campers are rejuvenated and ready to begin the next activity.
I have worked at Green Acres Camp since 1999. Each year, we review parent surveys and make changes to improve our program. This year, we slowed things down by adding time to our specialist classes and providing a longer activity period at the end of the day. In addition, we have maintained our quiet time. The result has been a calmer, more relaxed atmosphere where children have been able to focus on the activity in which they are participating. It is a new and different schedule than that of years past, but both staff and campers have benefitted. We continue to strive to make Green Acres Camp the place to be!
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