Help your kids make the most of their summer vacation

By: Craig and Marc Kielburger

Author: Canadian Living


Help your kids make the most of their summer vacation

By: Craig and Marc Kielburger
Craig always enjoyed school, but, like any kid, the last few weeks before summer holidays became a countdown. Instead of focusing on multiplication tables and last-minute assignments, he was mentally preparing for his annual camping trip.

Craig was eager to put his camping skills to the test. Sometimes the trips were with his Scouts troop, other times, they were with our dad. Either way, Craig couldn't have been more excited to spend his days canoeing and his nights sitting around a campfire.

It really wasn't a dislike of school that made Craig so anxious to jump from his seat. Just the opposite. It was a summer full of new learning opportunities that he looks forward to. These were lessons that couldn't be taught in the classroom.

Instead, they were life skills that created a balance with academics. They even helped build Craig's self esteem and create bonds with fellow scouts that endure to this day.

Not long ago, Craig and I attended a conference that discussed the merits of a year-round school system. There were a lot of academic arguments showing what students would gain, but we couldn't help but wonder what they would lose.

Not all learning comes from a textbook. The summer is the perfect time to teach the skills that are best learned in the great oudoors. After all, the sun is shining, you're not stuck behind the  desk and daytime television is pretty boring. By getting kids involved in leadership or sports camps, camping trips or other summer activities, they develop a teamwork skills and camaraderie. They also reach an important milestone by spending time away from home and develop a sense of independence.

This is exactly what Craig learned through his camping trips. Together with his fellow Scouts, he learned to traverse the wilderness as a member of a team. Each day as the group canoed farther, set up a new another campsite and built another campfire, their confidence in their abilities grew and they went to sleep excited to start the next day.

All the while they learned valuable lessons that no doubt came in handy when school started back up in September. Geography was no longer just boring stuff to memorize in a textbook. Instead, it was something he saw, touched and felt as he traversed it a scout. That experience allowed Craig to pick up the real-world applications of what he was learning in class.

Sure, summer is a break from school, but that doesn't mean the learning has to stop. Just as you can find out new things in a textbook, there's a lot you can discover outside the classroom as well.

Tips for parents
1. Find your kid's passion
. There's lots of selection when it comes to summer camps, so try looking for one that sparks you kid's interest and helps develop his skills.

2. Check out your community. Most cities have summer festivals representing the different cultures that make up the community. Use these events as an opportunity to help your kids learn about the world.

3. Make a difference in the world. There are hundreds of lesson to be learned and skills be to developed through volunteer work, both at home and overseas. Help your kid make a difference this summer by helping them use their time away from class to volunteer for an issue they care about.

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Help your kids make the most of their summer vacation