18 Feb 3 Mental Health Benefits Campers Experience During a Summer at Susquehannock

3 Mental Health Benefits Campers Experience During a Summer at Susquehannock

“Exercise is an actionable, daily habit that helps shift the perception of ‘I can’t’ to ‘I can’.”
-Dr. Justin Ross, PsyD.

For many children, their first few days at summer camp can include homesickness, anxiety over what to expect and more recently, depression caused from the pressures of social media and the side effects of the pandemic.

However, it amazes me how most children gradually begin to release these feelings, smile, and eventually head home as confident, happy young people.

Many parents will call or send me emails thanking us for the positive change they see in their children. Their comments include, “what did you do to my child? He or she is confident and willing to try new things, clean up after a meal and even make the bed.”

I recently read an interview with Dr. Justin Ross, PsyD. He is a licensed clinical psychologist specializing in athlete mental health and performance. He addresses issues such as anxiety, depression, eating disorders, insomnia, and stress. He works with athletes of all ages and abilities, including the NBA and NFL players associations.

As I read the interview, it became clearly apparent the techniques and advice Dr. Ross is promoting are being incorporated at camp. Here are the three items I want to share:

1. “A Deep Belief that We Will Be Ok Should We Fall Short of Our Goals.”

At Susquehannock we run a structured and pre-planned program. A program that exposes children to a multitude of sports and activities with the goal of developing confidence in the fact that all will be ok if they make a mistake or fall a bit short.

Let’s face it: we all stumble and make mistakes in life. If your child can learn at an early age that it is not about the mistake or stumble but how you react and bounce back from the mistake, they will undoubtedly become a more confident and resilient individual.

2. “Exercise is Not Only a Treatment Strategy but Also a Preventative Mechanism for Depression.”

The structured program at Susquehannock provides planned, consistent exercise through a variety of sports and activities that allows for both physical growth and the growth of mental happiness. Based on the research of Dr. Ross, it is not surprising that children return home from camp happier and more confident than when they arrived.

Dr. Ross goes on to say, “there are certainly psychological variables that occur with regular exercise, which include shifting perception, increasing a sense of empowerment, willingness to endure discomfort, improved self-esteem and self-worth, and commitment to goals. If depression is the paucity of hope, then exercise is an actionable, daily habit that helps shift the perception of ‘I can’t’ to ‘I can’.”

3. “Give Yourself Permission to Feel Anxious. That Experience is 100% Normal and Shows that You Care About Your Performance.”

At Susquehannock, campers are provided an environment where anxiety can be managed because regardless of a child’s skillset, experience or athleticism they have a place. A place where they can stumble and fail without the risk of embarrassment.

This teaches them anxiety is ok …it’s normal. And when children begin to realize this, life begins to open. The children begin the first step to understanding they have power over these feeling and can let them go. They start to recognize “they have tremendous power over regulating experiences in mind and body, but that regulation needs to include not trying to get rid of or push anxiety away (that almost never works).”


I hope you enjoyed this bit of information. Developing a confident and positive outlook on life begins at an early age. It opens the world and all its incredible opportunities. It provides happiness with oneself and ultimately the environment we live.

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