Five Benefits of Summer Camp For Foster Children

Five Benefits Of Summer Camp For Foster Children
Foster children enjoy doing all the things that regular children do at summer camp.

The harsh reality for foster children is that their childhood isn’t normal. Being removed from your home because of abuse or neglect and being placed somewhere with someone you don’t know is simply something most children don’t have to deal with. It sets them apart in a way that’s difficult to comprehend.

However, foster parents work hard to build a bridge back to normalcy. One way they attempt to do this is by providing the child in their care with the opportunity for a common childhood experience.

One such opportunity is summer camp, something we feel strongly about at Foster and Adoptive Family Services (FAFS), an organization offering camp scholarships to children in foster care in New Jersey. FAFS gives children an opportunity to stay at an overnight camp for a week where they can have the time of their lives.

Foster Children And Summer Camp

Here are five important benefits of summer camp for foster children:

1) Summer camp is a chance for siblings to reunite.

While there has been a push by foster care agencies across the country to place siblings in the same foster home, the truth is that this isn’t always possible. Sometimes brothers and sisters are separated from one another. For a foster child, who is already dealing with unimaginable loss, the separation from a sibling who can relate and empathize during this traumatic period is devastating.  Summer camp is an opportunity for siblings in separate foster homes to connect and bond. It’s a chance for brothers and sisters to create new, positive memories that they can carry with them through the tough days. More importantly, it’s a reminder that they are not alone.

Siblings reunite
Siblings reunite

2) Summer camp will help improve social skills.

Camp is a chance for foster children to interact with kids from all different kinds of backgrounds and cultures. Sharing cabins with strangers their own age is an occasion for foster children to develop friendships and create their own social circle that isn’t dependent on where they live or where they go to school. For foster children who may be suffering from low self-esteem due to the tragic circumstances of their removal, this is an opportunity for a boost in confidence.

A chance to work on social skills.

3) Summer camp is a break from the routine

Sometimes escaping an environment, even temporarily, can be a much-needed breath of fresh air. Anyone who has ever taken a vacation after a difficult period in his or her life can attest to the restorative power of the break. For foster children, an escape from the routine of day-to-day life can be invigorating.  Given that many children spend their days behind screens and gadgets, being outdoors at camp is a refreshing change of pace. Who knows, camp could even inspire a love of nature that would otherwise go undiscovered.

Summer camp offers kids a change of pace.

4) Summer camp is a healthy outlet for pent up energy

As anyone who has ever interacted with a child will tell you, kids have a lot of energy. Foster children are no different.  What can tire out an adult out in an hour is merely a prologue to a child. The key is putting that energy to positive use. Nowhere is that easier to do than at camp. Whether it’s a kickball game, a long hike or rock climbing, foster children will have an opportunity to release their inexhaustible energy doing something fun.

Cute boy pulling rope. Shallow DOF. Developed from RAW; retouched with special care and attention; Adobe RGB color profile.
Tug of war at camp is a great way to release pent up energy.

5) Summer camp is chance at normalcy

For foster children, normal is not easy to come by.  That’s why summer camp, an activity that millions of kids participate in annually across the country, is special. The crackling fire, the s’mores that leave faces covered in chocolate, and the friendships forged over tug of war are all rights of passage on the path to adulthood. For foster children who may often feel separated or alienated due to their circumstance, camp is an excellent opportunity to feel included in a positive experience. This shared memory of new friends and fireside tales can go a long way.

Being together with kids their own age at camp gives foster kids that hard-won feeling of normalcy.
Being together with kids their own age at camp gives foster kids that hard-won feeling of normalcy.



Reader Interactions


  1. We adopted our 11-yea-old five years ago. It was handy to know that summer camp is a chance for foster children to interact with kids from all different kinds of backgrounds and cultures. I have never sent on of my kids to a camp before, I will be sure to talk to on of the directors to get more information!

  2. Could you please send me information about your resident summer camps available? I am a foster parent in Georgia and have five children in my care. All are well behaved, the youngest is 10. Also do you have ny scholarships available for the camp?

    Thank you

    Ruth Hall

    • I would forward your question to the guest author of this piece, however, he represents an organization that serves New Jersey foster children and their families. As such, he cannot help you with your question as you are not a resident of New Jersey.

    • Cynthia, I went to Google to do a search. I found some Christian camps that host foster children. Otherwise, nothing.

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Lloyd Nelson is the Digital Media Manager at Foster and Adoptive Family Services, a program offering camp scholarships to children in foster care in New Jersey.