There is a growing trend amongst schools in the United States to reduce or eliminate physical education classes and recess. School administrators, teachers unions, and policymakers have taken the position that there simply isn’t enough time in the day to accomplish what needs to be done for students in the classroom.
In Florida, a coalition of parents known as “the recess moms” have been fighting to pass legislation guaranteeing the state’s elementary school students at least 20 minutes of daily free play. Similar legislation recently passed in New Jersey, only to be vetoed by the governor, who deemed it “stupid.”
The benefits of recess seem obvious—time to run around helps kids stay fit. Perhaps most important, recess allows children to design their own games, to test their abilities, to role-play, and to mediate their own conflicts—activities that are key to developing social skills and navigating complicated situations. At Camp North Star, our campers use and develop these skills every day during the activity period known as Supervised Free Play.
Thankfully, our campers don’t have to worry about studying for classes or taking exams during the camp season. They can enjoy their time with camp friends while participating in our elective based program. North Star campers choose 5 activities per week and attend those activities for an hour each day, Monday through Friday. We offer a variety of choices in Fine Arts, Performing Arts, Athletics, Enrichments, Waterfront and Outdoor.
North Star’s activities are fun, engaging and focus on skill development. They are very different from a formal school classroom. Yet our campers still need a break from the structured environment of our activities. That’s why each day there is a period of Supervised Free Play. Similar to recess, our campers choose what they want to do and with whom. Campers play GaGa, Tetherball, Basketball, Frisbee, jam on their guitars, and make friendship bracelets. Our counselors are overseeing the activities while the campers organize the games and activities on their own. It’s an important part of the day and something our campers look forward to.
Schools may take away recess and gym class but the concepts of free play for kids and the importance of physical fitness will never be lost at Camp North Star.