I recently wrote about the importance of summer camp for teenagers. For that article, I interviewed SgtMaj Ford Kinsley, the commandant of cadets for Marine Military Academy in Harlingen, Texas. SgtMaj Kinsley runs MMA Summer Camp, which is a four-week adventure camp for boys ages 12-17.
When SgtMaj Kinsley told me about the all activities the campers participated in, I couldn’t wait to tell my younger brother about it. Then it occurred to me …. If I had a sister instead of a brother, MMA Summer Camp would not be an option for her.
So I went back to visit my friend SgtMaj Kinsley. I wanted to know why in the 21st century would MMA choose to operate a boys-only summer camp?
It turns out MMA actually isn’t stuck in the past. In fact, MMA is simply trying to give teenagers exactly what they need: an excellent summer camp experience … and a break from the opposite sex!
If you’re scratching your head on this, read on and learn why most teenagers thrive in a single-gender or single-sex summer camp.
They are less self-conscious
With single-sex camps, there is no longer any pressure to “show off.” At single-gender camps, teenagers are less concerned about their appearance and how well they perform because the opposite sex is not there to observe them.
“The campers are better able to focus on the task at hand,” SgtMaj Kinsley said. “They also tend to try harder during the activities because they are not worried about messing up and being embarrassed.”
According to SgtMaj Kinsley, it is perfectly fine to remove the opposite sex from the camp environment even for just a short while.
“It isn’t because girls and boys can’t do the same things, it’s because it removes the social pressure,” SgtMaj Kinsley said. “The campers actually end up having more fun, and they end up learning more.”
Now I understand why there are still same-sex schools!
They make stronger friendships
In a single-sex summer camp, it is easier for campers to open up and make new friends.
“Our campers come from all over the world, but, because they are boys, they tend to have a lot of interests and experiences in common,” SgtMaj Kinsley said. ““Be it sports, cars, or even girls, it’s easier for them to talk freely to one another.”
Plus, teenagers who attend single-gender summer camp spend their energy making lifelong friends – not chasing after girlfriends or boyfriends!
“The campers truly bond and build strong friendships because no else is competing for their attention,” SgtMaj Kinlsey said.
They have same-sex role models
A single-gender summer camp is the perfect place for teenagers to meet same-sex role models.
“It’s important for campers to meet same-sex staff who are successful in their field,” SgtMaj Kinsley said. “These role models can tell the campers their stories and motivate them to achieve their goals.”
Campers are also more comfortable confiding in a staff member of the same sex with a problem or question.
“The lines of communication tend to be more open in a same-sex summer camp,” SgtMaj Kinsley said.
The campers also benefit from the mentorship of the older summer campers.
“At MMA Summer Camp, many of the younger boys are mentored by the older boys. The older boys have been in their shoes so they try to guide and help them,” he said. “Role models don’t have to be a certain age, they just have to set a positive example.”
Wow! I’m seriously thinking about becoming a Big Sister now!
Single-Sex Summer Camp: A Good Break from a Coed World
Yes, we live in a coed world, but that doesn’t mean your teenager can’t take a break from it. A single-sex summer camp might be just the experience your teen needs this summer!
As I realized, separating males and females doesn’t mean that they can’t learn the same things or do the same things … it just means that they may be more relaxed when they are just among themselves. (Don’t believe me? Ask a Boy Scout or Girl Scout troop leader!)
Danielle Banda is a communications major at the University of Texas at Brownsville.
Marine Military Academy is a college-preparatory boarding school for young men in grades 8-12. For more information about our summer camp visit our website: https://www.summer-camp-mma.com/