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A few years ago, an issue of the American Camp Association’s Camping Magazine included a news item titled, “Five Soft Skills Needed for Job Success.” It referred to the following study published by Child Trends:

Key “Soft Skills” That Foster Youth Workforce Success: Toward a Consensus Across Fields (Laura H. Lippman, Renee Ryberg, Rachel Carney, Kristin A. Moore, 2015)

Other educators are becoming increasingly aware of something that camp directors have known for generations: that “soft skills” are equally – if not MORE – important to a successful academic and professional career as mastery of the more traditional school subjects. The Child Trends study referenced by Camping Magazine set out to more precisely define which skills are most closely correlated to positive workforce outcomes (including employment, on-the-job performance, wages and entrepreneurial success). Here are the top 5:

  1. Social Skills – getting along with others, demonstrating respect, context-appropriate behavior, and conflict resolution
  2. Communication – including oral, written, nonverbal, and listening skills.
  3. Higher-order thinking skills – problem-solving, critical thinking, and decision making
  4. Self-control – delaying gratification, impulse control, paying attention, regulating emotions, and behaviors
  5. Positive self-concept – self-confidence, self-awareness, sense of well-being, and pride

These, by the way, align closely with what the 21st Century Skills movement has identified as the all-important 4 Cs: Creativity, Critical Thinking, Collaboration, and Communication.

What’s most notable to us is that these are precisely the skills that we teach at CampGroup summer camps. In fact, we couldn’t come up with a more accurate list of our explicit goals for campers if we tried! We see every moment of each camp day, whether it’s a structured camp activity, a meal, or “hang-out” time in the cabins, as an opportunity for our amazing staff to help campers develop their skill set in each of these areas. Our immediate objective in doing so is to have campers leave camp more connected, happier, more self-aware and self-assured. The fact that we’re also preparing them for greater long-term success in school and in the workforce is a source of great pride for us.