The Importance of Downtime

From wakeup to daily activities to songs at Evening Cove, every day at Laurel South is jam-packed with energy and enthusiasm. Campers are constantly on the move. And it’s interesting to point out that campers and counselors often forge theirdeepest connections during structured down times.

Harvard’s Graduate School of Education has several recent studies on the importance of down timefor children. Leah Shaferlooks at the benefits of playing during downtime and concludes that the best camps offer “opportunities for kid-directed play.” Included in her many benefits of playtime are intellectual development, social development, emotional development and physical development. Shafer says the best indicators for getting the most out of playtime are “choice, wonder, and delight.”

At Laurel South, campers improve their skills in daily activities, but are also able to explore choice, wonder and delight, as Shafer puts it, during Rest Hour, after dinner and before bedtime. The best part? Any downtime activity can help a child’s development. Making bracelets, playing cards,reading,creating an entirely new game and even cleaning up can be labeled ‘play.’(Just ask Mary Poppins!)

Playing during downtime sparks the curiosity and imagination of those involved. It’s often the foundation for inside jokes, creative stories and uninhibited laughter. More than anything, it’s part of the development of children and helping them create unique friendships.